Fiona Apple’s “Criminal” Hits ‘American Horror Story: Freak Show’

Marc Hogan

By Marc Hogan

Lead News Writer
on 10.16.14 in News

When an early trailer for American Horror Story: Freak Show sent us scrambling for our Shazam apps, little did we know the FX series would turn into the unwholesome cousin of Glee. Not that musical entanglements should come as a surprise: AHS co-creator Ryan Murphy also helped come up with Fox’s long-running glee-club show, and the previous season’s AHS: Coven brought a rare TV performance by Stevie Nicks. In last week’s season premiere, Jessica Lange, as ringmistress Elsa Mars, delivered a bombastic, aspirational cover of David Bowie’s “Life on Mars?” Next up for Freak Show: Fiona Apple.

On the show, Sarah Paulson (12 Years a Slave) plays conjoined twin sisters Bette and Dot Tattler. No need to spoil the plot, but on Wednesday night’s episode, Paulson sang Apple’s “Criminal,” the heavy-rotation MTV hit from 1996′s Tidal — and it turns out there will be more where that came from. Murphy previously hinted Lange would sing Lana Del Rey on AHS, and he confirmed the cover in a recent interview with The Wall Street Journal, adding that “Kurt Cobain’s daughter,” Frances Bean Cobain, also approved an AHS rendition. Murphy further confirmed that the music choices were partly inspired by Baz Luhrmann’s 2001 film Moulin Rouge, in that the songs wouldn’t have to match the show’s 1952 setting.

A potential AHS Nirvana cover would be notable in itself, but there’s a history here, too. “It’s every band’s right, you shouldn’t have to do fucking Glee,” the grunge legends’ drummer — and Foo Fighters frontman — Dave Grohl told The Hollywood Reporter in 2011. He quickly backtracked, though, telling Entertainment Weekly of any dispute with Murphy, “There’s so few people that I’ve ever been upset with for longer than a little while.” Still, Murphy’s other show has never tackled Nirvana, though in 2012 it did Hole’s “Celebrity Skin” (originally sung, of course, by Frances Bean’s mother, Courtney Love).

As for AHS: Freak Show‘s song selections, Murphy told the Journal, “We’re only doing songs by artists who have self-identified as freaks.”

Watch a couple of official videos featuring Paulson’s “Criminal” video below; the full performance is lower-quality but still comes via the AHS: Freak Show Facebook page, so we’ll keep you posted if a better-resolution clip surfaces.