A large part of what makes Stranger Things such a phenomenon is the music. Even before Season 4, Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein's unforgettable opening theme (as the wise Sarah Paulson once tweeted, "If you skip the intro while watching Stranger Things I don't want to know you") and their beautifully creepy synth score helped immerse fans in the world of Mike Wheeler, Dustin Henderson, Will Byers, and their extraordinary new friend Eleven. But in the latest installment, the show's creators took the significance of music to a whole new level.
Max Mayfield's way of escaping Vecna's curse is to hit play on Kate Bush's 1985 song "Running Up That Hill," and newcomer Eddie Munson takes on a swarm of demobats by shredding along to Metallica's metal anthem "Master Of Puppets." Music is more important than ever to Stranger Things and its beloved characters in season 4.
“I have the characters constantly living in my head from each of my projects,” the show's music supervisor Nora Felder told Billboard back during season 3. “When I’m driving, I’m either surfing radio stations... and jumping between genres and decades. My musical radar is always on, even in my sleep, and I’m constantly seeking, in any way or form, whatever message the universe might decide to send me.”
As fans patiently wait for the show's final season to hit Netflix, I've put on my music supervisor hat and rounded up some tracks- that you've heard in the show and some you haven't- that'll make you feel like a character in the iconic sci-fi series. Let's take a time-traveling trip to Hawkins, Indiana!
1. "Running Up That Hill" - Kate Bush
2. "Master of Puppets" - Metallica
3. "Goodbye Horses" - Q Lazzarus
This song didn't come out until 1988 but this show is no stranger to anachronisms. In fact, Screenrant points out in a season 3 episode, Mrs. Wheeler gets ready while the song "Died In Your Arms" plays in the background, which was released a year after that season takes place. Plus, season 4 gave a nod to The Silence Of The Lambs when Nancy and Robin went to interview Victor Creel in his cell. "Goodbye Horses" was used in one of the movie's most infamous scenes which features Buffalo Bill dancing to the song. I wouldn't be surprised if they use the beloved song at some point before the show ends.
4. "Blinding Lights" - The Weeknd
Well, this was obviously not released in the '80s, but The Weeknd did likely use synths and machines from that time era to make his hit song. It wouldn't sound out of place playing through the shops at the Starcourt Mall.
5. "Boys Don't Cry" - Anitta
The luscious and dark production underneath Anitta's catchy lyrics gives this song a sinister feeling, making it a perfect fit for the dangers lurking around, or should I say under, Hawkins. Fun fact: the song's music video makes a reference to Stranger Things star Winona Ryder in Beetlejuice. Anitta's mystical hairstyle and red wedding dress look strikingly similar to Winona's wedding dress in the 1988 classic.
6. "Судно (Борис Рижий)" - Molchat Doma
The Belarusian post-punk band Molchat Doma took alternative pockets of the internet by storm when their album Etazhi ('Floors') was posted on YouTube in 2018. The band is highly influenced by '80s Russian rock music and has drawn comparisons to New Order's 1983 album Power, Corruption & Lies. The song "Судно (Борис Рыжий)" ("Bedpan (Boris Ryzhy)") gained more popularity after going viral as a sound on TikTok. It's also a perfect match for Eleven's punk makeover in season 2 and I have a feeling synth-pop is a guilty pleasure for Jonathan, especially when it's this moody.
7. "I Know There's Something Going On" - Frida
In the spirit of alternative pop anthems like Kate Bush's "Running Up That Hill," we have this 1982 gem from Anni-Frid "Frida" Lyngstad. I can picture Max popping this into her walkman after she's finally worn out Hounds of Love. The agitated vocal style and lyrics could work for Max at any point since she joined the cast in season 2; she's been through a lot!
Also, this track is an '80s relic. If you haven't recognized her yet, Frida is one of the singers of the beloved Swedish pop group ABBA. On top of that, the song was co-written by Genesis singer Phil Collins who also played drums on the song and helped Frida sing backup vocals.
8. "Black Celebration" - Depeche Mode
We learned a lot in season 4, and one of those lessons was that Stranger Things loves a dramatic montage. I think the first 2 minutes of this song would work perfectly for a dramatic montage of the gang as they prepare to take on Vecna and the creatures of the Upside Down for the last time.
9. "Pretender" - Black Marble
Taking it back to modern times, Black Marble is praised for his melancholy synth-pop that recalls early and lesser-known cold-wave groups from the late '70s and early '80s. In "Pretender," many of the synths heard are a close match to some of the sounds we hear in the show's score. Songs like "The First I love You," have the same bittersweet feel that Black Marble's music has.
10. "Origins" - Dynatron
This last track is for the hardcore synth heads. When a well-placed song from the soundtrack isn't playing, Stranger Things is carried by the musical stylings of Survive's Michael Stein and Kyle Dixon. This track by synth wave producer Dynatron (Jeppe Hasseriis) is absolutely perfect for exploring the dark and dangerous world of the Upside Down. Get ready to be transported.