Music has always been a huge part of Stranger Things, and we’re not even talking about the incredible synth–driven original score by composers Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein. While Dixon & Stein’s music largely helps to create the mood and aesthetic that so defines the nostalgic horror vibe of Stranger Things, it’s the expertly-chosen needle drops that really give the show its moments.
Season 4 has spiked up the streams of Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” as it serves as Max’s favorite song; Max, we know, is a character in a precarious place. She’s relatively new to Hawkins, she’s coming from a broken home, and now she’s just lost her stepbrother, Billy. While her relationship with Billy was tumultuous, she cared for him like a brother.
Episode 1 of Season 4 nostaligically kicks off with The Beach Boys, a classic, ‘California Dreamin’ and later in the episode we hear ‘Detroit Rock City’ by Kiss.
Episode 2 reveals Elle and Mike at a roller rink with Dead or Alive’s ‘You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)’ as the soundtrack to the skating scenes. Later in episode 2, Talking Heads ‘Psycho Killer’ compliments the narrative perfectly, an impeccable decision, but we won’t spoil the story for you! You’ll have to see for yourself.
Episode 3 offers a diverse soundtrack, much like the episodes narrative, including Mario Laza’s emotional, krooner like ‘Guardian Angels and Dorian Zero’s light hearted and quirky ‘In Transit to Bermuda.’
‘Pass the Dutchie’ by Musican Youth starts playing in Episode 4 and I assure you it is difficult to sit still for this. You’ll find yourself swaying back and forth while watching. We revisit Kate Bush’s ‘Running Up That Hill’ Max’s favorite song this season. Hipbone Slim’s ‘Legless’ is the perfect California, surf rock vibe to compliment many of the sunny aesthetics this season offers and juxtoposes the dark nature of the narrative in a cruel way.
Episode 5 takes a turn sonically including Cecilia Bartoli’s gorgeous, ‘Nina, o sia la Pazza per Amore.’ It seems as if Ricky Nelson’s 1961 #1 US Billboard Hot 100 hit ‘Travelin’ Man’ was meant for the big screen. The episode then circles back to more traditionally Stranger Things like tracks from Arthur B. Rubinstein’ Wargames Soundtrack.
I have no complaints that we hear from ‘Musical Youth’ again in Episode 6 as a nod to Jonathan and his buddy Argyle’s smoking habits. It truly is a sonic gift of the season that gives viewers a break after recurring trauma from the narrative. This episode brings a truly Stranger Things sounding synthy track from S U R V I V E titled ‘Cutthroat’ and it is pure spooky magic.
Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong ‘Dream a Little Dream of Me’ is the first track we hear in Episode 7 followed by Kate Bush’s ‘Running Up the Hill’ once again. The most unique songs of this episode, if not the season, come from Philip Glass. The first track we hear from him is titled ‘Prophecies’ and it is truly eerie, somber and emotive which is followed by his track, ‘Akhnaten Act 1, Scene 3: The Window of Appearances’ which is more upbeat, but still ritualistic.
This season has such a well rounded selection of music and this is just the highlight reel! Tune into Season 4 on Netflix now.