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TV LAND — By now, you’ve heard of "Stranger Things." Your niece or coworker or youngest son has told you to watch it — and maybe you have!
Perhaps you’ve sat through all eight episodes of nostalgia and monstery, upside-downy goodness. You’ve noted the homages to Spielberg, Carpenter and King, along with the added bonus of diversity and representation. Winona Ryder has blown you away, yet again.
For a full recap and review, listen to KSL's Popcorn Report podcast episode on "Stranger Things."
But the thing we really need to talk about is the music. The opening credits are captivating beyond reason, and the entire score is the perfect companion to the story.
Here are the five best musical cues in the nearly flawless “Stranger Things.” Also, just as an FYI, there are some spoilers, probably.
“Raise A Little Hell” by Trooper — Chapter 2
This song plays when Steve Harrington, resident hottie, opens the door to his no-parents-home party (on a Tuesday!) The line that accompanies the song is “hello, ladies,” which makes Harrington sound suave, or at least suave adjacent. But on a closer listen, the song is encouraging open mindedness, making changes in the world and writing wrongs.
Similarly, Steve’s character seems to be a classic jock type, who wouldn’t mind raising a little heck of his own. But his arc reveals he’s a lot more than his stereotype, making the Trooper song a perfect anthem.
“Should I Stay or Should I Go” by The Clash — Chapter 2
Presented as a bonding moment between Jonathan and Will Byers, the song is a classic early '80s hit that didn’t make the mainstream until much later. Jonathan’s message for his younger brother is to be himself, despite pressure from their lousy, absentee father to conform to “the norm.”
But, in a genius move by the show, the song is also used to illustrate mother Joyce Byers’ choice to run from the house that is clearly infested by ghosts or aliens or worse … or stay and fight to find her missing son.
“Elgia” by New Order — Chapter 4
The lyricless song accompanies the funeral of a character who brings everyone together. It sounds like the score (and indeed is likely a large inspiration for it), with a dark and a "strange" quality. But the music also includes the overlying tone — hope and inspiration. A show with a decent number of twists and turns would choose a song like “Elgia” to play over a funeral. Just to keep you guessing.
“Heroes” by Peter Gabriel — Chapter 4
All of the main characters, from Police Chief Hopper to Joyce to Jonathan to the kids, are all playing the hero until the devastating climax of Chapter 4. They are all helpless to do anything, and this melancholy and emotional version of “Heroes” swells over their devastation.
Lucas, Dustin, Mike and Eleven are torn apart and Mike goes home to seek comfort. The Byers also share a tearful hug, and the song ends abruptly as the sound of sirens approaching takes over the final second of the episode. If you’re not crying by then, you might not be human.
“Nocturnal Me” by Echo and the Bunnymen — Chapter 5
Sometimes the best songs are the ones that keep the creep going even after the action has ended. As the end credits flash up, Nancy is who knows where, has come face to face with the monster, and sufficiently gooed up a very cute jacket. Jonathan is stuck on the other side, with no way of knowing how to get to her, and it’s up to Nancy on her own to deal with the consequences of crawling through a tree trunk. The song plays up the cliff-hanger ending, seemingly ominous and final about Nancy’s fate.
What are your favorite songs from “Stranger Things?”