First off, I’m not going to talk about the popular Netflix series “Stranger Things” – at least, not in any significant depth or detail.
If you know the show, then you know why it’s regarded with such adoration and acclaim, most notably for its tonally accurate and atmospheric throwback to ’80s pop culture entertainment. If you don’t, I suggest giving it the binge-watch during these guilt-free stay-at-home times.
Secondly, this post will eventually talk about the music, once I get past this slightly obtuse intro, which I promise, does offer some context.
Let’s get started …
I just finished reading this nifty little book, titled “Worlds Turned Upside Down” about the making of seasons 1 & 2 of “Stranger Things.” I received it as a belated Xmas gift (by a year), so season 3 wasn’t included at the time of the book’s initial publishing.
All in all, this book’s pretty cool. It’s all roughed-up in a library-style clear book jacket that feels of scholastic plastic. And a plethora of content is visually laid out to mimic a makeshift journal and/or scrap book. It embodies much of the tone and spirit of the show in a tactile and immediate way, making for an effortless and informative read.
What lead me to verbalize my takeaway from the book, through this particular post, was a mock magazine advert, the kind you’d find at the back of a vintage comic or fantasy/sci-fi publication. The ad featured a “Stranger Things” mixtape on audio cassette, just like some of us used to make back in the ’80s, when those mini reel-to-reels were considered cutting edge tech. Needless to say, it hit all the right nostalgia notes.
The faux ad’s a two page spread, featuring a bunch of the music used in the show, with brief descriptions and all that good stuff. This is not to be confused with the wonderful synth score from Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein. This is all the popular radio hits of the time, both mainstream and alternative, pop and rock.
When I encountered it, I immediately planned it to be my next playlist on the blog. And once I started assembling it, I instead found this official compilation from the show. Very convenient … and in hindsight, obvious.
It’s titled, unsurprisingly, “Stranger Things,” and features 19 old school ’80s tracks, mostly staples from the era, with a few deeper cuts from the alternative scene. It’s all recognizable, if not in song title, then in band name. And it all could have easily been cobbled together playlist-style, like I originally planned. But this way proved so much easier. Plus, it feels official.
There’s The Police’s “Every Breath You Take,” Duran Duran’s “Girls on Film,” Joy Division’s “Atmosphere,” TOTO’s “Africa,” Devo’s “Whip It,” Scorpion’s “Rock You Like a Hurricane,” The Psychedelic Furs’ “The Ghost in You,” Corey Hart’s “Sunglasses at Night,” Olivia Newton-John’s “Twist of Fate,” to name a few. Basically, there’s something for everybody.
Strangely, I have to say that it all flows together rather fluidly. Yet, curiously, back in the day, I don’t think I would’ve ever juxtaposed these songs next to one another on the same tape. I guess time provides the right level of context.
One thing to note that might be a deal breaker is the inclusion of lines of character dialogue from the series. After every few songs, there’s a bit phrase from Mike, Dustin, Will , Lucas, Eleven, Joyce, or Jim. If it’s not your thing, then it might prove distracting. Personally, it doesn’t bother me. It’s more for atmosphere than anything else, and helps tie the selections together even more tightly.
Here’s the ’80s song soundtrack to “Stranger Things.”
The soundtrack to the Netflix series “Stranger Things.”
And until there’s an official update, or a Vol. 2, I’ll include this trio of instrumental soundtracks from S U R V I V E’s Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein, one for each season thus far. Their scores are remarkably moody and full of immersive neon synth-infused atmosphere. I use them for background mood music, when I’m reading, as I did for the aforementioned “Worlds Turned Upside Down,” and for settling into all things creative. Check ’em out in whatever manner suits you.
Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein’s “Stranger Things, Vol. 1” soundtrack.
Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein’s “Stranger Things, Vol. 2” soundtrack.
Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein’s “Stranger Things, Vol. 3” soundtrack.
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