The soundtrack to the latest season of the hit Netflix series features its wildest mix yet
There’s a joy of having the soundtrack to Stranger Things 4 come out after the fact — now that most of us have binged the new season at least twice, and some of us splurged on the truly mind blowing Stranger Things Experience in Brooklyn.
It’s arrival prolongs the summer-long high for fans of the show by giving us the opportunity to really savor the most eclectic selection of songs music supervisor Nora Felder, producer Timothy J. Smith and show creators The Duffer Brothers have put together yet. However, it’s been tough to appreciate such maneuvers when so much of the conversation has been usurped by the usage of two songs.
Artist: Various Artists
Album: Stranger Things 4: Soundtrack from the Netflix Series
Label: Legacy Recordings
★★★★1/2 (4.5/5 stars)
When my son was born, never did I expect him to be crooning Kate Bush songs around the house almost ten years later. But here we are, singing “Running Up The Hill (A Deal With God)” together in the living room thanks to Max’s spiritual connection to the single throughout the season that made the tune a viral sensation. And who could escape from the enormity of fan favorite Eddie Munson’s epic hero scene that found him thwarting the advancement of Vecna’s pesky demobats by playing Metallica’s “Master of Puppets” atop of his uncle’s trailer in the upside down.
VIDEO: Eddie Munson guitar scene from Stranger Things 4
But that’s what makes the belated release of this Season 4 soundtrack such a plus for fans like us, because now we can enjoy the downright Tarantino-esque choices made for this two-part season beyond Kate Bush and Metallica.
One thing fans of the Stranger Things music landscape will immediately recognize is how unencumbered the producers are about adhering to a certain period of time. The songs go as far back as 1957 with the inclusion of the Ella’s Fitzgerald-Louis Armstrong duet “Dream A Little Dream of Me” and flash forward into the future circa 1995 via the usage of “When I’m Cold I’d Like To Die,” a choice selection from Moby’s last classic album Everything Is Wrong. So when you see they snuck in a deep cut from Extreme’s 1989 debut LP, it’s not as off-putting as, say, the series’ use of The Bangles’ cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s “Hazy Shade Of Winter” in Season 2, which was recorded in 1987 for the Less Than Zero soundtrack but used for an episode set in the fall of 1984.
However, there are some great mid-80s choices that bring you right into the Season 4 setting, which takes place in March of 1986. I’d like to think that the inclusion of Baltimora’s “Tarzan Boy” as a nod to AEW wrestling star “Jungle Boy” Jack Perry, but that’s just me. And tell me you can listen to Dead or Alive’s “You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)” and not envision Paul Rudd and Jimmy Fallon doing the song on The Tonight Show and I won’t believe you. The producers go super deep in their picks as well, namely rescuing The Beach Boys’ Roger McGuinn-assisted cover of “California Dreamin'” by the Mamas and the Papas from the recesses of the long out-of-print 1986 compilation Made in U.S.A., which is a fantastic find. They also remind us about Maryland funk group Starpoint with the inclusion of their hit “Object of My Desire.”
Yet, at least for me, the coolest part of this soundtrack for Stranger Things 4 is the segues. I never ever thought I needed to hear “Detroit Rock City” by KISS bleed into The Cramps’ “I Was A Teenage Werewolf”; or Falco’s “Rock Me Amadeus” flow into “Travelin’ Man” by Ricky Nelson; or the weird combination of James Taylor’s “Fire and Rain” and Siouxsie and the Banshees’ “Spellbound” appearing side-by-side. But as an uplifting gormadizer of sonic eclecticism, I’m here for all of this and then some.
The soundtrack is bookended by atmospheric remixes of the 1983 Journey hit “Separate Ways” by Bryce Miller, Alloy Tracks and Steve Perry that according to a recent interview in Flood Magazine, Perry admits opened the tune to a whole new realm of emotion.
“They really reached for more emotion than I even knew was in there,” he tells Dan Epstein. “When Bryce started arranging it, he took certain melody things that were always there, like guitar lines or things that we had worked on back in the day, and just expanded on ’em in a different way. And so it became a new version of itself, emotionally. I mean, I knew it was good, but I didn’t think it was that emotional.”
Like the series it represents, the music for Stranger Things 4 is indeed a thrill ride that will linger in your psyche as you anticipate the premiere of Season 5 in 2024 (maybe).