Graphic by Amileah Sutliff
Mid-July is usually when your summer Netflix binge hits a wall, and you’re stuck streaming the same awful episodes of Tiny House Hunters over and over until you fade into the your couch and, eventually, the humid summer air. Luckily, Netflix and the Duffer Brothers gifted us with eight charming, chilling episodes of extraordinary sci-fi harkening back to spooky ‘80s pop culture classics.
While there’s an ungodly long list of reasons this show killed it, two of the most notable are the interesting/terrifying/lovable characters and the nostalgic-yet-modern score by Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein of the Austin band S U R V I V E. With obvious nods to famous scores of the ’80s, the songs are comprised of a wide range of heavy synths. With a span of sounds as varied as the characters of Stranger Things, it was the perfect grounds to pick eleven (lol) of our favorite characters and the songs on the soundtrack that best personifies them.
This song’s called “Eleven,” but even if you didn’t know the title, this song is the perfect sonic embodiment of everyone’s favorite character. The track’s expectedly eerie and mysterious, but its slowness carries a sense of childlike awe and charm. The bell-like melody over the top is as sad as El’s unexplainable story.
Barb- “Nancy and Barb”
The repeated synth line throughout this song feels calculated, insightful, caring— everything Barb was trying to be when Nancy was out trying to bone the cool boy. Whoever named this track put Nancy first…..and so did Barb. She just wanted to protect her friend and, instead, she wound up getting sent to a1 terrifying dimension. America’s beautiful, tragic hero. This track is a wonderful soundtrack to memorialize the red-headed angel. #JusticeForBarb.
Mike- “Stranger Things”
Just like the theme is driving force behind the soundtrack, Mike is the driving force of the show. He’s endlessly curious and intelligent, always pushing for answers and solutions to save his friend, even when it seems unlikely. His teen-boy-awkward, but undying love for and faith in El is the most darling thing that’s ever graced our streaming services. After binging all eight episodes, the title track becomes familiar, almost comforting, just like our boy Mike.
Nancy- “She’ll Kill You”
This one’s obvious because Nancy essentially killed Barb, and we should never, ever forget it. Listen to this action-packed banger and think of all the ways you are going to fight Nancy to obtain #JusticeForBarb.
Will- “One Blink for Yes”
The picture this song lays out is so vivid, you can see the desperately blinking lights of Will trying to communicate with this dimension. Starting with just one repeated note and growing into a glow of ambient sound, this track always induces the same chills as the brilliant scene when Will’s mom realizes the lights are her son.
Jonathan- “A Kiss”
Who didn’t fall in love with Jonathan at leasta little in the flashback where he introduces Will to Joy Division? Combine that with the fact that we’re all rooting for him romantically, and his persistent dedication to his mom and brother, and “A Kiss” is pretty fitting. He may have come off a bit creepy at first, but since Nancy didn’t kiss him, we can at least listen to this track and pretend she did.
Dustin “Biking to School”
If you didn’t at leastgrin every time sweet Dustin opened his lil toothless mouth, I’d think we were either watching different shows or that there’s a dark hole where your heart is supposed to be. A curly-haired comic relief with a heart of gold, even during even the darkest episodes, this kid’s the most unassumingly charismatic one of the bunch. The adventurous, bumbling tone of “Biking to School” could make a room full of curmudgeons feel light; a perfect match.
Lucas- “Are You Sure?”
Lucas’ fierce skepticism, especially of El, causes rifts in the friendships of the characters. But face it, he’s just asking the question we’re all collectively thinking: “wtf?” Plus, when you’re a group of 12-year-olds attempting to save your friend from weird government plans and a terrifying other dimension, someone’s gotta be rational and ask questions like “are you sure?”
Of all the characters of Stranger Things, I think Joyce is the one we collectively feel the most for. It’s probably a mix of Winona Ryder’s insanely skilled portrayal of a heart-broken and desperate mom and that fact that, after all she’s been through, no one believes her until they’re forced to. “Hallucinations” is ambient and muddled, but carries some of the most bleak moments on the soundtrack, making it a even match for Joyce.
Demogorgon- “Lights Out”
In addition to being a very disorienting thing to turn on at house parties, this soundtrack makes for excellent study music. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was listening to this in a silent library while I was going HAM on a textbook and jumped exactly three feet out of my chair when “Lights Out” came on, precisely the reaction I would have had if the Demogorgon walked into the library to check out their favorite book, presumably “Little Women.”
Dr. Martin Brenner- “Hawkins Lab”
Only slightly less spooky than the Demogorgon itself is Dr. Brenner, orchestrator of El’s kidnapping and the weird project to use Eleven’s powers to penetrate the Upside Down. While not as jumpscare-ridden as some of the other tracks on the soundtrack, this most certainly is the creepiest in a more convoluted, conspiracy-driven way.
Our exclusive red splattered edition of the Stranger Things soundtrack is available in our members store--exclusive to our members--starting on October 17, at 12pm EST.