Stranger Things Soundtrack Review
Music Rating - 4/5
Review by Damien Walsh
Directors: Matt Duffer (6 episodes), Ross Duffer (6 episodes) & Shawn Levy (2 episodes)
Production Company: 21 Laps Entertainment
Composers: Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein
Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein are two of the four members of Austin synth quartet, S U R V I V E. The band, founded in 2008 has recently been signed with Relapse records after mostly releasing tracks on their Bandcamp page. It turns out that Stein worked at Switched On a well known synth mecca in Austin, Texas. I guess this is one way of getting to test all of the best the world of analog synthesis has to offer!
You can check out S U R V I V E S music here – Survive Bandcamp
Throughout the series there are a lot of pieces of music licensed for use in addition to the original score. A few to note are “Heroes” – Peter Gabriel covers the David Bowie classic. This was the opening track of the album “Scratch My Back” released in 2010. “Hazy Shade of Winter” – The Bangles covered this Paul Simon track which was released in 1985. “White Rabbit” – Jefferson Aeroplane from the 1967 album Surrealistic Pillow. Although these don’t necessarily carry the same characteristics as the original score these tracks fit nicely into the overall soundscape.
From the very beginning of Stranger Things the music had me hooked, the opening theme and even the titles themselves brought me back to movies like E.T, Flight of The Navigator, Halloween, IT & the Goonies. Then I thought about it, something was a little out of place. A series so soaked in the 80's nostalgia has missed out on the thing that made some of the 80's movies so very memorable. The music stylistics. Stranger Things is closer to the Cliff Martinez soundtrack of "Drive" released in 2011 than any of the aforementioned films. I amn't for a second saying that the score to Stranger Things is not good, it's just not necessarily idiomatic of the time. If you're really going for true 80's then it's John Williams, Alan Silvestri and John Carpenters music, to name a just few that needs to be explored to capture the true magic.
Take a listen to the below short videos. The first gives an example of what S U R V I V E have done, the 2nd is how the same scene would sound with some John Williams music. The contrast is stark. And for me, this is the only thing missing to make Stranger Things a true 80's homage.
The OST is due to be released very soon according to S U R V I V E so be sure to keep a look out for it!
There are talks for a Season 2 of Stranger Things pending Netflix commissioning it…but why wouldn’t they eh??
If you haven’t seen Stranger Things and were alive in the 80’s it’s a must see, so be sure to check it out!