Stranger Things,” a cultural phenomenon and hit series, has captivated audiences not just through its gripping storyline and endearing characters, but also through its masterfully curated soundtrack. Set in the 1980s, the show revives the essence of this vibrant era, weaving a tale of mystery and adventure in the small town of Hawkins, Indiana. Integral to its success is the soundtrack, which does more than just accompany the narrative; it breathes life into it, setting the mood and defining the era with precision and nostalgia. The music, a seamless blend of iconic 80s hits and an atmospheric original score by Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein, serves as a time capsule, transporting viewers back to a bygone era of pop culture.

Overview of the Soundtrack:

The Blend of 80s Music and Original Score

The soundtrack of “Stranger Things” is a meticulously crafted blend of 1980s music and an original score that together create a unique auditory experience. This mix plays a crucial role in setting the series’ tone, transporting the audience back to the 1980s. The selection of vintage tracks is more than just a nod to the era; it’s an integral part of the show’s storytelling, capturing the essence of the time and resonating with the characters’ journeys.

Composers Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein

The original score, composed by Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein, is as vital to the series as the 80s hits. Their work, characterized by a synth-driven, atmospheric sound, adds layers of depth and emotion to the narrative. Dixon and Stein’s approach to music composition is deeply rooted in electronic and experimental genres, which is evident in their use of synthesizers to create a sound that is both nostalgic and otherworldly. This score not only complements the on-screen action but also amplifies the suspense, mystery, and emotional intensity of the series. Their ability to blend retro sounds with modern musical elements results in a soundtrack that is both reflective of the show’s period setting and innovative in its execution.

Iconic Tracks from the Series

Key Tracks and Their Impact on Scenes and Characters

“Stranger Things” features a soundtrack that is as integral to its storytelling as its script. Several key tracks have become iconic, each playing a significant role in enhancing scenes and character development.

  1. “Should I Stay or Should I Go” by The Clash: This song is more than just a background track; it’s a recurring motif associated with the character of Will Byers. Its lyrics and upbeat tempo juxtapose the series’ darker elements, symbolizing Will’s internal struggle and the overarching theme of conflict between the normal and the supernatural.
  2. “Heroes” by Peter Gabriel: This cover of David Bowie’s original song is used in a deeply emotional scene, adding layers of poignancy and hope. It speaks to the bravery and resilience of the characters, particularly in moments of sacrifice and sorrow.
  3. “Kids” by Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein: Part of the original score, this track encapsulates the essence of adventure and innocence that is central to the children’s storyline. Its whimsical and yet suspenseful melody complements the scenes of discovery and camaraderie among the young protagonists.
  4. “Atmosphere” by Joy Division: Used in a more reflective scene, this song’s haunting and melancholic tone underscores the series’ themes of loss and the haunting nature of the past. It aligns perfectly with the moodier aspects of the show, adding depth to the characters’ emotional landscapes.
  5. “Every Breath You Take” by The Police: Played during a significant scene in the school dance, this song captures the bittersweet and complex emotions of growing up and the changes the characters endure. It’s a poignant reminder of their innocence amidst the chaos that surrounds them.

The Role of 80s Music in Setting the Scene

Establishing the Time Period with 80s Music

The strategic use of 80s music in “Stranger Things” plays a pivotal role in anchoring the series firmly in its time period. This era’s music is not just a backdrop; it’s a cultural touchstone that evokes the essence of the 1980s. From new wave to classic rock, each song chosen reflects the trends, mood, and social nuances of that decade. This musical era is known for its distinct sound, a mix of electronic synths and traditional rock elements, which resonates with the show’s blend of futuristic sci-fi and nostalgic elements.

Examples of Effective Use in the Series

  1. “Africa” by Toto: This iconic song is used in a scene where characters are engaging in a typical high school setting, effectively capturing the carefree and explorative spirit of teenage life in the 80s.
  2. “Material Girl” by Madonna: Featured in a scene that showcases the era’s fashion and pop culture, this track underscores the influence of 80s pop icons and the societal trends of the time.
  3. “Time After Time” by Cyndi Lauper: This song plays during a tender, emotional moment, its lyrics and melody enhancing the scene’s sense of nostalgia and longing.
  4. “Whip It” by Devo: Used in a more upbeat and dynamic scene, this track complements the energy and vivacity of the series’ lighter moments, embodying the experimental and sometimes whimsical nature of 80s music.
  5. “Sunglasses at Night” by Corey Hart: This song plays in a scene that is both cool and ominous, mirroring the dual nature of the decade – a time of vibrant pop culture and underlying Cold War tensions.

The Original Score – Creating Atmosphere and Emotion

The original score of “Stranger Things,” crafted by Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein, is critical in establishing the show’s atmosphere and emotional depth. Characterized by its synth-heavy, atmospheric sound, it heightens suspense and mystery, particularly in scenes involving supernatural elements. This score not only supports the narrative’s tension but also enriches the characters’ emotional experiences, from moments of fear and danger to those of hope and connection. The composers’ skillful use of synthesizers creates a sound that is both otherworldly and deeply resonant, making the music an integral part of the “Stranger Things” experience.

Fan Reception and Impact on Pop Culture

Audience Response and Cultural Impact

The soundtrack of “Stranger Things” has received widespread acclaim from fans and critics alike, becoming a cultural phenomenon in its own right. Its unique blend of 80s music and original score has resonated deeply with audiences, sparking a renewed interest in 80s pop culture and music. Fans have praised the soundtrack for its ability to evoke nostalgia while simultaneously contributing to the show’s suspenseful and mysterious ambiance.

Accolades and Recognitions

The impact of the soundtrack has extended beyond mere popularity, earning it several accolades and recognitions in the music and entertainment industry. The original score, composed by Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein, has been particularly lauded for its innovative use of synthesizers and contribution to the show’s overall mood and storytelling. The soundtrack’s influence is evident in its numerous awards and nominations, including those for outstanding original music and composition.

The Influence of the Soundtrack on Modern Media

Impact on TV, Movies, and Music

The soundtrack of “Stranger Things” has had a notable influence on modern media, extending its reach beyond the confines of the TV series. Its success has sparked a trend in incorporating 1980s music and synth-style compositions in various forms of entertainment.

There has been a noticeable increase in projects that use similar musical styles in television and film, particularly in genres that blend nostalgia with contemporary storytelling. This trend is evident in recent productions’ resurgence of 80s themes and aesthetics, where music plays a crucial role in setting the tone and era.

The Influence of the Soundtrack on Modern Media

Impact Across Various Media Platforms

The “Stranger Things” soundtrack has significantly influenced modern media, transcending its role as just a television series score. Its unique blend of 1980s music and synth-driven original compositions has inspired a resurgence of retro aesthetics in various forms of entertainment.

Influence on Television and Film

In TV and film, the impact is evident in the increasing number of productions that emulate the show’s nostalgic feel and sound. This trend showcases a growing preference for integrating 80s music and synthesizer-based scores, particularly in genres that combine elements of nostalgia with contemporary storytelling.

Resonance in the Music Industry

Beyond the screen, the soundtrack’s style has reverberated through the music industry. Modern musicians and composers draw inspiration from the show’s soundtrack, incorporating retro elements and synthesizers. This has led to a broader revival of 80s musical styles, demonstrating the profound influence of the “Stranger Things” soundtrack on contemporary music and media.


In conclusion, the “Stranger Things” soundtrack has emerged as much more than a mere collection of songs for a television series. It has played a pivotal role in the show’s storytelling, enhancing the narrative and connecting with audiences deeply emotionally. The careful curation of 1980s hits, combined with the haunting and innovative original score by Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein, has set the mood and tone of the series and significantly contributed to its popularity and critical acclaim.
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1. What makes the “Stranger Things” soundtrack unique?

The uniqueness of the “Stranger Things” soundtrack lies in its blend of nostalgic 1980s music with an original, synth-driven score. The soundtrack not only sets the series in its specific period but also enhances the emotional and mysterious aspects of the narrative. Composers Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein have created a distinctive sound that has become synonymous with the series and influenced modern media.

2. How has the “Stranger Things” soundtrack influenced pop culture?

The soundtrack has significantly impacted pop culture, sparking a revival of 1980s music and aesthetics in modern media. It has influenced other TV shows and movies to incorporate similar musical styles and inspired contemporary musicians to experiment with retro sounds and synthesizers. This influence extends beyond entertainment, affecting fashion, design, and broader cultural trends.

3. Can I find the “Stranger Things” soundtrack on streaming platforms?

Yes, the “Stranger Things” soundtrack, including the 1980s hits featured in the show and the original score by Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein, is available on various streaming platforms. These platforms typically offer playlists that encompass the series’ most iconic tracks, making it easy for fans to relive their favorite moments from the show.

By Arbaz

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