Stranger Things S1E1 – Reimagined

Stranger Things, the Netflix sci-fi/horror show created by The Duffer Brothers and released on 2016, tells the story of the disappearance of Will Byers, a young boy from Indiana and the quests of his friends Mike, Dustin, and Lucas to find him. The show is full of exciting plot twists, mysteries related to government activities, alternate realities, and terrifying creatures with a hint of romance and quirkiness. Without a doubt, one of the most popular shows on streaming services right now.

The story takes place in 1983 and so the whole environment created by the visuals and the music has been influenced by movies like The Goonies and the 80’s rock ‘n roll vibe. Nora Felder is the creative mind behind the soundtrack of the show and in her own words “when I read the script, it gave me goosebumps and made me forget to breathe or blink” and she wasn’t the only one. Millions of people felt exactly this way after watching the first episode.

A big part of the musical environment is original music, however, what really sells the story are the small features of popular songs from the 80’s. Nora’s work as impeccable and, as a matter of fact, it’s the cause for the show to be nominated for a Grammy Award for the Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media.

No wonder why it was extremely challenging for us to create an alternative soundtrack, however, after doing a lot of research and analyzing the different scenes, we have come up with a reimagined soundtrack for the first episode of Stranger Things:

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/user/12164397906/playlist/6LXTj8P8AQYX8NsiNi7RlZ?si=Ho0UaL6GT4yonc6HU22I2g

1. Original song: Can’t Seem to Make You Mine by The Seeds. In this scene, Chief Hopper walks into the police station after a rough morning and the song is playing in the background coming from an old radio. Our choice: Don’t Hold It Against Me by ? & The Mysterians. As the scene develops, the music in the background remains extremely chill and somewhat lazy which is why the funky beat of this song and the nostalgic/lazy feel would be a good match for the scene. Another choice could be Love Me by The 1975 which would bring the scene into a more modern yet with “old-feel” environment.
2. Original song: She Has Funny Cars by Jefferson Airplane. In this scene, the character of Eleven is first introduced. Showing her dirty hospital gown, her odd haircut, and her bare already generate the idea that something odd is happening. This added to the fact that the kid is starving and so starts eating fries in the kitchen of a diner without permission create intrigue in the audience. Our choice: the song helps accentuate the idea of this happening in a diner in the 80’s. The lyrics of the song match perfectly with the motions in the scene, because of this we would keep the song exactly as it is. However, if we had to change it, we would go for The Sunset Theme by The Sidewalk Sounds, an instrumental song with a “curious” / “escaping” feeling.
3. Original song: I Shall Not Care by Pearls Before Swine. The sequence of this scene has a deeper purpose since it is the first time we attempt to understand Eleven’s past. The feeling of inquiry and the signs that are being discovered are extremely intense which is why having the diner music from the radio allows the environment to be a little more casual. Our choice: Pushing Too Hard by The Seeds. The lyrics of the song and the energy and rhythm offer a good background for the scene that develops
4. Original song: Jenny May by Trader Horne. There are two separate parts of this scene, the first one being the owner of the diner calling child services and the second Eleven fixing the fan with her abilities. Once again, the sequence is so powerful and so much information is contained that the music needs to support what is happening in a casual way while adding the proper intensity after the fact. Our choice: White Room by Cream. This song has a really good and mysterious voice with a defiant tone that creates the creepy vibe after Eleven fixes the fan without touching it.
5. Original song: Every Little Bit by Jackie James & Ian Curnow. This scene shows a parallel story happening in the middle of the mystery of Will being missing and Eleven running away. The interactions between the characters of Steve and Nancy are very romantic in this episode, however, in this scene, the music is secondary and it is there to fill in and create the environment of a teenager’s room. Our choice: Maneater by Daryll Hall & John Oates. The beat of the song allows the scene to gain energy while still being a hit of the time (although the licenses for the song might be too expensive for the use of it in the scene).
6. Original song: White Rabbit by Jefferson Airplane. This scene is extremely intense since government agents show up at the diner looking for Eleven. The song supports the “running away” feeling and increases the highlights the word “fugitive” without losing the idea of it being played from the radio. Our choice: Keep Searching by Del Shannon. Not only the lyrics follow the storyline of the scene but it also has a dark twist in the melody that creates the perfect space for the Eleven’s runaway moment.
6. Original song: Africa by TOTO. Going back to the romantic parallel story, in this scene, Steve and Nancy make out in her room to one of the most popular songs of the time which brings us back to the 80’s and the rebellious/freedom teenage spirit without compromising the romantic undertone. Our choices: since this scene is extremely versatile thanks to the fact that portrays teens who presumably listen to the top hits of the moment we have many options for this scene, all from the top of the charts of 1983. Every Breath You Take by The Police, All Right by Christopher Cross, Stand Back by Stevie Nicks, and True by Spandau Ballet.

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