Top 10 Tracks From ‘Stranger Things’ Vol 1 & 2

Stranger Things is the biggest show on VOD. The first season has seen more views on Netflix than any other original property the company has produced. Season two has been confirmed to be in development and fans can’t wait to see what happens next in the story. Until the next chapter in this series is available, we have the show to watch and pick apart for all of its nods and references to the glory days of 80s thrillers and Amblin style movies. One of the most notable aspects of the show is the soundtrack which is now available to stream and download. Here are our ten favorite cuts from the original score by Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein of the band S U R V I V E. [Andrew Hawkins]

The score for Stranger Things is very much like the show: fine, really, but lacking depth and finesse. Dixon and Stein’s music is minimal — it doesn’t layer lots of varied sounds. Sometimes that works to the music’s benefit, but it also creates a sonic sameness and lack of character. The music doesn’t evolve and grow as much as I want it to. So many cues feature the same progression repeated over and over without much sense that it’s “going somewhere.” But like the series, the score’s unsophisticated style has made it more accessible. That’s great, and I hope it will turn more casual listeners on to the great synth scores that inspired Dixon and Stein’s work on Stranger Things. [Travis Newton]

Stranger Things

The title track for Stranger Things is catchy and instantly iconic. Anyone who watches the show knows the signature intro music almost as well as the theme from the X-Files. Clocking in just over a minute, this track is the definitive piece from the entire score. It’s pleasant and infectious without being annoying, and makes us want more perfectly paced synth themes in modern television. [Andrew Hawkins]

Castle Byers

Castle Byers starts off very soft and light before building into a wall of harsh noise. The music drifts in and out of an almost angelic synthesizer sound while a deep pulsing bass swells in the low end. This moment in the score sets the tone of how much Will means to Joyce and instills a feeling of loss and mystery mixed with happy memories. It’s a nice ambient track that definitely owes its influence to Brian Eno and others. [Andrew Hawkins]

Photos in the Woods

This is one of the more discordant and unsettling tracks on the whole soundtrack. Photos in the Woods is a dark soundscape that plays around with low octave phasers and pulses for a few minutes until it unleashes an ominous section of synth notes. This sounds like Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein used elements of the works of Wendy Carlos and blended it with Harry Bromley Davenport’s score for the cult classic, sci-fi horror movie Xtro. [Andrew Hawkins]

No Weapons

Another dark ambient soundscape with deep phaser effects, No Weapons is a high point in the score that defines the Upside Down. This is a piece that bears slight similarities to the synth and moog scores written by The Warriors composer Barry De Vorzon and even the work of Dennis Michael Tenney who composed the original Night of the Demons. This track is as unnerving as it is brooding, and the mood of the music builds into a crescendo of electronic notes that feel dangerous and very unsafe. [Andrew Hawkins]

Lights Out

Lights Out is the most violent and distorted track on both volumes one and two. It’s a repetitive assault of blasting noise that hits the listener with enough force to blow the speakers if turned up too loud. The track’s hook is the kind of horror movie sound effect that plays when the monster is beating the door down and breaking in. This is the track that can be best associated with the Demogorgon creature. This is the one to play on Halloween in the scariest part of the haunted house. [Andrew Hawkins]

Rolling Out the Pool

This short little cue is a blast. It runs on little staccato blips that almost sound like xylophone or marimba. It reminds me of the score for Akira, which is pretty damn fitting when you consider the similarities between it and Stranger Things. As the track progresses, Dixon and Stein work in some chiptune synths and John Carpenter style bass. It’s the best uptempo track on either volume, and it makes a killer pair with the next track Over. [Travis Newton]

First Kiss

One of the best little plot threads in Stranger Things’s first season was the romance between Mike and Eleven. This tender music cue captures their big moment with warm, echoing synths. It’d sound just as pretty on piano, but the soft electronic fuzz of this cue enhances just how sweet it is. The melody is catchy, and I hope to hear it used again in the show’s next season. [Travis Newton]

Kids Too

In all 75 tracks from Stranger Things, this is the one I can’t stop listening. It reiterates the Kids theme heard in the first episode but really lets it come full circle. Slowed down and allowed to breathe, the theme takes on a new significance. This track is an instance where Dixon and Stein’s use of repetition and pop song structure works like gangbusters. [Travis Newton]

Still Pretty

This track has another one of their stronger themes. Sad and romantic, the synths here sound like flute samples on a vintage mellotron, which brings nostalgia for the 60’s and 70’s. It’s unique — no other track on the album sounds like Still Pretty. It’s also a nice break from the 80’s sounds throughout the rest of the album. [Travis Newton]

Leap of Faith

In the best action cue on the second volume, Dixon and Stein keep things moving. Here we get their score at its most dynamic, building tension through choppy looping arpeggios and massive, ominous chords. This is the track that sounds the most like film score — it never stays on one tone for too long. It captures moments as they whizz by. Though it prefers rhythm to melody, this track represents a step forward for Dixon and Stein as composers. I hope to hear more tracks like it in the future. [Travis Newton]

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