“That song saved my life”. Sound familiar? We’ve all uttered that at least once, I’m sure. There are certain pieces of music that will stop us rigidly in our tracks and it will root and connect us to its elements. Our ears will hear nothing else. It will grip our focus so fiercely and intently that we’ll have no choice but to stop everything and simply listen. It’s almost a subconscious reflex.
Despite an unwaveringly sensational soundtrack being a mainstay of the franchise, the pull towards a tune was very, very cleverly played on in Stranger Things Season 4 Volume 1…
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD…
When Vecna properly takes hold of Max Mayfield in the graveyard, she’s stuck in a possessed trance of which she can’t be snapped out. It’s a frightening ordeal for Dustin, Lucas and Steve, who receive word from Nancy and Robyn in the nick of time that hearing her favourite song could be enough to keep Max from being killed. And after they scrabble around to find the right cassette, press play and cushion her headphones over her ears, the teens save Max as she hears one crucial hook from Kate Bush’s iconic, transcendent ‘Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)’.
It’s anthemic and goosebump-inducing — always has been — but it’s now gained, ironically, almost as much power as Vecna itself after taking a soul, despite actually being released back in 1985. I thrive on these kind of resurgences and how they’re so indicative that, with the right marketing to a captive audience, you can truly push a product and enjoy a successful result.
You’ve also got to assume that the choice itself was entirely deliberate. Of course that’s obvious, but in terms of it not just being material that the producers rate; the lyrics navigate themes of togetherness, being reunited with those that mean so much, how you’d make any form of pact you could to get what you desire. The words couldn’t relate more to the bond between Max and her friends — the group we’ve followed for many a series now.
So, as a marketer, seeing the ongoing and almost insurmountable boost in streams alone of the song (just think how many others are choosing to spin the CD, vinyl or tape at home!) has been incredibly interesting and exciting. But as a writer who can’t spend less than half her day listening to music, it inspired this article — and, moreover, it really got me scratching my head about which track, if there could only be one, would in fact rescue me from a doomed fate.
What would yours be?