Stranger Things has always been known for its attention to detail, and its musical choices are no exception. Whether it’s to enhance the emotional texture of a scene, foreshadow future events or just simply pay homage to the 1980s, the handpicked songs on the series’ soundtrack rarely serve as mere background music — and more often than not, take on a starring role of their own.
And that doesn’t begin to cover the power of the show’s original score, composed by Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein of S U R V I V E. Their original contributions — which include both the simmering synth-driven theme song and the plucky, ultra creepy “Upside Down” motif — have been a factor in setting Stranger Things apart from its sci-fi horror predecessors, and have established the show as an extraordinary music-for-film tastemaker.
But while the show’s original score will oftentimes seep out subtly from the shadows and quietly amp up a scene’s intensity, it’s the soundtrack songs that mark many of Stranger Things‘ most memorable moments.
“One of the wonders of Stranger Things is that it has a way of connecting each of the songs to its multigenerational audience around the world in very unique ways,” the show’s longtime music supervisor Nora Felder previously told Billboard. “That reflects the power of a meaningful, timeless song — and how its significance can be revived and reconceived when it is married to a remarkable story such as Stranger Things.”
Take a nostalgic trip through eight of our favorite Stranger Things musical moments below: