There’s an expression in England about buses: “You don’t get a bus for ages, and then two or three come at once.” That’s how former Kajagoogoo singer Limahl, 60, is feeling right about now thanks to the explosion of interest in his 1984 soundtrack hit “Neverending Story” after the soaring ballad was used in the season three finale of the smash Netflix monster-in-the-mall drama Stranger Things.
If he’s being honest, he doesn’t watch the show, but now he’s a big fan. “I’m gobsmacked,” the ’80s star (born Christopher Hamill) tells Billboard about his reaction to the surge in streams and downloads since the latest season of the Duffer Brothers series debuted on July 4.
“I saw a couple of comments on social media while I was in the car with my 82 year-old mother and 23 year-old nephew and we’re driving along and I said casually, ‘By the way Josh, apparently my song is featured in something called Stranger Things’ and he went crazy! He said, ‘Oh my God, Uncle C, that is huge!’ He’s freaking out in the back seat and I realized, ‘Wow, maybe this means something.'”
What it means so far is that the song from the beloved fantasy film of the same name based on the 1979 novel by German writer Michael Ende has jumped from a negligible amount of sales in the week ending July 4 to 3,000 in the week ending July 11, according to Nielsen Music. On-demand streams (audio and video combined) have similarly exploded by 2,063% from 88,000 in the week ending July 4 to 1.91 million in the week ending July 11. The official video, posted to YouTube by Rhino Records on July 11 had racked up nearly 850,000 views at press time.
Limahl also noticed the immediate effect, with his Spotify monthly listeners count for the song going from 300,000 to over one million in just the past week as he’s watched the viral #NeverEndingChallenge launched by Stranger star Millie Bobby Brown blow up on social media, with more than 5.3 million likes for her intitial post so far.
In the Stranger Things scene Dustin Henderson (Gaten Matarazzo) proves to his incredulous squad that his too-hot-and-smart-to-be-believed camp girlfriend Suzie (Gabriella Pizzolo) is real by singing a duet of “Story” with her over his homemade ham radio rig.
The mind flaying feeding frenzy of attention — Limahl was unaware that The Tonight Show aired a spoof starring Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Colbert in the roles of the be-sotted teen stars this week until Billboard pointed it out — is just desserts for the British star who still tours the U.S. and Europe singing his hits. “That’s so fantastic!” he says of the loving Tonight Show homage. “And I’ll tell you why. In 1984 the song was No. 1 practically all over the world, but in America it only got to No. 17. I was over there working really hard. I’d toured America for 16 weeks and we were doing two cities a day, I was phoning into radio stations and going into radio stations and it seemed never-ending and I was a bit dissapointed when it only got to No. 17, which I’d come to live with. So this is a huge bonus!”
He has, of course, since watched the Stranger scene — but is still figuring out if he needs to go back and watch all three seasons to understand the context — and says it was “lovely, of course. The couple are so cute, though unfortunately, I don’t know the backstory. I’m not sure I can just jump into season three,” he laments. “Everyone talks about how it’s a pivotal moment. I read an interview with the writer/directors where they said it almost didn’t make it into the show. Life is so crazy that it could go one way or another. What’s really lovely is I didn’t have to do any work this time around to get this bonus. It just came along, out of the blue.”
This is the second time this year the singer — who toured the U.S. last year on the Retro Futura package featuring The Go-Go’s Belinda Carlisle, ABC, Modern English, The Outfield’s Tony Lewis and Annabella from Bow Wow Wow — has gotten an unexpected shout-out from Netflix. Kajagoogoo’s “Too Shy” also played a part in the Black Mirror movie Bandersnatch, which he says similarly came “out of the blue” and helped spur renewed interest in his catalog.
Not for nothing, Limahl began taking acting classes three years ago after trying his hand at theater prior to Kajagoogoo’s ascent and he’d like to just “put it out there” that if any Netflix series writers would like to offer him a cameo, “I’m there.”
Watch the “Neverending Story” video and Tonight Show spoof below.