By now most of you have probably binge watched Netflix’s Stranger Things 2, the second season of the show that is a loving pastiche of 80s sci-fi and horror that is part Steven Spielberg’s The Goonies and part Stephen Kings’ IT.
The show is full of post-punk music references as well. In fact the shows logo that is based off of 80s pulp horror paperbacks actually uses the same font that is used on The Smiths’ posthumous final album Strangeways, Here We Come: Benguiat Book Condensed.
Most of the songs are references during this season are culled from the radio and MTV video playlists aired during 1984 and earlier. Here are all the references we found below:
Devo and Oingo Boingo in Chapter One: Mad Max
When the gang heads to the arcade to check their high scores on arcade classic Dig Dug, they discover someone called “MadMax” has beaten all their previous scores. Devo’s “Whip It,” from their 1980 album Freedom of Choice is playing while this scene occurs.
Later on in the episode as Sheriff Jim Hopper enters the police station, Oingo Boingo’s 1985 Dead Man’s Party album opening track “Just Another Day” is played right before he gets accosted by the private investigator Murray about his crazy conspiracy theories.
When Jonathan goes to the house party looking for Nancy, he is choice of costume is critiqued by a girl named Samantha, who is obviously dressed like Siouxsie Sioux from Siouxsie and the Banshees. During this scene Duran Duran’s “Girls on Film” is blaring in the background.
As many of our readers have pointed out, it is quite out of character for a guy who is a fan of both Joy Division and The Smiths to mistake Siouxsie for a member of KISS. Seriously, Jonathan!?
When Elle/Jane seeks out the girl from the rainbow room in her mother’s vision, she finds Kali, a fellow Hawkins lab acid-baby like her with the power of Illusion. Kali has a purple haired goth and new-wave look, while her entourage look like members of subcultures that would frequent The Metro in Chicago or Danceteria in New York; Axle is a Punk, Dottie is new-wave, Funshine has the coolest name ever, and Mick is just plain cool.
Note, the group’s choice of masks is a visual reference to the 2008 film The Strangers.
Plus, cue the obligatory reference to Roger Corman‘s “Suburbia“.
When Eleven tracks down The Strangers to their Chicago warehouse hideout in Chapter 7, Mute Records act Fad Gadget’s classic cut “Back To Nature” is being played as Kali goes over her gang’s outcast backstory.
“Back to Nature” was Mute’s second release on the label, following “Warm Leatherette,” founder Daniel Miller’s debut release under his moniker The Normal.
Tones On Tail
During Chapter 3: The Polywog, Steve gets humiliated by Max’s older stepbrother Billy during a basketball game set to the music of Bauhaus side project Tones on Tail’s single “Go!” “Go!” was initially released as the B-side to the band’s 1984 single Lions, before being issued as a single in it’s own right.
Currently, Daniel Ash, Kevin Haskins, and his daughter Diva are touring as Poptone and performing this song live during their setlists.
The Psychedelic Furs
Also featured during Chapter 3 while Jonathan and Nancy eat lunch together is the second single from the Psychedelic Furs 1984 fourth studio album, Mirror Moves. The video is directed by longtime Cure collaborator director Tim Pope.
During Chapter Five: Dig Dug, when Lucas briefs Max on all the gang’s secrets involving the mysteries in Hawkins, “Darling Don’t Leave Me” by Robert Görl makes a prominent appearance.
Robert is half of the neue deutsche welle electronic music duo DAF (Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft), which were temporarily broken up at the time. He is joined on this track by Eurythmics’ Annie Lennox who provides backing vocals. The track appears on Görl’s solo album Night Full of Tension, which was also released via Mute in 1984.
The Icicle Works
Liverpool post-punk band The Icicle Works released their iconic single “Birds Fly (Whisper to a Scream)” in June 1983 on Situation Two, with a re-release the next year during March 1984 for Beggars Banquet. The track is definitely one of the most beloved songs of the 80s.
This is perfect track to close Chapter Seven: The Lost Sister, when Eleven decides to go home and help her friends.
Chapter 8: The Mindflayer features a callback to season one where Jonathan is talking to Will about Bowie, Joy Division, and The Smiths. During this original scene The Clash’s “Should I Stay or Should I Go” plays. Jonathan has the idea to play is again when Will is communicating via morse code while possessed by the Mindflayer.
Jonathan and Nancy arrive at the private investigator Murray’s house, “Can I Do What I Want,” a track from Detroit’s Shock Therapy is playing over the car stereo. Shock Therapy are well known in goth circles for their song “Hate Is Just a Four Letter Word,” also featured on their 1985 debut album.
Any We Missed?
That’s it for the post-punk and new-wave references in Stranger Things 2. We are already looking forward to the next season, and we are willing to bet we will hear some music from The Cure, and Depeche Mode on the already highly anticipated Stranger Things 3, which is set to take place during 1985.
Meanwhile S U R V I V E’s Stranger Things 2 OST will be available December 2 on interdimensional blue vinyl.