• Thu. Sep 29th, 2022

The Stranger Things Effect: How Needle Drops Can Catapult Classic Songs

Aug 18, 2022

A year ago, as Emmy voters were considering potential contenders for outstanding music supervision, would any of them have guessed that Kate Bush would enter the top 10 of U.S. song consumption? Or that Metallica would see a resurgence based on a key synch? But such is the power of the soundtrack to Netflix’s “Stranger Things,” which can catapult a song from a few thousand streams to hundreds of millions.

Credit music supervisor Nora Felder for identifying and clearing the placements for use in season 4. Bush’s story is particularly impressive. The reclusive singer saw her 1985 song “Running Up That Hill” receive a more than 22,000% surge since the week the series dropped and has since gone on to become one of 30 most-streamed songs of 2022. To date, it has clocked nearly 600 million streams on Spotify alone. 

Emmy-nominated Felder says the show’s executive producers Matt and Ross Duffer — better known as the Duffer brothers — sought a song that resonated with the intense, wide-ranging emotional experiences Max (Sadie Sink) was undergoing. Says Felder, “It immediately struck me with its deep chords of the possible connection to Max’s emotional struggles and took on more significance as Bush’s song marinated in my conscious awareness.”

Clearing the synch was Felder’s next task. Bush is selective when it comes to use of her songs. So Felder made sure to get script pages and footage for Bush to review so the singer could see exactly how the scene — and the song — would play out.

Perhaps not coincidentally, Metallica’s “Master of Puppets” was also released within a year of Bush’s “Running Up That Hill.” It, too, benefitted from Felder’s needle drop. In the season finale, Eddie Munson (Joseph Quinn) plays the song in the Upside Down with the rest of the Hawkins crew and promises to take on the evil Vecna. Felder says the song was woven into the script during pre-production. 

 “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” music supervisor Robin Urdang sought period-appropriate needle drops. For when Rachel Brosnahan’s Midge goes to a lesbian bar, Urdang wanted to steer clear of “a typical, known lesbian song. We wanted something underground, and nobody knew. I was looking and looking for the ownership.” The song she used (Miss Beverly Shaw’s “I’m Nobody’s Baby”) may be destined to remain a cult hit, having amassed only 5,000 streams, per data from Luminate. 

Original songs are less predictable, but the hugely influential “Euphoria” is about as good a musical launching pad as it gets. Zendaya and Labrinth’s “All for Us” has logged more than 300 million streams since its initial drop in 2019. 

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