In 2022, Stranger Things 4 set an unprecedented record in the age of streaming. It became the most-watched Netflix English-language series in its first 28 days on the platform, with 1.35 billion hours viewed.
When Stranger Things season four volume two dropped episodes 8 and 9 entertained viewers for more than three hundred million hours in the first 3 days alone.
The premiere of season 4 also shot Kate Bush’s 1985 single “Running up That Hill” to the top of the charts, generating her an additional $2.3 million in streaming royalties and placing her song at no. 1 on Billboard, a rank it had never previously reached.
Since fan-favorite Max Mayfield chose “Running Up That Hill” to release her from Vecna’s grasp, here’s a list of the songs we think the other characters would pick.
Eleven – “That’s What Friends Are For” by Dionne Warwick, Elton John, Gladys Knight, and Stevie Wonder
This crooner relays the message that no matter your hardships, friends remain by your side.
Eleven first stumbled through Hawkins's woods with basic English language knowledge and even less awareness of friendship. Throughout her story arc, she’s adapted to the meaning of friends and repeats her favorite mantra in all four seasons, “Friends don’t lie.”
Anytime her friends face danger, she puts their safety before her own and fights the Demogorgon, the Mind Flayer, Vecna, or any other evil force determined to destroy her.
Standout Lyrics: “Keep smiling, keep shining. Knowing you can always count on me for sure.”
Why: The entire montage with Max drives home this idea. Eleven loses consciousness when she uses her powers, but as long as her friends survive, she is happy.
Lucas – “You Make My Dreams (Come True)” by Hall & Oates
Although Lucas claimed his love for Kate Bush after her music saved Max’s life, I think he’d enjoy this poppy hit from Hall & Oates. He’d flash a bright smile while blasting this tune in his walkman. It’s sappy enough to represent his and Max’s relationship but not too sappy for Max to hate, and Lucas values her opinions greatly.
Plus, Lucas’ devotion to Max stagnates through the seasons. They love each other and remain devoted even if they aren't dating.
Standout Lyrics: “And wrap yourself around me, cause I ain't the way you found me, and I’ll never be the same.”
Why: Lucas’ crush on Max developed from a childhood relationship to an unbreakable bond in season four. He didn’t care if they were dating or not. All he wanted for Max was for her to trust him and tell him the truth about Vecna. Their relationship benefits Max’s strong and sassy personality and Lucas’ humor and loyalty, especially when he waits in the hospital for her to wake up.
Dustin – “You’re My Best Friend” by Queen
Dustin is a Queen fan who listens to this song when he looks at old scrapbooks and reflects on the bittersweet and nostalgic memories together. Queen may have intended this song as a romantic gesture to a woman, but I think Dustin looks at it as an ode to his strong friendships. Throughout the tumultuous times of middle school friendship and literal life-or-death situations, Dustin remained loyal to those he cared about.
Standout Lyrics: “You’re my best friend, oh you make me live, whenever this world is cruel to me, I got you to help me forgive.”
Why: The entire scene with Eddie and Dustin. You know the one.
Mike – “Don’t You Forget About Me” by Simple Minds
Mike Wheeler is an angsty teenager. He is in love with a girl with superpowers and living apart from his best friend, but he keeps his heart intact. He loves his friends and will do anything for the girl of his dreams, El. This song depicts a protagonist determined to help his love.
Standout Lyrics: “It’s my feeling we’ll win in the end, I won’t harm you or touch your defenses. Vanity, insecurity, ah. Don’t you forget about me.”
Why: Mike’s love for Eleven is clear from the pilot; however, he didn’t utter that one-syllable word to her until the finale of this season when he attempted to bring her back from Vecna’s grip.
Will – “If You Love Somebody Set Them Free” by Sting
If Will’s pining for Mike wasn’t obvious from his elaborate painting for the “heart” of the friend group, Will’s bawling after gifting Mike the painting, or the intense metaphorical talk he and Jonathan had about being honest with each other, then Noah Schnapp’s confirmation of Will’s sexuality should do the trick.
Will does anything for Mike, including putting Mike’s feelings before his own, to save their friendship. He thinks if Mike is happy with Eleven, he can preserve his feelings and avoid getting hurt in the end. I can also see Will bobbing his bowl cut to this tune.
Standout Lyrics– “If you love somebody, if you love someone, set them free.”
Why: Reference the scene where Will gives Mike his painting.
Steve – “Can’t Fight This Feeling” by REO Speedwagon
Steve’s charismatic personality, fabulous hair, and undying love for Nancy places him as the pining protagonist in “Can’t Fight This Feeling.” Even when he’s hired to save the world and protect the kids, he doesn’t shy away from his adoration for the prissy, gun-toting older sister of Mike Wheeler. I can’t help but picture Steve in front of a mirror, combing his luscious locks while singing along to this track. Perhaps playing it on a boombox outside of Nancy’s window.
Standout Lyrics: “You gave my life direction, you make everything so clear. And even as I wander, I’m keeping you in sight.”
Why: Who can forget Steve’s confession to Nancy while driving a stolen mobile home? You know he’s chased after that fantasy ever since the duo met in season one.
Nancy – “Material Girl” by Madonna
When viewers met Nancy in season one, she became entranced with Steve and his hair. She paid little attention to Barb and missed out on saving Barb due to her fascination with showing Steve her new bra. This pop ballad backs Nancy’s self-involved personality.
Throughout each season, she demonstrates her fondness for material items, including her bras, her clothing, and in this season, her gun collection.
Standout Lyrics: “Some boys romance, some boys slow dance, that’s all right with me, if they can’t raise my interest, then I have to let them be.”
Why: Nancy’s yearning to dismiss Jonathan hurts to watch, but I anticipate a crude breakup in season five. You know she wants to tag along with Steve on his RV journey.
Eddie – “Master of Puppets” by Metallica
The song is about drugs and their effect on drug users, particularly how the drug is a master and the user is the puppet, but the song also speaks out against conformity. And if Eddie Munson hates anything, he hates assimilation and conformity. He does not follow the rules as society sees fit, and he stands up for what’s right, whether or not those around him think he should.
Plus, “Master of Puppets” is a genre-defining ode to metal, which as Stranger Things viewers know, Eddie is all about metal.
Standout Section: The intro guitar riff.
Why: Watching Eddie delve into his fascination for metal music during a crucial plot point furthered his character’s discovery of self-worth.
Robin – “Take on Me” by A-ha
Robin’s passion for crushing on unavailable girls embodies the central message of this song. The initial anxiety but eventual caving in to confidence. Robin emits nervous energy, but ultimately she can find her way of dealing with complicated tasks. I have hope for her love life in season five.
Also, the upbeat nature of this song matches Robin’s quirky personality and inability to stop talking at inappropriate moments. I feel the beat represents what’s going on in her head at all times and the speed she thinks.
Standout Lyrics: “We’re talking away, I, no, I don’t know what to say, I’ll say it anyway.”
Why: Most scenes with Robin showcase her hilarious personality trait of excessive chatter.
Jonathan – “Should I Stay or Should I Go” by The Clash
Jonathan shows this classic to Will in season one during a flashback when their parents are fighting. The song could apply to both brothers, but I think it makes more sense given Jonathan’s underlying urge to protect Will and his growing desire to understand him in season 4. The song stirs up heartfelt memories between the brothers, positive to unleash Jonathan from Vecna’s grasp.
Standout Lyrics: “If you say that you are mine, I’ll be here ‘til the end of time.”
Why: Again, the song focuses on romance, but the brotherly love the Byers boys feel for each other transcends time. All they need to do is communicate with one another.
Argyle – “Pass the Dutchie” by Musical Youth
Argyle is the new comedic relief character. He is a laid-back pizza boy who wears surfer shirts and drives a pizza delivery truck. The tune with the enchanting reggae rhythms would release him from Vecna’s clutch. Being the weed connoisseur he is, hearing a catchy jingle about weed will awaken positive memories and happy times for Argyle.
Notable Lyrics: “Pass the dutchie ‘pon the left-hand side.”
Why: Argyle loves weed!
Viewers learned music could conjure positive (or negative) memories, which can loosen Vecna’s chokehold. We saw how Max’s infatuation with “Running Up That Hill” saved her multiple times, and I wondered which other songs would save the crew from Vecna.
Until we see where the cast and Vecna take us next season, keep streaming Kate Bush and all the hits of the 80s.
This article was produced by Wealth of Geeks.