The Iconic Soundtrack Of ‘Stranger Things’

Netflix’s retro monster/scifi series Stranger Things was a breakout hit for the network and its electronic soundtrack, by Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein, has become one of the most influential synth scores in years.

The iconic score has also become popular music for synthesists to cover. Here are a range of examples, ranging from faithful covers to upside-down versions:

Here’s a cello version:

Here’s an a cappella version:

Here’s an 8-bit take on both the show and the soundtrack:

This last video, via Reverb.com, synthesist Justin DeLay offers his take on how to recreate some of the sounds of Stranger Things, using vintage analog synthesizers.

1:27 – “Main Title” – K. Dixon / M. Stein
5:15 – “Kids” – K. Dixon / M. Stein
11:22 – “Castle Byers” – K. Dixon / M. Stein

Synthesizers used:

Roland Juno-6, Roland Juno 106, Sequential Circuits Prophet 5, MiniMoog Model D& Ableton Live.

Videos via pyrofiliac, Abel Mendoza, Puma Scorz, sprunging for voltage, Daniel LeGrand, CineFix, AnalogSynthMuseum, Synthstrom Audible, marsupialmicron , Marcello Quintela, David Clements, Calle Nilsson, LongBeachProductions, Harrison Houde, Jeffrey Tonos, S U R V I V E, The Warp Zone

31 thoughts on “The Iconic Soundtrack Of ‘Stranger Things’

    1. It’s a C major 7th chord played by an arpeggiator. I’m pretty sure I’ve accidentally played something similar at some point over the the last 30 years or so. As with most successful electronic music, the piece is deceptively simple.

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    2. Completely different tracks that no one that actually listens to the two tracks could confuse.

      They do both use arpeggiators, though.

      Sort of like the people that dismiss the music of John Williams because it’s just a ripoff of Holst/Stravinsky/Korngold/Fill in the blanks.

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    3. I might be inclined to believe that if the entire soundtrack wasn’t derivative as hell.

      Or the entire tv show itself.

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      1. I understand if it’s not your cup of tea, but the whole point of the series is to be retro inspired fun.

        So, of course it shows inspiration from 80s films and music – it happens in that world!

        I ate up both the show and the music!

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      2. Interesting discussion, given that TD’s soundtracks are VERY derivative.

        Listen to Wavelength sometime – they just took a bunch of old tracks, added new lead lines over them and called them something new.

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    4. This arpeggio is 12 notes. There’s is 8. This one actually contains MORE musical content.

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  1. Oh god no not this again. The soundtrack is alright I guess, but nothing that hasn’t been done many times before. The series itself however is overrated trash.

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    1. overrated maybe but not trash – it is a great soundtrack when it stands alone without the context of people fawning over it – it is the fawning that annoys me not the music

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    1. Yep. I’m a synth nerd so the synthy covers are fun but if I’d written it, pretty sure I’d be most excited about the cello version. Proof that you’re not hiding behind a filter cutoff. 🙂

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  2. @ Jert How about GRAND THEFT AUTO 5? – the biggest selling game in history, so probably more successful than any soundtrack that TD have ever done before. SURVIVE are solid, but never in the same league as TD, at least, just yet. Give ’em another 40 years and let’s see.

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    1. How about GRAND THEFT AUTO 5?

      TD did something like 5 hours of music – but is there anything in it that new or memorable?

      I really don’t know, because the ‘soundtrack album’ is mostly a bunch of crap pop and remixes. And I haven’t seen anybody covering the GTA5 score. TD may have done some great work for it, but who knows?

      Nothing against TD, but TD always did soundtrack work for the money. Froese was very open about this. And most of it was pretty forgettable work for forgettable films.

      As a result, out of the dozens of soundtracks they did, there really are only a few that are musically interesting (ie., Sorcerer, Risky Business, Thief). And with Risky Business – probably their best-known soundtrack – there’s really only a few minutes of original music in the score. The rest is rehashes of their previous work or pop songs.

      If you want to argue that Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein are a ‘lite’ version of something, they’re probabnly a lot closer to Carpenter than TD. The only thing that sounded like TD in ‘Stranger Things’ was the TD tracks that they used.

      But even calling Dixon & Stein ‘Carpenter lite’ isn’t really accurate – they’re doing their own thing and being pretty damn successful at it.

      Frankly, it’s pathetic that they’ve scored an 8-hour series, released two double albums of music, and best the basement synth trolls can do is whine about it.

      The post suggested that the Stranger Things soundtrack is one of “the most influential synth scores in years.” If you don’t think that’s the case, what ARE the synth scores of the last few years that YOU think are more influential? Is the GTA5 score really the best you can come up with?

      I’m very glad that the Stranger Things soundtrack has been a hit. This means that a lot of other directors and producers are going to be open to using electronic soundtracks, and that’s great.

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      1. Come on Jert you know what you said originally:

        “Has TD done a soundtrack of note in the last 25 years?”

        They clearly have, whether it was for “the money” (aaarg – not the money!!!) or just that they had hours of “forgettable” and “unoriginal” music lying around they wanted to recycle. It’s still been heard, and probably enjoyed, by millions of people. That bit in GTA 5 when you steal a plane for the first time and fly in to Los Santos and the TD score gradually swells up as the sun rises through the smog…… gets me every time. Didn’t you enjoy that bit Jert? I bet you did.

        ” And I haven’t seen anybody covering the GTA5 score.”

        I think there’s a few out there:

        https://www.google.com/search?q=gta+5+cover&pws=0&gl=us&gws_rd=cr#q=gta+5+music+cover&pws=0&gl=us&tbm=vid

        I have nothing against the score for Stranger Things. In fact, I really like it. I like the show too. And John Carpenter is great. And all the people who influenced Carpenter are really talented too! And that dude, who first came up with the idea of banging two rocks together to make a beat – what a guy!

        Can we all be friends? There’s so much hate in the world. We all love synths, right?

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  3. Hop onboard TARDIS my companions.
    Destination any of the hundreds synth themes for TV, Radio, Movies the world over in the 80s.

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    1. Iconic are Airwolf, Knight Rider, Miami Vice, Street Hawk, Terminator et all.

      Stranger Things theme is just a knock off.

      Didn’t the thousands synth themes in 80s never happen?

      Come on Synthopia you weren’t born yesterday.
      Only wet behind the ears thinks this is iconic.

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  4. John Carpenter is the real deal… this is just an homage to his iconic soundtracks of the 80s

    honestly its fucking sad nobody knows this

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    1. You managed to find 3 tracks that sound nothing like the ST theme, other than synths with an 80s vibe. Bravo, wasn’t easy.

      So what are we debating here!? Who used the arpeggiator first? Those notes in that order? The chromatic scale?

      If the director wanted an 80s vibe, you job is to do so. But I’m sure that is something that hobbyist composers don’t quite understand when they quickly bash other people’s work.

      The score made the show much better and therefore it served it’s purpose. Alone as well it was a major success. Sounds like you guys are doing something wrong, not them.

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  5. Threads like this makes me wanna stop visiting the site. Such a toxic comunity. Where are your sound credits? 4 tracks on soundcloud?
    They had a great gig and they nailed it. Deal with it.

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    1. Right on. It’s pretty sad that anyone who is successful and is a “new artist” of the past couple years, the comments here just insults. It’s a joke and a turn off.

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  6. The show was an 80’s period piece. Obviously the soundtrack composers were hired specifically to do something derivative from that decade.

    I also don’t think there’s any misconception among the myriad of covers and buyers of the soundtrack that it is little more than a tribute to what came before.

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