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The Stranger Things original soundtracks are composed by Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein of the electronic band Survive.[1] They make extensive use of synthesizers in homage to 1980s artists and film composers including Jean-Michel Jarre, Tangerine Dream, Vangelis, Goblin, John Carpenter, Giorgio Moroder, and Fabio Frizzi.[2]



The Duffer Brothers were first made aware of Dixon and Stein's music while watching the 2014 thriller film The Guest, which featured music produced and performed by their band Survive.[3] While creating a mock trailer that that was later used to sell the show to Netflix, the Duffers decided to use Survive's song "Dirge" to serve as the trailer's soundtrack.[1][4] Once the show was green-lit, the Duffers contacted Survive around July 2015 to ask if the group was still together and available to potentially score the season; in turn, Dixon and Stein provided the production team with dozens of unreleased songs from their band's past, which aided them in their bid for the job.[1] The Duffers were ecstatic after listening to the material provided, and they implored the duo to quit their day jobs to produce music for the show full-time.[5] They obliged, and once they were aboard the production, the two worked with producers to select some of their older music to rework for the show while simultaneously developing new music which was to chiefly serve as character motifs.[4] The tracks produced by the duo were sent during filming to The Duffers, who later labelled the demos as "sketches" due to Dixon and Stein's odd title choices (“Jupiter 8 Spirit Winds,” “Soakers Forum 3,” and “Lighting Candles and Eggy Pizza" are among the most unique of the batch).[5] A "sketch" that was originally titled "Prophecy" was later developed into the show's now-iconic theme. In all, just under 14 hours of music was produced for the show over the course of one year.[5] Dixon and Stein had been hired before the casting process, so their motif demos were used and played over the actors' audition tapes, aiding in the casting selection.[4][6]


The show's theme is based on an unused piece Stein composed much earlier that ended up in a library of work that was available for potential commercial licensing.[1] The duo shared a "loose" version of the potential demo with the production staff, who thought that with some reworking it would be good for the opening credits.[7][8] Dixon and Stein proceeded to retool the demo, and on the staff's suggestion, made it "bigger, bolder and kind of build to a climax," a goal that was ultimately achieved with the inclusion of Prophet V, Roland SH-2, and Mellotron synthesizers, coupled with the usage of various filters.[9] They also produced additional versions that varied in length, so as to ease the integration of the theme into the as-of-then uncompleted, tentative opening sequence.[7]

After the release of the show's first season and its meteoric rise in popularity that followed, Dixon and Stein's composition quickly gained a large amount of popularity as well. Various musical entertainers such as the band Blink-182 have used the song in their live productions, and a number of amateur musicians have posted cover versions to YouTube.[10] The song also won the award for Outstanding Main Title Theme Music at the 69th Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards.[11]



Year Title Composer
2016 Stranger Things, Vol. 1 Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein
Stranger Things, Vol. 2
2017 Stranger Things 2


Year Title Artists
2017 Stranger Things: Music from the Netflix Original Series Various
2018 Stranger Things: Halloween Sounds from the Upside Down Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein

Other musicEdit

In addition to original music, Stranger Things features period music from artists including The Clash, Joy Division, Toto, New Order, The Bangles, Foreigner, Echo and the Bunnymen, Peter Gabriel, and Corey Hart, as well as excerpts from Tangerine Dream, John Carpenter, and Vangelis.[12][13] In particular, The Clash's "Should I Stay or Should I Go" was specifically picked to play at pivotal moments of the story, such as when Will is trying to communicate with Joyce from the Upside Down.[13]


Year Award Category Recipient Result Ref.
2016 Hollywood Music in Media Awards Best Main Title – TV Show/Digital Streaming Series Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein Nominated [14][15]
Best Original Score – TV Show/Miniseries Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein Nominated
Outstanding Music Supervision – Television Nora Felder Won
2017 Grammy Awards Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media Stranger Things, Vol. 1 Nominated [16]
Stranger Things, Vol. 2 Nominated
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein Won [17]
2018 Grammys Awards Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media Stranger Things: Music from the Netflix Original Series Nominated [18]


  1. ^ a b c d Kaufman, Gil (August 29, 2016). "Stranger Things Co-Composer Shares the Story Behind 2016's Most Unlikely Musical Sensation". Billboard. Retrieved August 31, 2016.
  2. ^ "Stranger Things: 10 eerie electronic gems to hear if you loved the Netflix show". FACT Magazine: Music News, New Music. Retrieved September 5, 2016.
  3. ^ Gruttadaro, Andrew (August 2, 2016). "How the Duffer Brothers Picked the Perfect Music for 'Stranger Things'". Complex. Retrieved December 2, 2018.
  4. ^ a b c Weingarten, Christopher (August 1, 2016). "'Stranger Things': Meet the Band Behind Show's Creepy, Nostalgic Score". Rolling Stone. Retrieved February 10, 2017.
  5. ^ a b c The Duffer Brothers (July 19, 2016). "Stranger Things episode 5: The Duffer Brothers explain the show's soundtrack". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved December 2, 2018.
  6. ^ Thomas, Helen. "An Interview With S U R V I V E: The Mysterious Band Behind The Epic 'Stranger Things' Score". NME. Retrieved September 5, 2016.
  7. ^ a b Nguyen, Hanh. "'Stranger Things' Composers Interview: Duo Discusses Soundtrack, That Haunting Theme Song and More". IndieWire. Retrieved October 29, 2017.
  8. ^ Jones, Damian. "'Stranger Things' composers reveal how they made title-track for Netflix series". NME. Retrieved October 29, 2017.
  9. ^ Welsh, April Clare. "Stranger Things composers break down theme music on Song Exploder". Fact Magazine. Retrieved October 29, 2017.
  10. ^ Rich, Katey. "Even the Guys Who Wrote the Stranger Things Theme Can't Believe How Popular It's Become". Vanity Fair. Retrieved October 29, 2017.
  11. ^ Sodomsky, Sam. "Emmys 2017: "Stranger Things" Wins Outstanding Theme Music Award". Pitchfork. Retrieved October 29, 2017.
  12. ^ Mylnar, Phillip (July 25, 2016). "Unpacking the '80s nostalgia of the 'Stranger Things' soundtrack". Mashable. Retrieved February 10, 2017.
  13. ^ a b Minsker, Evan (August 10, 2016). "Netflix's Stranger Things Soundtrack Detailed". Pitchfork. Retrieved August 19, 2016.
  14. ^ "2016 Music In Visual Media Nominees – Hollywood Music In Media Awards - HMMA". Hollywood Music in Media Awards.
  15. ^ "HMMA Winners – Hollywood Music In Media Awards - HMMA". Hollywood Music in Media Awards.
  16. ^ "59th Annual GRAMMY Awards Winners & Nominees". The Recording Academy. Archived from the original on February 13, 2017. Retrieved January 24, 2017.
  17. ^ Littleton, Cynthia (September 10, 2017). "Creative Arts Emmy Winners: 'Stranger Things,' 'Westworld,' 'Big Little Lies' Win Big — Complete List". Variety. Retrieved September 10, 2017.
  18. ^ "2019 Grammy Awards: The Full List Of Winners". NPR. February 10, 2019. Retrieved February 11, 2019.