The (Not So) Unsung Hero of Stranger Things Season Four: Vecna vs. Music

Stranger Things returned to Netflix with the first part of season 4, on May 27th, 2022 and the second half of the season is set to drop on July 1st, 2022. Season 4 has reminded the world what a great synch placement can do for a project and how the music in movies, TV, and video games can be one of the best forms of music discovery. Kate Bush’s ‘Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)’ has had a wild ride to the top the charts after its prominent and plot-driven placement in this season of Stranger Things. ‘Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)’ was Tunefind’s Top TV Song on June 8, 2022 along with the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s May Top TV Song chart. As we look forward to the supersized last two episodes of the season, Tunefind is talking about how music has become this seasons hero. 

*Warning! – Season 4 part 1 spoilers ahead*

Stranger Things is not the first popular TV show to incorporate music in such a way that it becomes its own character, and it certainly won’t be the last. However, Stranger Things’ is well suited to blend fiction and reality effortlessly thanks to it’s sci-fi genre. It’s this tactic that brought the season 4 musical magic to life on screen. Max Mayfield (played by Sadie Sink) has a brave encounter with this season’s villain during a pivotal scene in episode 4 and the audience is shown how her favorite song helps her find the strength to face off with the psychic nemesis. Early on, the viewer can hear ‘Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)’ on Max’s walkman leading to the climatic moment in episode 4. As the rest of the season unfolds after this crucial music moment, ‘Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)’ is continually heard through Max’s headphones on a non-stop loop–a 46 minute loop to be exact–in order to protect herself from Vecna (played by Jamie Campbell Bower) and his killer trance.

Music wasn’t in the initial season outline, but we knew Max was going to get cursed, and we knew we needed some way for her to defeat this curse.” -Ross Duffer, Tudum

Stranger Things creators Matt and Ross Duffer, or better known as The Duffer Brothers, shared the reason they chose music to be what saves people from Vecna’s murderous mind control. Speaking to Tudum Ross explained, “Music wasn’t in the initial season outline, but we knew Max was going to get cursed, and we knew we needed some way for her to defeat this curse. We were looking, just medically, into people that have comas and all of this stuff, and I think that’s honestly what led to the music.” During episode 4, Director Hatch is guiding Robin and Nancy through the music room of Pennhurst Asylum when he explains that they have found music to be very calming for his patients. He goes on to explain that the right song, particularly a song that holds some emotional meaning to the listener, can be a salient stimulus.

The APA defines stimulus salience as, “the importance, intensity, and detectability of a stimulus. Higher salience is usually associated with quicker learning.” In other words, a song (stimulus) that has a strong emotional connection for the listener is especially powerful (salience). This part of the plot is not entirely fictional and has been studied in the medical and scientific communities. Music therapy has proven beneficial for patients being treated for a myriad of traumas. Perhaps even more impressive are instances in the medical community where a song is credited as helping patients regain consciousness after having been in a coma. 

Max’s favorite song certainly makes for an epic soundtrack for the battle against Vecna. Luckily, the Duffer Brothers have already confirmed that fans can look forward to even more Kate Bush in the last two episodes of the season. “We keep going back because we keep wanting to put more Kate Bush in there. There’s an epic Kate Bush moment in the finale [episode 9] that we weren’t expecting, that we kind of discovered as we were editing,” shared Matt Duffer while speaking with Tudum. The audience can also look forward to what is sure to be an epic moment when newcomer Eddie Munson (played by Joseph Quinn) will finally show the audience what he can do on a guitar.

The Stranger Things season 4 score album composed by Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein will be released on July 1st with the last two episodes of the season.

If you ever need a reason to talk about your favorite song, you can simply explain how it could be the key to saving your life! Check out our Instagram poll and tell us what song would help you defeat Vecna!

Check out Tunefind for all the songs from Stranger Things season 4. Stranger Things season 4, part 2 will return to Netflix on Friday July 1st, 2022.


〉Listen now: Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God) by Kate Bush

〉More music by Kate Bush

Top TV Song Last Week: Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God) by Kate Bush

〉Full list of songs featured in the Stranger Things soundtrack

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