Stranger Things: Season 2
Musical Score By: Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein
Distributed by: Lakeshore Records
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
On October 27, 2017, the second season of the immensely popular Netflix series, Stranger Things, debuted globally. The show takes us back to 1984 and transports us to Hawkins, Indiana, a small town which has undergone some incredible things lately thanks to a rather secretive local laboratory. Having barely survived the monster known to a group of young Dungeons & Dragons fans as the Demogorgon, our heroes are struggling with the trauma of that survival and those they lost. Unbeknownst to them, the portal to the monstrous world known as the Upside Down is still open and the citizens of Hawkins are still in danger. How will they face the new challenges set before them…and how will they survive?
The musical score of Stranger Things was created by Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein, members of the Austin band SURVIVE. The Duffer Brothers, series creators, decided on Dixon and Stein thanks to their ability to spin classic synth sound into something a bit more modern. Born in the early 1980s, Dixon and Stein are well-versed in the music of the era, gravitating toward the analog and electronic tones of the times. Their love for this musical style made the duo a perfect choice to create a musical score for a series set in the early 80s. Their composing efforts earned them a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Main Title Theme Music, two Grammy nominations for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media, and more.
According to the composers, “In Season 2 we’re introducing new styles of composition, while still revisiting old themes when appropriate. We’ve created new elements to support the story, but still want to remain true to the sound of Season 1.” Thus, the score still has that synth flare found in horror and sci-fi films of the decade, some of which appear to be inspired by John Carpenter’s spooky repetitive sounds and pulses without actually being exact copies of the brilliant man’s works. There’s an unsettling feeling in the opening tracks, reflecting the emotions of the individual characters as they struggle to get back to who they were before they were introduced to the Upside Down.
Moments in which we encounter the Upside Down world are rather chilling, with darker, deeper, elongated synth sounds that will send chills up your spine. There’s a sense of distortion that reflects the dark and opposing quality of the Upside Down and the danger hidden within. There are a couple of upbeat moments in the score, but for the most part the synths are designed to remind us that this is the 80s and that our heroes are about to face the fight of their young lives.
Once again, the composing team of Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein have created the perfect score to go along with the visuals and heart-racing moments of Stranger Things: Season 2. Having watched the entire season, I can honestly say that the score enhanced the viewing process, adding to the emotion, danger, adrenaline and angst of each scene. Well done!