15 ’80s songs that need to be in Stranger Things season 5
Since its inception in 2016, Stranger Things has become a treasure trove for classic ‘80s songs. From bringing back the evocative sound of Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” to turning people into Metallica fans because of “Master of Puppets,” the showrunners have become adept at creating the perfect soundtrack for the show’s sci-fi horror atmosphere. While the series has already been streaming for four seasons, there are still plenty of ‘80s classics to go through. With the next season on the horizon, there are more than a handful of songs that deserve to soundtrack what’s sure to be the big payoff to the gang’s dark adventure in Hawkins, Indiana. Here we’ve compiled 15 songs that should be featured in the final season of Stranger Things.
Read more: Why Stranger Things’ Eddie Munson was the unsung hero of 2022
"I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For" – U2
As our heroes end their final journey through the Upside Down, they’ll need something to renew their spirits, and nothing quite has that effect like early U2. “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” might not be the most optimistic number, but it does embody the idea of forging ahead and facing everything that lies before you. The gang has their work cut out for them after the effects of Vecna last season, but this is the kind of track that could be the natural comedown when Hawkins is finally at peace.
"I Wanna Dance With Somebody" – Whitney Houston
Outside of trying to save Hawkins from what’s sure to be the brink of destruction, the kids still have to worry about finishing high school as well. The Snow Ball tied things up nicely in season 2, so hopefully there will be another dance/prom as the kids finally grow out of high school. In terms of the story, this Whitney Houston classic could be either a comedown from all of the action or just a way to break up the terror going on around them. The kids need some fun in their lives, and this is definitely an uplifting classic to do just that.
"Head Like a Hole" – Nine Inch Nails
There were definitely some metal tendencies in the last season like Eddie Munson’s iconic performance of Metallica’s “Master of Puppets,” but it’s time for Trent Reznor to add his industrial slant to everything. Nine Inch Nails’ debut did come out in 1989, so the release could line up with the kids getting in touch with something a little more angsty before shit starts to hit the fan. If Eddie is indeed still alive, you’d better believe that he’d come back listening to music like this.
"Just Like Heaven" – The Cure
For all of the demons and adventures embedded within the show, there is a romantic side to it, too, and the Cure are ideal for soundtracking any love montage that might happen. The Cure have always had a bit of melancholy in their music, but “Just Like Heaven” is about as poppy as they come, with lyrics about how much of a whirlwind love can be. The past few seasons have dwelled on Mike and El’s bond, and their troubled relationship is what Robert Smith’s songs were made for.
"Personal Jesus" – Depeche Mode
Since the opening theme of this show is centered around cold keyboards, why not bring in the band responsible for those dark sounds in the first place? Though “Personal Jesus” is a later cut from Depeche Mode, it’s still close enough to fit into the show (think what they did with the ominous version of “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)” by Journey last season). Stranger Things has always thrived on horror, and this is the kind of ominous music that was made for the show.
"Where Is My Mind?" – Pixies
So we left off last season with the gang witnessing the demonic Upside Down finally coming into reality. Yes, that sounds like a mindfuck, and this Pixies song encapsulates that feeling to a tee. The minute that those blistering guitars enter and Kim Deal’s falsetto takes off, you immediately feel like you’re caught between both sides of reality, just like the kids are currently. While the use of this song was much more dire in Fight Club, Stranger Things could reclaim it as its own.
"Fast Car" – Tracy Chapman
There’s a certain level of heartache that comes with watching Stranger Things, and Tracy Chapman knows that kind of pain all too well. The Chapman classic has always been about using that car as a way to escape your problems back home to find yourself, and that could be the ideal companion piece to El and Mike calling it quits or Jonathan and Nancy slowly drifting apart. If anyone deserves a sonic send-off like this though, it’s Hopper, making that final decision of whether to sacrifice himself for the town he worked to protect.
"Paradise City" – Guns N’ Roses
Part of the beauty of the right soundtrack song is making a good first impression, and this is the kind of kickoff you’d kill for. Just like the opening of season 4 started with Kate Bush, Guns N’ Roses is the kind of aggressive move to skyrocket us into the next phase of Stranger Things, as everyone prepares to take on what Vecna unleashed. The kids are probably too young to connect to “Paradise City,” but this is the kind of track that Steve Harrington has been waiting for.
"Bring the Noise" – Public Enemy
For the past few years, we have heard little to no hip-hop in Stranger Things, and that needs to be corrected quickly. Even though the golden age of Run-DMC and Beastie Boys wouldn't have worked in the context of the show, this Public Enemy cut could spread the word about what’s going down in Hawkins. The gang already has their backs against the wall with the town turning against them, so it’s time for them to make some noise and go into battle with Chuck D in the background.
"Kickstart My Heart" – Mötley Crüe
“Master of Puppets” already made for a pretty badass scene last season, and we’re bound to get some more metal to capitalize off of that moment. Mötley Crüe already have Netflix royalties from The Dirt, so why not keep ‘em coming with Stranger Things? “Kickstart My Heart” would be an excellent soundtrack for the gang storming the Upside Down and taking on the Shadow Monster. Since the whole underworld is filled with demonic creatures, metal is definitely the best move here.
"Father Figure" – George Michael
There have been rumblings that Will had romantic feelings for Mike this past season, and there is sure to be a storyline that contextualizes that further. Seeing how George Michael was closeted for most of his career, this could be a striking pick should Willprofess his feelings to Mike. Maybe Mike’s relationship with El will get complicated, but this one is for the Will/Mike ship.
"It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)" – R.E.M.
The final scene from Season 4 already ended on a grim note with an apocalyptic look at Hawkins, and this R.E.M. cut is ideal to pick up where we left off. The breach between the Upside Down and the rest of the world has already been cracked, so some apocalyptic songs are definitely needed in a time like this. Maybe Stranger things will go for black comedy with the song playing as the camera pans over Hawkins being annihilated.
"Like a Prayer" – Madonna
How has Stranger Things gone through most of the ‘80s and barely touched on the Material Girl’s discography? While a handful of Madonna cuts were featured in Season 3, this song could potentially work the same magic that “Running Up That Hill” did — but only in the right context. “Like a Prayer” could just be another montage-style song, but it has potential for a grand fade out as we see Hawkins for the last time.
"She Bangs the Drums" – The Stone Roses
Now “She Bangs the Drums” is a bit of a deep cut, more from the alternative side of the spectrum. But this is about as close to a genuine love song as the Stone Roses got, and its psychedelic feel is ideal for a trippy sequence in the Upside Down or as the soundtrack for one of the high school scenes. It’s worth mentioning that Robin is also known to be the most eccentric out of the gang, so this would also fit great on her playlist.
"Batdance" – Prince
Stranger Things has always been nostalgic for ‘80s kids, so why not add a cinematic layer to it with something from the Batman soundtrack? This funky Prince cut would be a great scene-setter for an icebreaker at the high school or when the gang is hanging out back home. The power of nerds was a definitive part of that era anyway, so let’s just get the superhero worship in as well.