The Off the Record vinyl record music column features "Stranger Things: Soundtrack From the Netflix Original Series, Season 3."

Off the Record is a music column featuring a new or vintage vinyl record each week.

 

Title: “Stranger Things: Soundtrack From the Netflix Original Series, Season 3”

Artist: Various

Release date: July 2019

Favorite track: “Cold as Ice”

This isn’t like the other “Stranger Things” soundtracks I’ve featured.

The Netflix show is set in the early 1980s in Hawkins, Indiana, and this soundtrack reflects that. Instead of the electronic, space-y scores of the seasons by Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein, this version of the third features music worthy of leg warmers and spandex.

And it’s not just any ‘70s or ‘80s compilation; it’s boombox approved hits from Madonna, The Who and Foreigner — to name a few.

Although the third disc, a 45-rpm record, does feature characters Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) and his girlfriend Suzie’s (Gabriella Pizzolo) song, “The Never Ending Story,” written by series music editor David Klotz.

Because this soundtrack has so many songs, I will break it up into two parts. Look for the second one next week.

Spoiler alert ahead.

I bought this album at Barnes & Noble, and the cashier asked me if I watched the show. She followed up the rhetorical question, asking me if I thought the character Hopper was dead.

Dominic Mahoney, a senior at Collegiate High School, is currently exploring journalism with me for his capstone project. I asked him the same question.

“He’s definitely not dead,” Mahoney said.

For the record, I agree.

Mahoney listened to this soundtrack with me, and shared his thoughts.

MUSIC

The opening song is a climactic one.

The Who’s “Baba O’Riley,” which released in 1979, is a fist-raising, head-bobbing type of rock ‘n’ roll jam. Mahoney and I thought it was the perfect opening song for the soundtrack, and a good choice for Episode 1.

Our feet started tapping as soon as Howard Jones’ “Things Can Only Get Better” came on. The song sounds quintessentially ‘80s, and the music video is even more indicative of the decade. In it, Jones rocks a neon orange suit and the afro version of a mohawk. If you haven’t seen it, it’s worth a watch — even if you have.

Mahoney is a bass player, so the rhythm of that one appealed to him. Paired with the keyboard and Jones’ falsetto, the song is epic.

Madonna’s “Material Girl” is one of the first I recognized while actually watching the show, probably because the clip was long enough. It played while Eleven shopped for new clothing at the mall, one of my personal favorite scenes.

Who doesn’t love Eleven … or waffles, for that matter?

The song came out in 1984. When I said the song’s name, Mahoney immediately perked up.

“I love that song,” Mahoney said.

He first heard someone sing it at a karaoke night, and I think I must’ve first heard it in a movie. It’s iconic — no other word for it.

The music video, again, wowed us. Madonna wears a Barbie pink gown as men vie for her attention with diamonds. Spoiler alert: Sometimes the poor guy gets the girl.

Foreigner’s “Cold as Ice” came out a little earlier than the rest, in 1977. You can always tell by the hairstyles in the music video.

No one has to persuade me to listen to Foreigner. “Cold as Ice” is a classic comparison and Foreigner is a classic band. I dig that catchy song.

The Pointer Sisters’ “Neutron Dance” has the quickest tempo, set by the drums. We couldn’t remember when it played on the show, but assumed it was during a fast-paced chunk of the plot. We looked it up on TuneFind.com, and we were right.

What’s interesting is the series actually features clips from 20 to 30 songs an episode. It definitely made me wonder why they chose to feature these particular 16 tracks on the vinyl record.

Most people have heard REO Speedwagon’s emotional ballad “Can’t Fight This Feeling.” Because of the passion, Mahoney and I guessed it was featured in the show in a scene with romantic couple Eleven and Mike. We guessed right. It played when Hopper caught them kissing.

“Neutron Dance” might be the fastest, but Wham!’s “Wake Me Up Before You Go Go” is certainly the happiest. In the music video, he jumps around in a way I can only describe as jolly.

"My Bologna” is a parody of the Knack’s hit song “My Sharona,” recorded and performed by musical parody artist “Weird Al” Yankovic on an accordion (1979). He first recorded it in a bathroom.

The song is played in the show when character Joyce shows up at science teacher Scott Clarke’s home.

It makes me laugh that they chose to feature this popular parody. "Saturday Night Live" started in 1975, but I still doubt musical parodies were that popular when it came out. It probably seemed extra innovative at the time. The song is funny. Go look up the lyrics.

Read more about this soundtrack in Part 2 next week.