The third season of Netflix’s hit Stranger Things was made available in its entirety on July 4th and, if social media is any indication, was immediately and enthusiastically binge-watched by a sizeable army of fans worldwide.
Our annual ‘What the UK Streamed’ analyses have previously looked at the different factors that fuel the rediscovery of catalogue tracks. Film and TV undeniably have a big influence on that, with both overlooked gems and top 10 bangers from back in the day getting a new lease of life when used imaginatively. Set in the summer of 1985, Stranger Things 3 – like its previous seasons – mixes an original score with a large number of retro selections. One already-celebrated scene has seen a notable boost for Limahl’s NeverEnding Story – after its use in ST3 its weekly play count on audio streaming services in the UK rose by over 250%, and almost doubled again the week after that. The seven-day stream count of Peter Gabriel’s 2010 cover of David Bowie’s Heroes – used at the emotive end of the series – increased seven-fold in the week of the series’ release.
The effect on the lesser-known tracks is particularly interesting, however. Corey Hart’s Never Surrender, Huey Lewis & The News’ Workin’ For A Livin’ and ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic’s My Bologna – all deep cuts relatively unknown in the UK - were each streamed less than a thousand times in the week before ST3’s release. In the next week, My Bologna’s seven-day play count had risen by almost 100 times, with the other two tracks’ tally that week increasing by 25 times. The weekly streams for all three rose again the week after, presumably as more people finished watching the show along with new fans of the songs hitting the play button again. It will be interesting to see the long-term effect – is this just a relatively brief moment in the sun or the start of a new, permanent shedding of light on these darker corners of catalogue?