Stranger Things Just Got A Legendary Song On Billboard Charts For First Time
Stranger Thing keeps the musical gravy train rolling by propelling a legendary song onto the Billboard Charts for the first time.
Stranger Things has been praised (and criticized) for its liberal use of cultural markers like Steven Spielberg movies, H.P. Lovecraft imagery, and 1980s bowl cuts. The fourth season of the hit Netflix show also began plumbing 1980s music for thematic effect, to shockingly positive gains for the artists in question. The show already made Kate Bush millions of dollars in royalties for its repeated use of her 1985 hit “Running Up That Hill,” but it doesn’t end there. It turns out that Stranger Things managed to propel the 1986 Metallica song “Master of Puppets” onto the Billboard charts for the first time ever.
Per Pitchfork, after Stranger Things used Metallica’s song in the fourth season finale “The Piggyback,” it shot onto the Billboard Hot 100 for the first time since it was released. Similar to the spectacular resurgence of popularity and awareness enjoyed by Kate Bush, Stranger Things gave Metallica that ol’ Netflix bump. Reportedly, some fans immediately began a backlash against the usage of the song, using the traditional “only real fans” gatekeeping technique. However, the Stranger Things usage of the song was swiftly and emphatically defended by the member of Metallica themselves, who said they were “blown away” by the scene in the finale. Metallica even issued a public statement thanking Stranger Things creators Matt and Ross Duffer for using their song and being part of the show.
“Master of Puppets” was used by Stranger Things in a climactic scene, in which season four breakout star Eddie Munson (played by Doja Cat thirst-trap Joseph Quinn) plays the riff while in the Upside Down to attract Demobats. That is quite a few made-up words, but if you picture a 1980s metalhead playing one of the most kickass riffs ever in a burnt ghost realm why bat-monsters attack him, you probably get the basic idea. While Joseph Quinn mimed the song in the show, it was actually performed by Tye Trujillo, son of Metallica bassist Robert Trujillo. While Stranger Things was initially noted for its original score by Michael Stein and Kyle Dixon (itself highly referential to director/musician John Carpenter’s legendary scores), the show has increasingly used songs by Joy Division, Echo and the Bunnymen, Peter Gabriel, and now, Metallica.
Previous to its chart-climbing usage via Stranger Things, “Master of Puppets” was well-known to Metallica fans as the title track of their third album. It is the most-played live song in the band’s catalog, and reportedly a favorite of deceased original Cliff Burton (who co-wrote the song). It has frequently been highly ranked by music publications and fans as one of the greatest guitar riffs and/or solos of all time. While Stranger Things pointedly used the song as a thematic reference to the season four villain Vecna’s ability to control others, Metallica lead singer/guitarist James Hetfield has said the song deals “pretty much with drugs.”
We will have to wait and see if Stranger Things season five has any more Metallica or Kate Bush songs, but if not, Netflix already gave them a pretty huge boost.