From Kate Bush to Metallica, Stranger Things is taking control of your playlist

You could make the case that hugely popular Netflix series Stranger Things is the biggest tastemaker in music right now.

Just a few weeks after propelling Kate Bush’s 1985 hit Running Up That Hill to the top of the charts, the show is now turning a new generation of fans on to Metallica.

The heavy metal band’s 1986 song Master of Puppets, from the album of the same name, has been climbing Spotify’s Top 50 Global playlist since featuring in a pivotal scene in the show’s season four finale this past weekend. (Spoiler alert for the video below!)

It’s currently the 14th most popular song streamed on the platform, one place behind Lizzo’s About Damn Time (and yes, Running Up That Hill is still tracking at number one). The song is also number 38 on Apple Music’s Global Top 100.

This success on streaming platforms is expected to lift the single into the UK Top 40 (as of yesterday it was placed at 58 and rapidly rising), as well as the US Hot 100. And, as the song is currently number 14 on Spotify’s Top 50 Australia list, it will likely make an appearance on next week’s ARIA Top 50 Singles chart too.

After Kate Bush’s similarly meteoric rise last month, this might not seem so surprising. But if Master of Puppets does climb the charts in a similar way it would be particularly extraordinary.

Though the song is widely regarded as one of Metallica’s best, unlike Bush’s resurging viral hit, this blistering eight-minute epic actually never made the Hot 100 when it was first released.

While this success is obviously down to the show itself – Master of Puppets is performed by a major character in a particularly dramatic and high-stakes moment – it’s been helped along by some clever marketing too.

Last week, before the last instalment of Stranger Things dropped, Netflix released an “Upside Down Playlist” on Spotify featuring iconic ’80s tracks from the series set among a personalised and rotating selection of each users’ favourite songs.

Posts on the series’ social media accounts encouraged fans find their “saviour song” in the playlist and discover “what songs would save YOU from Vecna” (both of which are references to plot points in the show).

Master of Puppets features heavily on the daily rotation in this playlist, meaning many new fans have been listening to the track without ever actively seeking it out.

Metallica is understandably “beyond psyched” to have been included in the hit series.

In a post on their Instagram, the band praised the show’s creators for how music has been included in the show and said they were “blown away” by the way their song was used.

Metalhead Eddie Munson (Joe Quinn) performs Metallica’s iconic track at a particularly dramatic moment in the Stranger Things season finale. Credit:Netflix/Supplied

The band has also made a point of welcoming new fans who have discovered their music through the show.

“FYI everyone is welcome in the Metallica Family,” they wrote in a comment on TikTok. “Whether you’ve been a fan for 40 hours or 40 years, we all share a bond through music.

“All of you started at ground zero at one point in time.”

The statements are being celebrated by many as a strong stand against gatekeeping; a reaction against rusted-on fans who feel like young people have to prove their credentials to engage with particular kinds of music.

And, it’s true, Metallica’s statements will go a long way to helping new fans feel welcome. But it would also be wildly against the band’s best interests to say anything otherwise. Since Running Up That Hill was featured on Stranger Things, Kate Bush has made an estimated $3.3 million in streaming revenue.

If this trend continues, musicians from all genres and eras will be falling over themselves to be featured on Netflix’s next hit.

Find out the next TV, streaming series and movies to add to your must-sees. Get The Watchlist delivered every Thursday.

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