Stranger Things season 4 was so damn good. The show felt bigger and better than anything the show had done before. The stakes felt higher, and characters were utilized well, given compelling story arcs. This season's main villain, Vecna, was actually terrifying — reinvigorating the show's horror origins. Even the music felt more grandiose, hitting us with a wave of 80s pop classics, Stadium Rock, and even metal. I am going to say it, this is the best season of Stranger Things since its debut.
Now, as you probably guessed, this is not a review of the season, though I do have plenty to say. Like, the Russian-Hopper timeline went on a little too long, and why did you have to kill off my boy Eddie? But I digress. We are here to talk about music and Vecna. Episode 4, "Dear Billy" of this season, gave us a pop culture moment that has become viral — quickly emerging for many as one of their favorite scenes in the series.
During the episode, Nancy and Robin learn that music is the only thing that can save people from Vecna's wrath. This bit of information proves useful as the gang is able to fend of the upside down demon and save Max using her favorite song Kate Bush's 1985 hit "Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God)."
Thankfully Vecna is not real. But the question, "what song would save you from Vecna?" has permeated the internet, and it's got me thinking, what music would save me from Vecna?
Today we are going to look at some music, both old and new, that I think would protect me from Vecna's clutches and prevent me from getting folded like a pretzel.
These feel-good songs would definitely save my ass from Vecna.
Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God) - Kate Bush
It's only fitting that I start off with the song that inspired this list. Since airing on Stranger Things, the track has gone on to become the unofficial theme song of season 4, inspiring a host of memes and tik-toks. Amid the new wave of interest, Bush's iconic song has even smashed a few records on the Billboard charts.
I totally get why this is Max's go-to song. The stadium-sized rolling drums, oddly catchy synths, and Bush's beautifully performed lyrics create a song that is both redemptive and uplifting. Listening to Running Up That Hill, I can't help but feel like I have accomplished something or am about to. Perhaps it's the fact that the track is now forever tied to one of my favorite TV shows of all time? But, Running Up That Hill is now easily one of my favorite feel-good songs of 2022.
Gët Busy - Yeat
If you've been sleeping on Yeat, you're missing out. The Portland balaclava-wearing rapper has quickly emerged as the new leader of what's known as the SoundCloud 2.0 wave — a new underground scene that includes the likes of SoFaygo, Ken Car$on, Ka$hdami, and SSGKobe. Yeat very much stands in his own lane, with his synthy but atmospheric tracks. Bro has even got a track on the new Minions soundtrack.
There are a lot of tracks that I have gone on to love from Yeat's discography, but Get Busy stands on its own. It's catchy as hell. Also, I am pretty that bell drop on the beat at 1:33 has the power to end Vecna. When you catch the vibe of this song, it's hard as hell to be in a bad mood.
Neon Peach (feat Tyler, The Creator) - Snoh Aalegra
When this track starts to play, it's very hard not to dance and break out into a two-step like I am at a wedding in the 90s (yes, I am that old). Snoh Aalegra vocal performance is airy and timeless, perfect for the mid-90s R&B-inspired beat. Then Tyler Creator comes along and does this thing with his raspy but charismatic voice, delivering some of the best bars since Call Me If You Get Lost. How can Vecna fold me into a pretzel if I am dancing my way out of the upside down?
Less Than Zero - The Weeknd
Dawn FM still might hold the title for best album of 2022. The Weeknd's 5th studio album is filled to the brim with a hodgepodge of influences like 80s pop, disco, EDM, and 90s City Pop across its almost flawless production. The Weeknd's immersive storytelling and artful songwriting have made this album an instant classic.
Any of these tracks can go toe to toe with Vecna at his prime, but "Less Than Zero" is my strongest contender. The bookend to the album, the feel-good song, proudly wears its City Pop influences as The Weeknd uses this moment on the album as a mature form of catharsis after a seemingly positive relationship comes to an end.
Dreamin of The Past (feat. Kanye West) - Pusha T
Pusha T almost ended Drake's career, you think I'm going to feel threatened by Vecna? Fresh off of It's Almost Dry, "Dreamin of the Past" is another Pusha T - Ye masterpiece with God-level production (Do you hear that Donny Hathaway sample?) and luxurious coke-fuelled bars. It's not only one of the strongest tracks on It's Almost Dry, it is one of the best songs in Pusha T's already immaculate discography.
Eternal Sunshine - Lou Val
This song feels like summertime in the city. The mellow, spacey, and warm track by the Toronto R&B singer has been on constant repeat this past summer. It's the type of track you can put on at the bbq with friends and family or zone out with a tight joint during a chill summer night. Eternal Sunshine holds power as it's that rare type of song that you will attach memories to as it becomes the soundtrack to your summer adventures.
Jaguar - Action Bronson
This track would be a seven-course meal at Osteria Francescana if Osteria Francescana had a pop-up on Dyckman. It's Bronson at his best — it's bombastic, visceral, confident, and witty, with a healthy mix of quotables. This all sits on top of Loleatta Holloway's beautifully sampled voice. This song feels victorious, almost like I just conquered something or won a great battle. Good luck trying to knock me out while this is playing.
Jimmy Cooks (feat. 21 Savage)
Here lies the only good song off of Drake's latest album, Honestly, Nevermind. If you can look me in the eye and deadass tell me that this album is good, or "Drake is just taking a risk…blah blah", we don't need to be talking about music. Kanye has been out here taking risks, and it led to cultural moments like 808 and Heartbreak and Yeezus. But, I digress. Drake talks his shit, and 21 comes in with the assist, giving us a savage group of bars that I'm sure would send chills down Vecna's spine.
Rich Spirit - Kendrick Lamar
There are people who like Drake's new album but think Kendrick Lamar's Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers is mid. That's fine. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. It just so happens that your opinion is trash. One of Kendrick's most introspective albums, the Compton MC directly confronts his role in hip hop, begging the audience to humanize him (rather than hail him as some rap savior) while tackling the current social climate and his own demons.
A fan favorite, Rich Spirit, is an ethereal LA track featuring an irreverent Kendrick Lamar. The song bumps with Lamar talking shit, praising his own favorite qualities while also exploring narcissism. I also like the idea of reciting "Stop playin' with me 'fore I turn you to a song" to Vecna.
BREAK MY SOUL - Beyoncè
Beyoncé's latest single is a banger. I didn't know what to expect from Queen B after her latest album, but this definitely was not it. Break My Soul is a happy and uplifting surprise deeply rooted black dance and house music scene from the late 80s and 90s. Oh, and I absolutely love the inclusion/twist of Big Freedia's iconic NOLA bounce. I will be voguing to this track for a very, very long time.
Solo Dolo, Pt. III - Kid Cudi
It's a bit predictable, but we all know that Kid Cudi's humming could save me from just about anything. But I would expect nothing less from the intergalactic superhero. There are a lot of songs that could save me from the deepest depths of the upside down. However, I think Solo Dolo Pt III is Kid Cudi at his best, most mature, and confident. The track feels like a trip through space and time at a steady pace, thanks to Cudi's beautifully harmonized voice. The song is strangely calming.
DIVE IN! - JELEEL!
Vecna might as well give up if I am bumping anything from JELEEL!. I mean, the Stranger Things Season 4 villain can try, but I promise he won't get far. JELEEL! is what I imagine would happen if a super sayain started making music. The rapper, singer, and producer's energy is contagious. His voice is at the center of it all, switching easily between melodic to abrasive catchy on DIVE IN! I expect big things from the new talent. This is one of the easiest picks for my list.
Power - Kanye West
Yes, I am a Kanye stan. So, there are a lot of tracks that could have easily made this list. Nevertheless, Power is Kanye's most empowering song. It's hard to articulate, but it shares a lot of similarities to Kate Bush's Running Up That Hill. It's massic in size, designed for stadiums big enough to support Ye's ego. All jokes aside, it's Kanye's most triumphant moment in his career, a "return of the King-esque event" after the debacle with Taylor Swift. There is a reason why this song keeps popping up in movie trailers. It is hard to listen to this and not feel larger than life.
Sky - Playboi Carti
Whole Lotta Red has got a lot of gems on it, but Sky just feels just so damn good no matter when or where I play it. It's one of those songs that, when you hear it on the radio or out partying, it makes you want to turn up. There is not much I can say about this other than listen to it. It's very hard to have a bad time bumping this.
Speaking of Playboi Carti, check out our cover story on the vamp rapper.