When Stranger Things finally returned to our screens for its fourth season back in May, nobody could have anticipated the huge cultural impact that it’d have.
While the Netflix hit was already established for delivering epic sci-fi special effects served with a healthy slab of ’80s nostalgia, its huge popularity hadn’t yet affected the music industry.
But that all changed with the fourth episode of Season 4, which single-handedly revived Kate Bush’s 1985 single “Running Up That Hill” to the top of the charts.
Almost 40 years after its initial release, the ’80s classic got a new lease on life after it featured in a key scene that saw Max (Sadie Sink) desperately trying to escape Vecna's clutches.
Max’s friends played her favorite song to try and lure her back to the real world, and Sadie delivered an impressive performance as she battled the monster while Kate’s whimsical vocals served as the soundtrack.
The scene has easily secured a spot as one of the best music moments in TV history, and it turned out that there was plenty more where that came from as the remaining episodes of Stranger Things played out.
It was the Season 4 finale that provided us with another “Running Up That Hill” moment, with Metallica’s 1986 song “Master of Puppets” taking center stage during the episode’s climactic moment.
In the scene, fan favorite Eddie Munson (played by Joseph Quinn) rocks out to a version of the metal classic with his electric guitar while trying to create a diversion in the Upside Down.
It is a pivotal moment in the series, and the popularity of the new character combined with his epic performance of the 36-year-old song saw Metallica climb to the top of the charts.
In fact, Spotify reported that “Masters of Puppets” was downloaded 17.5 million times in the week after the episode was released, and it quickly hit No. 1 in the US iTunes rock chart.
And Metallica themselves have given the scene their seal of approval, saying that they were “blown away” by the use of their song.
“The way The Duffer Brothers have incorporated music into Stranger Things has always been next level, so we were beyond psyched for them to not only include ‘Master Of Puppets’ in the show but to have such a pivotal scene built around it,” they wrote on social media at the time.
“We were all stoked to see the final result and when we did we were totally blown away... It’s so extremely well done, so much so, that some folks were able to guess the song just by seeing a few seconds of Joseph Quinn’s hands in the trailer!! How crazy cool is that?” they added. “It’s an incredible honor to be such a big part of Eddie’s journey and to once again be keeping company with all of the other amazing artists featured in the show.”
Further cementing their excitement, Metallica duetted a TikTok video of the scene with a video of themselves performing the song while wearing Hellfire Club T-shirts from the show.
And as if that weren’t enough, Metallica’s bassist, Robert Trujillo, confirmed that his son Tye had tracked extra guitar parts for the version of the song used in Stranger Things.
But despite the rockers’ obvious involvement in Netflix picking up their song, some of Metallica’s more long-standing fans have been left unimpressed by the band’s sudden surge in popularity.
“Sorry for being elitist, but I can't stand that Stranger Things used that one song and now everyone acts like they're a big fan,” one person tweeted. “I’ve listened to Metallica for like 9 years, and none of you fake bandwagon FRICKERS had even heard of them back then.”
Another wrote: “The fact that Metallica [are] becoming mainstream in 2022 because of an episode of Stranger Things is making my suppressed teen angst rage HARD.”
Others went so far as to share their thoughts directly with the band by commenting on their TikTok posts. One person said: “I’m sorry Metallica for all the fake Stranger Things fans.”
But the group were prepared with the perfect response, writing in response: “Don’t be sorry. Everyone is welcome in the Metallica family. If they like ‘Puppets,’ chances are they’ll find plenty of other songs to get into.”
And the comment was one of many that Metallica had received, as the band eventually pinned a comment to a TikTok video that defended its newer fans.
“FYI - EVERYONE is welcome in the Metallica Family,” they reiterated. “Whether you’ve been a fan for 40 hours or 40 years, we all share a bond through music.”
They then pointed out: “All of you started at ground zero at one point in time. 🤘🏻”
Metallica were instantly applauded for their healthy attitude toward welcoming new listeners off the back of Stranger Things, and it ended up sparking a conversation about people trying to “gatekeep” music.
Many pointed out that it was actually an honor to introduce metal music to a new audience, especially the younger generation.
“Metallica said EVERYONE IS WELCOME,” one fan wrote in a comment that was liked by the band. “Stop gatekeeping and embrace the new fans, embrace the youngins finding their footing in this genre. 🖤✨🤘🏼”
Over on Twitter, another wrote: “If you’re upset that Stranger Things is introducing more people to Metallica, and attempt to gatekeep. You’re what’s wrong with music culture.”
Someone else pointed out that discovering the band through the TV show was no different than being introduced to it by older family members.
“I was raised on Metallica. Imagine my dad gate keeping it from me??? But no, he passed on his love for their music just as I’m now doing with my kids,” they wrote.
One more added: “See, not even Metallica is gatekeeping Metallica. 🎸🤘🏻”
Others reflected on the fact that this was a similar reaction to “Running Up That Hill” returning to radio, which included some scathing comments from filmmaker Taika Waititi.
Taika recently told NME that he felt as though Stranger Things had “ruined” Kate Bush, adding that he was “really annoyed” about her song being used in the show.
“I’ve become one of those old arseholes who’s like: ‘These kids never listened to Kate Bush; they’ve heard one song on a TV show!” he explained at the time. “They don’t know Kate Bush! I know Kate Bush!’”
“If you gatekeep the younger generations for getting into Kate Bush and Metallica through Stranger Things you are my enemy,” one tweet read. “Get a goddamn life and leave the kids alone, let them discover and enjoy the classics regardless of the means to which they find it.”
Someone else actively welcomed new listeners to their fandom as they shared: “To Stranger Things fans: Welcome to Kate Bush. We older folk have known about her for years, and now it's your time as well.”
Another person echoed: “One of the best outcomes about Stranger Things is that there are a *bunch* of people discovering Kate Bush for the first time. And I mean yes, they really should have known about Kate Bush beforehand but this is still a good thing.”
Others pointed out that Metallica and Kate Bush were already very well-known artists with 21 Grammy nominations between them before Stranger Things, so them finding new fans isn’t exactly anything new.
“Stranger Things has y’all trying to gatekeep Kate Bush and that is embarrassing. babe it’s KATE BUSH. you discovered nothing,” one person wrote.
“The ‘hardcore’ metal community prior to Stranger Things: ‘I don't listen to Metallica because they're too mainstream,’” another tweeted. “The same people after Stranger Things: ‘DAMNIT NOW METALLICA IS MAINSTREAM.’”
“Toxic metalheads acting like Metallica was never mainstream before Stranger Things,” a third person added. One more sarcastically joked: “Gosh, I just turned on Stranger Things, and I think that this little-known artist ‘Kate Bush’ was really onto something. So nice of the producers to give her music a shot.”
Similarly to Metallica, Kate Bush showed her appreciation for Stranger Things breathing a “new lease of life” into her decades-old song in a rare statement that was posted on her website.
"You might've heard that the first part of the fantastic, gripping new series of Stranger Things has recently been released on Netflix,” she wrote. “It features the song, 'Running Up That Hill' which is being given a whole new lease of life by the young fans who love the show — I love it too!”
“Because of this, 'Running Up That Hill' is charting around the world and has entered the UK chart at No. 8. It's all really exciting!” Bush went on. “Thanks very much to everyone who has supported the song. I wait with bated breath for the rest of the series in July."