Emmys: ‘Stranger Things’ Music Supervisor on the Need for ‘Heroes’

Noah Schnapp in Netflix’s <em>Stranger Things</em>. (Photo: Netflix)
Noah Schnapp in Netflix’s Stranger Things. (Photo: Netflix)

As we enter Emmy season — nomination voting runs June 12 to June 26 — Yahoo TV will be spotlighting performances and other contributions that we feel deserve recognition.

This year, Outstanding Music Supervision makes its long-awaited debut as an Emmy category. In honor of the milestone, Yahoo TV asked music supervisors for some of our favorite series to answer the same set of questions about their work this season — and to name a past show they believe would have been recognized had this category existed sooner.

We continue with Nora Felder, music supervisor on Netflix’s Stranger Things.

1. What song/placement are you proudest of this season?

Honestly, I know I can say this on behalf of the entire production team, but we are so proud of the music as a whole for many varied reasons. Would be too hard to pick just one. From the welcomed repetition of “Should I Stay Or Should I Go” perfectly serving every aspect of the plotline and characters to the simple subliminal messages in the quietest moments, as with the indie classic Trader Horn’s “Jennie May” in the coffee shop fan scene in the first episode with Eleven. I love them all.

David Harbour as Jim Hopper in Netflix’s <i>Stranger Things</i>. (Screengrab: Netflix)
David Harbour as Jim Hopper in Netflix’s Stranger Things. (Screengrab: Netflix)

2. What was the most challenging scene/moment for you this season creatively?

For a time period we weren’t sure if Peter Gabriel’s cover of David Bowie’s iconic song “Heroes” was going to be approved for use. This version ever so uniquely expressed what was necessary for this delicate scene. We tried many, many songs and although quite a few worked well, none of them seemed to accent the emotion behind this key plot point in that same precious sense. Definitely because of the wonderful combination of Mr. Gabriel’s touching and quite unique rendition of this song. When Bowie’s camp approved the use, we were honored and frankly touched due to the circumstances. Also, Mr. Gabriel was quite pleased with the use, which makes this extra special for us!

3. Was there a song swap that worked out even better than your original idea?

Part of my process (and hopefully that of any really serious, passionate music supervisor) is to constantly try and outdo any previous choice. It always haunts me deep into the night. Might there be anything else that [would have] helped accent the story in another amazing way? So I’m constantly experimenting with ideas. Once final decisions were made, we were actually very fortunate to be able to procure every song that we intended, which can be challenging with big artists for a first-season show sometimes.

4. What’s the song that isn’t the theme song of the show that you think would make the perfect theme song for the show?

As I know many of the show’s music fans will agree, with the amazing theme song created by our composers Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein, I really can’t imagine anything else at this point. That said, I do have a dream song in mind, that I feel encompasses an overall message that captures the essence of the show as a whole and could make a perfect end closer. But I’m hoping we can use it in the show one day in some capacity, so my lips are sealed. You’d have to drag it out of me.

5. Name a past show that you think would have been recognized for its music supervision had the Emmy category existed.

[There are] so many countless shows spanning the history of television where music served as a key character to the story, but right off the bat [what came to mind was] the fairly recent Breaking Bad.

Netflix’s <i>Stranger Things</i>. (Screengrab: Netflix)
Netflix’s Stranger Things. (Screengrab: Netflix)

6. What’s the song you never thought you’d get the rights to this season but you did (and how did you do it)?

Peter Gabriel’s amazing version of David Bowie’s composition “Heroes.” Mr. Bowie’s sad passing, which affected so many of us, occurred while we were working on the project, so considering the circumstances, it was not an automatic yes. With the help of the wonderful music team at Netflix and the show’s producers, we were able to come together to strategize what would be the most respectful way to handle this. We are forever grateful to Mr. Bowie’s camp for granting us use for this wonderful moment.

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