If You Were In Stranger Things Season 4, What Songs Would Save You From Vecna?

When does Stranger Things Season 4: Part 2 come out? Today. And we're not ready.

*SPOILER ALERT: This contains spoilers for Stranger Things Season 4: Part 1. So, open another tab, watch it, then come back.*

If Stranger Things will do one thing, it’s resurrect an 80s song and introduce a whole new generation to its wonders.

When the first installment of the Netflix hit show’s fourth season dropped, the stakes were high. Each season has to live up to the last and — with years having passed between the seasons — would anyone even tune in?

But tune in they did. In droves. Suddenly the internet was bombarded with memes about Will’s bob, the rapidly aging teen characters, and … the soundtrack?

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Popdust's Spooktacular Halloween Playlist

Are you tasked with hosting a Halloween party this year? Let us help you with the music.

Howl you doing boys and girls? What's up, my witches?

Spooky season is drawing nearer, and with Halloween falling on a Thursday this year, it means that there is only one weekend to curate a spooktacular party playlist, and one opportunity to throw a fa-boo-lous Halloween party. It is no easy task, but if you want your guests to shake their BOOty, eat, drink, and be scary all night long, Popdust has just the playlist that will give your friends pumpkin' to talk about.

Itsy Bitsy Spider by Carly Simon

Have you ever heard such an elegant and moving interpretation of this spooky nursery rhyme? In this version, I wasn't rooting for the rain to "wash the spider out"; instead, Simon's mash up of the nursery rhyme with her hit "Comin Around Again" paints a darker picture. "I know nothing stays the same, but if you're willing to play the game, it's coming around again," Simon sings. The Spider's journey is a complex one: He is tenacious in his dream of scaling the water spout and is an inspiration to us all. "Nothing stays the same," little Spider, keep climbing. One day, you may just turn your dream into a reality. It's a reminder of our mortality and serves as the perfect song to kick off the night as your guests eat hors d'oeuvres and pour their first cup of spiked punch.

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Lydia Ainsworth Enchants On Her New Album 'Phantom Forest'

On her beautiful new album, Ainsworth both subverts and revives the romanticization of the natural world by presenting her own commentary on its disintegration.

Lydia Ainsworth's third album, Phantom Forest, explores the vanishing natural world and searches for connection within it.

The LA via Toronto singer's newest collection of songs is told from the perspective of herself, mother earth, and a Greek chorus. Inspired by Italian Renaissance Art, Ainsworth both subverts and revives the romanticization of the natural world by presenting her own commentary on its disintegration.

"The Greek Chorus sets the scene, narrating and offering direction on how to enter Phantom Forest," says Ainsworth. "It's my hope that the listener will imagine the narration to be directed to them as well, as they begin the journey of the album."

Ainsworth's use of synthesizers paired with classically-minded arrangements reflects the clash of technology and nature. Yet, instead of pushing a cynical doomsday perspective, Ainsworth welcomes you into her enchanted universe through bubbly hooks and soaring harmonies. Despite the album's heady subject matter, none of the songs ever float too high above the listener's grasp.

Phantom Forest invites the listener onto the mythical dance floor with "Diamonds Cutting Diamonds," where angular arpeggiated synths reminiscent of a harpsichord are punctuated by spacey bass tones and bursts of choral vocals. The bubbly "Can You Find Her Place" is a standout amongst the album's more somber tracks, Ainsworth's vocal riffs weave over and under an upbeat groove, tinged by R&B textures.

Inspired by the Google arts app craze that used facial recognition to show people what classical painting they most resembled, "Tell Me I exist" reckons with the conflation of data and identity, and yearns to unravel the two. "Now it seems anonymity is luxury to own/ I fantasize the private life/ With my DNA's unsigned contracts."

Ainsworth wrote and performed every song on this self-released collection with the exception of her re-imagined cover of Pink Floyd's "Green is the Color" and two other tracks ("The Time," "Give It Back To You"), which started as instrumentals written by Survive's Kyle Dixon (who composed the Stranger Things soundtrack with his bandmate Michael Stein), to which Ainsworth wrote melodies and added lyrics.

Ainsworth punctures a hole in our conception of space on "The Time," where she envisions an eternal world beyond our own. "Through memories, your future self sees through you/ the agony the ecstasy it came too soon." She wades through hazy washes of sound (reminiscent of the eerily transfixing Twin Peaks theme) as she poses the question: "where do we go when we close our eyes––who do we dance within frozen time?"

Though none of the seven songs are no more than 4 minutes long and the album is easy to get through in one sitting, the listening experience is something of a time warp. At times, Ainsworth's intoxicating vocal harmonies entrance and transport the listener, like Odysseus entering the siren's island. But as our conception of time and texture is suspended, Ainsworth grounds her songs by reminding us of the present day's immediate realities. There's a sense of the other-wordly as much as there's an urgent call to pay attention to what's happening around us as we become increasingly entrenched in our devices and negligent of our ravaged earth. Through it all, she urges us to find connection and consider what we will have left when the limits of our reality are pushed towards an apocalyptic future.

Phantom Forest is out now. Listen here.

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Sara is a music and culture writer.

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Kate Bush’s Rocket Man Video is Like if Hillary Clinton Tried to Make a Stoner Anthem

Kate Bush is an incredible musician and "Rocket Man"is an incredible song. So what went wrong?

Kate Bush - Rocket Man - Official Music Video

Kate Bush is a very, very talented musician. "Rocket Man" by Elton John is a very, very good song. So where did Kate Bush's cover go wrong?

It could've slept peacefully in the 1990s, accumulating cobwebs and fading from public consciousness. But today, Bush decided to release the video of her cover officially for the first time—alongside the announcement that an album of her B-sides and rarities, called The Other Side, is coming out on March 8th.

Bush's "Rocket Man" starts out promisingly, with Kate wailing in her singular soprano over dreamy synths, albeit sounding a bit breathier than usual. But disaster strikes about a minute into the video, when the full band leaps in with a disorienting reggae rhythm and Kate steps into the spotlight with a ukulele, hips swaying side to side robotically. The first chorus ends with a flourish on a sitar, a sound effect that's unexpected, to say the least, especially in light of the Uilleann pipes, concertinas, and synths jingling away in the background.

Kate Bush - Rocket Man - Official Music

It's too many genres mixed together, and it fails to capture any of what makes Kate Bush and Elton John so virtuosic. This cover skips all that and instead features a Celtic-sounding fiddle solo three-quarters of the way through, which collides disorientingly with the reggae beat.

The mash-up of styles is an issue, but another problem is that the whole band seems to be having way too much awkward middle-aged fun. Maybe the trouble is that "Rocket Man" is such an emotional song, but Bush seems to be trying to turn it into a stoner anthem—which Young Thug actually did more successfully, with his appropriately spacious "High." That cover is initially disorienting, but it possesses the melancholy expansiveness that makes the original "Rocket Man" so extravagant and blissful to listen to.

Young Thug - High (ft. Elton John) [Official Audio]

Bush's cover feels like convoluted abstract art rather than music. If she's really using reggae and hip-shaking to turn "Rocket Man" into a celebration of marijuana, she's doing it in a way that's almost as cringe-worthy as when Hillary Clinton said that she was "just chillin'."

There are many ways to read "Rocket Man." It's rife with metaphors and cosmic allusions. It could be about getting stoned, sure, but it's almost certainly also about loneliness, life on the road, and the isolation of fame. Bush's cover just ignored all this, it seems. Her first hit was about Wuthering Heights; she can understand words, and she chose to read "Rocket Man" this way.

What a lost opportunity. Imagine "Rocket Man," but with the intensity, elegance, and clarity of vision that defines every track on Hounds of Love, or almost every other track she has released. Certainly, the odd Bush stan will love this cover, but most music fans will question its existence—instead of questioning their existence, which is what anyone who listens to "Rocket Man" should do.

Elton John - Rocket Man (Official Music Video)

There are a few shining exceptions. The image of Bush conducting a symphony of planets and fireworks is aesthetically gorgeous, and the few moments where she does unleash a flood of reverb and harmonies (at the very ends of the choruses) hint at what could have been, and why it became a No. 12 hit in 1991. But for the most part, listeners will be stuck feeling deeply uncomfortable.

Eden Arielle Gordon is a writer and musician from New York. Follow her on Twitter at @edenarielmusic.

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