How The Clash Became an Integral Part of the ‘Stranger Things’ Musical Emmy Nomination

The use of The Clash’s 1982 hit single, “Should I Stay or Should I Go,” in “Stranger Things” is a great example of why there’s a new Emmy category this season honoring the creativity of the music supervisor. The Duffer Brothers inserted the song into their ’80s sci-fi script to emotionally connect the Indiana family that’s separated by the Upside Down dimension. However, if Emmy-nominated music supervisor Nora Felder hadn’t convinced The Clash of its importance, the Duffers would’ve had to find a replacement.

Fortunately, the “Stranger Things” showrunners (Matt and Ross Duffer) were never aware there was even a problem obtaining the licensing rights. “It was my job to protect them,” said Felder Thursday night during a Q&A panel discussion. “They were worried about trivializing the song and needed to see how it was going to be used in scenes, and for the first time I put my English lit background to use,” she added.

Convincing The Clash

Felder convincingly offered a series of brief descriptions describing why the song was meaningful to Will (Noah Schnapp), and how he used it to communicate with his mother Joyce (Winona Ryder) when he’s trapped in the Upside Down. Felder used the same method in acquiring the rights to other iconic ’80s songs (including “Go Nowhere” by Reagan Youth, “Deck the Halls” by Chicks with Hits, and “Raise a Little Hell” by Trooper).

“Stranger Things”

But, of course, “Should I Stay or Should I Go” stands out as a thematic thread throughout Felder’s Emmy-nominated episode, “Chapter Two: The Weirdo on Maple Street,” which continues the search for Will while developing the relationship with El (Millie Bobby Brown), the mysterious girl with psychokinetic powers.

Will’s older brother, Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) hears the song on his car radio, and there’s a flashback where he introduces Will to the song to drown out their screaming parents fighting offscreen. Jonathan tells Will it’s going to “totally change your life,” which it does in unsuspecting ways.

The Life Changing “Should I Stay or Should I Go”

A song about breakup, The Clash anthem takes on different emotional meaning in “Stranger Things”: “Should I stay or should I go now?/Should I stay or should I go now?/If I go, there will be trouble/And if I stay it will be double/So come on and let me know…”

Toward the end of the episode the song takes on greater importance. Joyce receives another call from Will. But she can’t speak to him and becomes frightened by flickering lights. Then she hears the song coming from Will’s room. She investigates and gets her first glimpse of the monster from the Upside Down coming through the wall. She runs out of the house, gets in the car, and hears the song again on the radio. Yet, instead of driving off, the song helps her summon the strength to return to the house.

Shannon Purser as Barb, "Stranger Things"

“Stranger Things”


Throughout the season, “Should I Stay or Should I Go” becomes a way of calming Will when he sings it in the Upside Down, and a way of reminding Joyce and Jonathan that he’s still alive, lifting their spirits as well.

Felder almost didn’t take the “Stranger Things” gig. She was too busy supervising several other shows, including “Ray Donovan” and “The OA.” But when nominated editor Kevin Ross tried to recruit her (they worked together on “Californication”), he told her that she’d only have to license one or two songs an episode. “It’s a good thing he lied to me,” Felder said.

The other nominees for music supervision include Thomas Golubic (“Better Call Saul” — “Sunk Costs”), Susan Jacobs (“Big Little Lies” — “You Get What You Need”), Manish Raval, Jonathan Leahy, Tom Wolfe (“Girls”— “Goodbye Tour”), and Zach Cowie, Kerri Drootin (“Master of None” — “Amarsi Un Po”).

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NEWS: “We Replaced You”

Charlottesville counter protest, organized with social media blackout to protect participants, retraced the path white supremacists demonstrators took on campus, bearing candles instead of torches. 

Image by Casey Kilmartin, h/t Bethany Nowviskie on Twitter.

Filed under: See Tags Tagged: #adphd, african american, civil war, history, memory, news, social justice, united states

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Woman, don’t conspire against yourself


I am sitting on his couch surrounded by books. There are books everywhere in his house; under the tables, by the coat rack, all over the stair case, on the window panes. If there are two things I love, it is men and books and here I am basking in the divine combination of both. He is as romantic as I am. As independent as I am. As vulnerable as I am. We spend our days talking about philosophy, poetry, African gods and debating gender politics. I feel like the pan-African Simone de Beauvoir and he is my equivalent Jean-Paul Sartre. At daytime, while I work, he cooks and feeds both my mind and my stomach with delicious food. While he works at night, I go to bed but I don’t fall asleep until his body is next to mine, heavy and warm.

We argue a lot and break each others’ hearts. He never believed that I loved him. I come to learn that many men don’t believe that women truly love them. And maybe they’re right. We love “Love” more than anything. The patriarchal system conditions us that way. But I did love him. I loved him the way one loves the ocean, automatically and playfully until its waves crash on your skin. So anyway, I remember sitting on his couch thinking that I love him so much that should he leave me – I will never find someone with whom I feel as complete again.

I was wrong. I would find again. I would feel complete again. I would question my choices again. But most importantly, I would learn that what I thought was a man completing me, was mostly me conspiring against myself; thinking I needed male validation. The completion I perceived in men was actually the wholeness I wanted in myself. I was attracted to the things that I missed in myself, confidence, freedom, entitlement. I did not only want to be close to my lovers, I wanted to be them.

Then I realised that while men are conditioned to be entitled, they are also conditioned to be dishonest to both themselves and others. I’m not saying that all men are dishonest, and certainly not that they are dishonest by default, but it is rare for men to have integrity because they are taught from an early age that it’s masculine to manipulate their own and others’ emotions. With that realisation, I gradually and effortlessly started to feel as entitled as any man. I have become patriarchal society’s archenemy – a woman who feels as entitled as a man but who is honest in the way only a woman can be.

A couple of years ago, I started an ongoing Twitter thread that I refer to as the “Woman-series”. The tweets, and the title of this blog, are inspired by a song called “Woman” by Susheela Raman. In the song, Raman sings, “Woman, […] The roles you learned to play / Conspire against you / And hold you down / Why don’t you fight?”. The tweets in the thread in fact all of my work – is so much characterised in that one line. I strive to be of service in a way that inspires women to resist the limiting roles that conspire against them.

Life is a gift and a temporary one at that. If there is one way of saying thank you to life, it is to ask – Am I conspiring against myself? (Am I being unappreciative of the gift that life is?) To answer this question, you will need to develop a meditative state of mind. If not through actual meditation, which I would encourage, then through walks in nature, dance, swimming, anything that calms your mind so that your subconscious can speak to you. Then mull over questions such as: Am I doing work that fulfils me? Am I growing in my relationships? Do my friends inspire and encourage me? Do my actions match my words? Am I eating well and looking after my health? Do I live where I want to? Are my thoughts self destructive? Do I maybe prefer women to men? Am I enjoying sex or am I too busy performing to truly enjoy it? Am. I. Conspiring. Against. Myself?

Women of African heritage should especially try to engage in such practice because the world is already conspiring against us in so many intersectional and interconnected ways that the last thing we should be doing is conspiring against ourselves too. But please approach it gently, with tenderness toward yourself, you are getting to know yourself, not judging yourself . I’m reminded of an East African saying I came across, “A butterfly who brushes against thorns will tear its wings”.

I’m still no role model for relationships, for the record. I am too romantic. Too naive. Too doting. But I’m also too detached. “My heart has grown rich with the passing of years […], it is one to me they come and go” as Sara Teasdale writes in a poem on solitude. Last but not least, I am too uncompromisingly feminist. I don’t accommodate for any kind of sexism-lite or Diet Sexism in my love life. As I wrote in my piece on conscientious feminism, “I will live but that is all I will do for patriarchy”.

Imagine, if you will, a little girl playing in a sandbox. She is building castles and burying her feet in the sand when a little boy appears at the playground. Imagine her joy. She was having fun alone but, oh look, here is this little boy to play with! If I’ve decided that I have time and energy for a relationship, then I am like that. I welcome my “playbuddy” with joy and rapture. But if he dismantles my castle, tries to take control of the sandbox and starts sandsplaining how I built it the wrong way to start with. Then I am happy to let go.

My sandbox is no ordinary sandbox, you see. It is the small but significant plot of land that I received as a gift from wherever the essence of life is made. The grains are made of gold and the stones of amber. Outside of my sandbox, do what you like, but in here I only want aligned energy.

I’m sharing all this to say, perhaps clumsily, try not to harden to life, see its magic, but seek a solid and firm place from where, whenever it is within your control, you do not give anyone or anything permission to conspire against you and tear down your castles. Especially not you yourself.

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NEWS: Baltimore Removes Confederate Statues in Overnight Operation

Baltimore Removes Confederate Statues in Overnight Operation

Photo from a tweet by Baynard Woods, Baltimore City Paper editor-at-large

Beginning soon after midnight on Wednesday, a crew, which included a large crane and a contingent of police officers, began making rounds of the city’s parks and public squares, tearing the monuments from their pedestals and carting them out of town…”

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Filed under: See Tags Tagged: #adphd, african american, civil war, history, memory, news, slavery, united states

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NEWS/DIGITAL: The Disturbing History Of Confederate Monuments, In A Single Image

“Symbols of the Confederacy have retained their ugly power for 150 years, and the number of monuments has actually increased at crucial moments in recent American history. An infographic from the Southern Poverty Law Centermaps out Confederate iconography, including monuments and names of schools, from the end of the Civil War in 1861 to 2016–revealing that the increase in tributes to the Confederacy mirrors important moments in civil rights…”

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Filed under: See Tags Tagged: #adphd, african american, civil war, digital, history, memory, united states

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