First Kate Bush, now Metallica. “Master of Puppets” is climbing the charts thanks to Stranger Things!
The final two episodes of Stranger Things 4 hit this past weekend, and in addition to monster-hunting mayhem, we also got the most metal concert ever. As part of the Hawkins gang’s elaborate plan to kill the murderous Vecna, metalhead D&D master Eddie Munson (Joseph Quinn) whips out his trusty guitar in the Upside Down and cranks his amp up to eleven in order to lure a swarm of Demobats away from the Creel House. The song Eddie plays is “Master of Puppets” by Metallica, the title track off the band’s 1986 album and one of the most iconic metal songs of all time.
Just like when the show featured Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)” in Volume 1, the use of “Master of Puppets” has propelled the song up various music charts and introduced it to a whole new generation of fans. As of this writing, “Master of Puppets” is sitting at number one on the iTunes rock charts and number 29 across all of iTunes. Over on Spotify, the song has climbed to number 15 in the USA Top 50 and 12 in the UK Spotify charts, per The Wrap. Meanwhile, Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” is still in the number one spot in that same USA Top 50 Spotify chart, more than a month after the premiere of Stranger Things 4 Volume 1.
The power of Stranger Things cannot be understated. The show is doing a public service, really.
Metallica reacts to “Master of Puppets” in Stranger Things
As you might guess, Metallica is pretty happy about the way their song was used in the show. The band posted to Instagram over the weekend to share their thoughts about how their music was utilized in Stranger Things, and had nothing but good things to say.
“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,” the band wrote. “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?”
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.
As it turns out, Metallica was involved on a few different levels. Aside from just the use of their music in the show, Tye Trujillo, the son of Metallica bassist Rob Trujillo, actually played the additional guitar parts for the song that were mixed with the 1986 studio track in the show. Rob Trujillo posted to Instagram after the finale’s release to congratulate his son on the epic shredding, and also credit Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett with helping Tye out with some of the parts. Keeping it in the family!
Stranger Things music supervisor talks using “Master of Puppets”
Stranger Things has always had a pretty robust soundtrack, featuring musical nods to classic sci-fi and horror films of the time as well as many ’80s hits. Despite having plenty of songs to choose from, however, Stranger Things music supervisor Nora Felder says that Eddie’s Upside Down shred fest was built specifically around “Master of Puppets.”
“It was another one of those ‘it has to be this song,’ moments,” Felder told Variety. “This part of the story was anticipated to be a pivotal and especially hair-raising scene in which Eddie heroically stood tall for the fight of his life. I believe the Duffer Brothers felt that playing ‘Master of Puppets’ throughout the extended scene was the clear choice. No other song was discussed further, and we jumped in to clear it straight away.”
Metallica frontman James Hetfield has said that “Master of Puppets” is about drug addiction, but the show used it to comment on Vecna’s mind-controlling abilities. “They share similarities in that they each have life-destroying powers that rob people of their essential personal powers,” Felder said. “The aggressive up-tempo metal sound belies its cautionary psychological and socially conscious lyrics, which are rooted in a sensitive concern for others. The sensitive side that we’ve seen in Eddie, which is clearly evident in the scene when he meets up with Chrissy, is similarly masked and concealed by Eddie’s abrasive public image.”
This isn’t the first time that Stranger Things has used Metallica’s music; Max Mayfield’s older brother Billy was a fan of the band, blasting their song “The Four Horsemen” during season 2. So when it came time to get approval from the band, Felder was confident.
“I got in touch with Metallica’s management office and carefully went over the scene and what the intent would be,” Felder recalled. “I knew the clearance would be taken seriously as we had used one of their songs in season 2 and had learned at that time that they were fans of the show. ‘Master of Puppets’ is a pretty significant song in their catalog, and I think it’s considered a favorite in their live shows. I wanted to be respectful in making sure that Metallica fully understood what context the song was being used in, plus how integral it was to the scene and for this exciting new character, Eddie Munson, who no one had met yet in previous seasons.”
As for shooting the scene itself, Felder confirmed that Eddie Munson actor Joseph Quinn actually learned the 8-minute-and-35-second metal opus on guitar. So while the music we hear in the show is a mixture of Metallica’s original studio track and Tye Trujillo’s additional guitar playing, Quinn put in his time to make sure that Eddie Munson would actually be seen playing the song on screen.
“Yes, Joseph did take time to learn the guitar riff and was actually playing along to a guide track,” Felder said. “Everyone thought he did a great job.”
Joseph Quinn learned to play “Master of Puppets” for Stranger Things
Naturally, Quinn also weighed in on all of this. “I’ve been playing guitars since I was a kid, fortunately, but by no means have I kept it up the whole time. But it meant that I had the foundations there,” Quinn told Esquire. “I went to the guitar shop and I bought a guitar, and I started practicing manically.”
I just remember being completely kind of dumbstruck with the kind of… there is a very specific world in which something like that could exist. And [series creators Matt and Ross Duffer] have created that world in which it doesn’t feel forced. I think it was the first scene that I shot coming back from Christmas break. When we got up there, me and Gaten [Matarazzo] just had the best time. It was quite a large crew that day. Also, there was a feeling that it was the first time that people had seen live music in a long time. No one would want to hear [me play it live], but I practiced, and I learned the song. We had a backing track playing and the whole crew were just fucking jamming out and we were having a blast. I still feel tremendously lucky.
In addition to Quinn’s acting, Tye Trujillo’s additional guitar parts, and the original Metallica studio track, the Upside Down metal concert also featured a guitar-playing body double for Eddie: guitarist Aidan Fisher, whose fingers you see playing the solo during “Master of Puppets.” Fisher came into the public eye in 2013, when he was pulled on stage at a Steel Panther concert after challenging the satirical hair metal band’s guitarist to a rock-off. Fisher was only eleven years old at the time, but shredded like a total pro. The video of his performance went viral and launched him into a career as a guitarist for hire.
After the release of Stranger Things 4, Fisher tweeted out a video of him playing Kirk Hammett’s iconic solo from “Master of Puppets,” which also includes a fun shot of him and Joseph Quinn both dressed up in their Eddie Munson garb.
“I had a bash,” Quinn said about the experience. “Who doesn’t want to feel like a rock star for an afternoon?”
All nine episodes of Stranger Things 4 are now streaming on Netflix.