October 16, 2020 — As the retrowave music scene continues to grow in popularity, Netflix has become one of the genre’s pathways to reach wider audiences. However, all things are good in moderation, and Netflix hasn’t overdone what fans of retrowave often describe as “synthwave” and 80’s synth-pop.
When Netflix reaches out to the music industry to synch retrowave tracks for their original programming, they almost always hit the mark. So, without further ado — here are six Netflix Originals that boast some bodacious synthwave tracks.
The story is about a young DJ invited to play a music festival and meets an eclectic group of people along the way. The soundtrack is diverse with plenty of dance music, but there are a few gems like “All I Ever Wanted” by Michael Brun. It’s not the strongest synth compilation, but it is worth checking out to collect one or two songs to add to your rotation.
ARQ is a mostly forgettable Sci-Fi Netflix original that would have a largely forgettable score if it wasn’t for the end credits. Out of nowhere, they hit you with a fantastic retrowave composition that would have livened up the movie a bit. Though the song’s name is nowhere to be found, it is composed by Keegan Jessamy and Bryce Mitchell.
This South Korean horror film is a fun watch for fans of zombie movies. The real treat is in the end credits when they play “Sail” by Inni. The movie was sufficient by itself, but it could have used more retrowave treatment to keep the suspense higher in some scenes.
Stranger Things is not only one of Netflix’s most popular originals of all time; it has one of the best soundtracks. It makes sense that a show set in the eighties would have a killer retrowave score to go along with it, but Kyle Dixon outdoes himself with every track. Of course, the most popular song has to be the opening theme, which fans could pick out within a few notes.
Cam is a strange and twisted thriller — one that is not for everyone. What is for everyone, however, is Gavin Brivik’s film score. There are plenty of songs to choose from but “PUMP IT!” is an excellent place to start if you are looking for some pure retrowave.
As an animated mini-series, this Japanese anime goes through its fair share of music. Luckily, a lot of it is heavy on the synth, so there is no shortage of tracks to enjoy. Almost all of the music in this intriguing show has some kind of synth inspiration, but it ranges in style from dance to darkwave, and none of it is easy to put a name, which is self-evident by the show’s theme song. You’ll have to listen to the soundtrack yourself to understand the unique and wide-ranging retrowave influence that flows over every track. If you are looking for a sample of what this soundtrack holds, check out “Akira in the Wild” by Yzui.
Black Mirror: San Junipero
It is not uncommon for a movie to have a soundtrack so good that it gets released as a stand-alone album. The same can’t be said for many TV episodes. San Junipero was not just any TV episode, and it was partly due to the killer soundtrack that accompanied it. The score is a mix between eighties hits and retrowave music that added a modern flair to the retro scene. Fans loved composer Clint Mansell’s original score so much that it was released as an album in 2016 called Synth Junipero — A Retrowave Compilation which is available on Spotify, Amazon, Deezer, and other music services.
It is a safe bet that Netflix will continue to license retrowave music for upcoming productions, not the least Stranger Things season 4 which is rumored to begin streaming in the summer of 2021. Netflix was not the birthplace of retrowave, but they are playing a part in its continued popularity. With Netflix pumping out original content, it makes sense that they would want fresh music to accompany it.