Here’s Every ’80s Song From ‘Black Mirror: Bandersnatch’ So You Can Marvel At The Details
Falling down the rabbit hole that is Bandersnatch has turned out to be one of 2018’s most unexpected pleasures (especially since it dropped at the tail end of the year). If your head is aching from all of those horrifying endings you’ve put Stefan through, it’s time to relax with every ’80s song in Bandersnatch. Well, it might be every song. Truth be told, it’s hard to tell if every pathway has been discovered just yet, as each choice leads the movie’s intrepid fans to a new twist in the choose your own adventure tale.
Just a little over 24 hours after the Black Mirror movie’s release, the amazing team at What’s On Netflix have compiled a list of every song in the movie that they’ve discovered so far. (They even went the extra mile and made a Spotify list of Bandersnatch‘s classic jams.) Even though every choice you make for video game designer Stefan seems to end in tragedy, there’s no denying the guy has excellent taste in music — with an assist from the viewers at home, of course.
If you can’t get Bandersnatch out of your head — and who can at this point? — take a break from the panic-inducing Frosties or Sugar Puffs dilemma and let the pure, ’80s goodness of the soundtrack wash over you with these nine songs from the movie.
1. "Relax" — Frankie Goes To Hollywood
Watch Bandersnatch long enough, and "Relax" will definitely be stuck in your head. Every time you have to start Stefan’s journey over again a snippet of the song plays thanks to his alarm clock radio, and eventually hearing Frankie Goes to Hollywood tell you to relax when you’re faced with life or death decisions begins to feel like a taunt. That’s the brilliance of the song choice though. It heightens the anxiety that goes along with the weight of making decisions that always seem to end up leading to the character’s doom.
"Relax" manages to be both the perfect ’80s anthem for the nostalgia-fueled film, and a reminder to the viewer that they only possess the illusion of control. It’s as if the constant refrain is there to tell you that you might as well relax, because no matter what you do, things aren’t going end well for Stefan. It could also be viewed as a message to Stefan that he has no choice but to relinquish control over his destiny. His fate isn’t his own, and it’s only guided by the viewer to a certain extent, so everyone might as well enjoy the show. After all, it’s only a game, right?
2. "Hold Me Now" — Thompson Twins
One of the first choices you make for poor Stefan is which cassette he should listen to after he boards the double decker bus for his job interview. It feels like the movie’s way of easing you into the whole making snap decisions for another human being thing, and it’s a clever way to engage viewers before they find themselves faced with that whole dead body dilemma later on. If you choose the Thompson Twins cassette, Stefan is treated to the calming 1983 ballad "Hold Me Now" as he heads to Tuckersoft. But ultimately, it’s a fairly benign choice in the grand scheme of things (seriously, this story gets dark fast).
Nothing major changes if you choose the Now That’s What I Call Music compilation instead. Still, this early music based decision does prepare you to make a more complex choice between two records later on in the movie. In turn, that particular decision helps set the tone for the soundtrack throughout the rest of the pathways following the record store scene. So in that way, this small choice between cassettes is a taste of things to come, even if it doesn’t have a major ripple effect on the interactive experience as a whole.
3. "Here Comes The Rain Again" — Eurythmics
The second cassette option is for 1984’s music compilation Now That’s What I Call Music II. If you choose the second cassette, "Here Comes the Rain Again" by the Eurythmics begins to blast through Stefan’s Walkman. The moody 1983 song offers up a sharp contrast to the sweet "Hold Me Now," and that distinction is what makes the ability to choose between songs at all feel almost revolutionary.
Movies are supposed to have set soundtracks, but Bandersnatch delights in breaking that rule. Granted, it’s not as if you’re offered limitless choices, but two options is still more than none. The whole point of choose your own adventure storytelling is to make the viewer feel as if they’re in control. The cassette dilemma accomplishes that very thing by handing over the reins to the movie’s soundtrack — even if it is only for a moment.
This installment of Black Mirror is all about testing the limits of technology and narrative, and dropping in the choice between a love ballad and a moody pop hit is just one more way that the movie pushes boundaries as the viewer settles into the process of making large and small decisions for Stefan.
4. "Too Shy" — Kajagoogoo
Even when you’re not responsible for choosing the songs, Bandersnatch breaks out the best ’80s tunes around. As evidenced by Kajagoogoo’s "Too Shy." The 1983 hit plays as Stefan stands in the record store trying to choose between a Tangerine Dream’s album Phaedra and Isao Tomita’s The Bermuda Triangle. Having that particular song play over the scene feels all too fitting since it is a classic UK pop tune that was likely inescapable during the era.
Additionally, it includes the lyric "Something’s wrong, you’re not naive." Even at such an early point in the narrative that feels like a wake up call for Stefan that something isn’t quite right in his world.
5. "Love On A Real Train" — Tangerine Dream
Later on in the story, Stefan and Colin have an interesting night if you choose the right path, and this trippy song makes for the perfect mood music. The duo’s drug-fueled night includes "Love on a Real Train" which plays as Colin suggests that he knows more about Stefan’s situation than he’s letting on. The entire scene is a meta commentary on the nature of reality and choice, and the synthetic pop sounds of Tangerine Dream’s 1984 track lend an extra dash of uneasiness to what is already an incredibly strange moment.
6. "Make Plans For Nigel" — XTC
OK, technically this song came out in 1979, but the lyrics couldn’t be more appropriate for Bandersnatch. First of all, the viewers are literally making plans for Stefan in an attempt to make things right in his world. No matter what choices you make though, things go wrong for the poor guy. As the lyrics say, "his fate is sealed."
The cleverness of the song also has to do when it plays. The jam can be heard as Stefan goes out to lunch with his dad — and "Making Plans for Nigel" is a song about parents trying to take care of their child. That adds a level of bitter-sweetness to the song choice that goes beyond it’s all-too fitting lyrics.
7. "O Superman" — Laurie Anderson
Unlock one of the film’s saddest endings and Black Mirror serves up the weepy "O Superman." It’s a gentle song that pairs perfectly with Stefan choosing to join his mother on the doomed train that ends her life. Of all the story threads offered up by the film, that one is the most hopeful even though it’s also devastating. After you play through Bandersnatch a few times, you begin to realize that there’s no happy ending, but at the very least the train ending is a peaceful one.
8. "New Life" — Depeche Mode
This song about new beginnings and hitting the same roadblocks over and over is incredibly relevant to Stefan’s story. It’s also notable for being played when Stefan and Colin meet. After all, meeting Colin is what seals the game creator’s fate as he becomes immersed in the process of making Bandersnatch a reality.
9. "Phaedra" — Tangerine Dream
The album Phaedra plays into one of the choices viewers get to make, but the eerily haunting track also plays a role in the film. If you choose the record, the song plays along with other songs by Tangerine Dream. The title song from the album is part of the bigger appeal of Bandersnatch — the opportunity to have a real impact on your own viewing experience, right down to the soundtrack.
As more Bandersnatch secrets are uncovered the movie’s soundtrack could expand, but these nine ’80s jams will keep you motivated to continue your adventure for now.
This post was originally published on Dec. 29, 2018. It was updated on June 8, 2019.
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