Everything on Fear Street 1994: The Ultimate Soundtrack Review
How you can learn more about Netflix's Fear Street by listening to the soundtrack
Netflix’s Fear Street is based on the book series of the same name by R. L. Stine and directed by Leigh Janiak. The film starts as a teen slasher parody but rapidly grows into a saga powered by vintage nostalgia, namely during part one — 1994.
No, actually, the team from Chernin Entertainment wasn’t thinking like, “this film is about 1994; let’s do a Google search for songs on the radio from that year.” A handful of the tunes from the soundtrack hadn’t even been released back then. No, it’s not a silly mistake. The songs are there to meet a higher purpose than the all 90s aura. Let’s dig into it, shall we?
Fear Street Part 1: 1994
The pilot episode opens with a scene inside the Shadyside Mall bookstore. Heather doesn’t know it yet, but she is minutes away from being stabbed to death by some guy in a skull mask. It's closing hours at the mall, and “Closer,” a signature song by Nine Inch Nails, is playing on the PA.
How strange is that? Heather dances to the “super negative and super hateful.” turned “frat-party anthem or a titty-dancer anthem.” (in Trent Reznor’s own words). “Closer” is the second single from their second studio album, The Downward Spiral, released May 30, 1994. 🔪
Josh is my alter-ego in Fear Street; He’s the geeky guy that listens to Iron Maiden’s “Fear of the Dark” (1992) while he chats online on AOL’s Shadyside Killers room as @Horrible8ilence with @QueenofAiranDarkness. The song depicts him quite well because the lyrics are about nyctophilia and being afraid and charmed by the darkness. 🖤
Afterward, another nice twist to the story with “Only Happy When It Rains.” Garbage’s meta-song about the lyrics of the Seattle Sound in the early ’90s. Please note the subliminal reference between the grayish lyrics and the toponymic “Shadyside.” 🌧️
Butch Vig explained how the song is all about the “angst-filled thing which has dominated the American alternative rock scene. The lyrics are a perfect fit for the self-deprecation aura built around the town and its inhabitants.
The first chords to “Machine Head” (1994) by Bush irrupt when the camera focuses on the U.S.flag at the Shadyside school. My mind drifts back to my teen years and going to school with Sixteen Stone playing on my Discman. Bush impacted my life and influenced my musical vocation as a bassist. 🎸
It has that punky feel and teenage angst to it that fits the atmosphere of the series perfectly. It’s also a love song with those verses: I felt you like electric light/For our love, for our fear, it was like I was sixteen all over again.
The grungier song from the soundtrack is the installment part of a medley that bridges with the pop cult song “Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover” (1992) by Sophie B. Hawkins.
A perfect cheezy moment for a lovesick Josh starring at Kate walk past him Portishead “Sour Times” (1994) closes it by portraying Deena’s thought and her broken heart: “Cause nobody loves me, it’s true.” 💔
Afterward, Cypress Hill's “Insane In The Brain” (1993) plays on the school bus radio. This was actually a diss song and a parody with that famous sample of a horse neigh. It’s a bro-type of a song about doing something crazy, and that’s exactly what’s about to happen. 🧠
That’s why Deena puts on her headphones and quietly listens to the iconic Radiohead’s “Creep.” (1992). Another of my fav teen angst songs. Another sweet-sixteen flashback to an era where I too lacked the self-confidence to face my own true love and tell her how I felt. I bet you all can relate to that. 💔
Josh listens to White Zombie’s “More Human Than Human” while playing “Castlevania: Bloodlines,” which was released for Sega Genesis (Mega Drive) in 1994. The song was released on April 11, 1995, and will come up again during the final credits. “More Human Than Human” is the motto of the Tyrell Corporation, which manufactures “Replicant” humans in Blade Runner (1983). ☠️
“Thursday” is a song from the album Queens of Hell’s Kitchen by 99 Tales, released March 2, 2021. The quartet from Sacramento has that same guy-gal tonal approach and melodic guitars we know from bands like The Pixies. The sonic resemblance with the band from Black Francis and Kim Deal explains why this song landed on the soundtrack. This song has all the pre-grunge leitmotivs; thus, it comes out like a great easter-egg. 🥚
Listening to Snoop Dogg freestyle his way out of “GZ And Hustlas,” released November 23, 1993, sounds pretty dope as the backdrop for Kate’s hustle: “So sit back relax new jacks get smacked/ It’s Snoop Doggy Dogg I’m at the top of the stack.” 💊
One of the most awkward moments musically-wise in Fear Street is the transition from Roberta Flack’s “Killing Me Softly With His Song” (1973) to “Your Woman” (1997), a song by British one-man band White Town released as the lead single from the album Women in Technology.
Another unexpected medley, but adequate to the dystopian ambiance at the East Union Memorial Hospital room and the flamboyantly wacko nurse Beddy. 🏥
The Mills Brothers “You Always Hurt The One You Love" (1944) is a pop standard and part of the Great American Songbook canon that pre-dates the advent of rock and roll. It’s slasher villain Ruby Lane’s song for going out on a murdering rampage and a fitting song for a character that gutted all her friends and boyfriend. 🔪
Cowboy Junkies’ version of “Sweet Jane” is a perfect musical choice for a fiery lovemaking scene between Deena and Sam, followed by the cheezy first kiss between Josh and Kate. This is a song for the young and reckless, and listening to it, we all recall how Trent Reznor used it for the soundtrack to Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers (1994)👄
When you have zombie-blood-drawn-serial-killers as antagonists, and you plan to torch them, then Firestarter (1996) by the Prodigy is the perfect match 🔥
The Pixies are Deena and Sam’s making-out type of band, and “Hey,” released March 8, 1994, is the ultimate feel-good song. To top it up in Fear Street, it comes with pizza. 🍕
Every time Josh’s mid-90’s dial-up connection comes up on AOL, we know we’re in for a musical treat. Just before the end, it’s time for Sound Garden "The Day I Tried To Live," a song released on March 8, 1994, about “trying to do one’s best and failing, despite having the best intentions,” hence setting the tone for the “we’re not off the hook yet” finale. 💻
Alice Cooper's “School’s Out,” released May 1, 1972, wraps things up nicely with scenes from Fear Street: 1978 (Which is actually my birth year, how cool is that?). Listening to that bridge: “Out for summer/ Out ’til fall/We might not come back at all,” we know there’s a lot more gore coming in the prequel. 🔪
Music History: Rewind to 1994
Looking back, 1994 for me was the ultimate teen pop culture year. The Crow by Alex Proyas was released that year in May, and that film is basically the soundtrack to my sonic youth years. From my perspective, 1994 had some of the best and one of the worst days in music history. Let’s recall some of them.
January 25: Alice in Chains release the EP Jar of Flies (first EP to debut at #1 on Billboard 200)
February 1: Green Day releases Dookie, the installment piece for the all post-grunge mid-90s punk revival.
- March 1: Nirvana play their final concert in Munich.
- March 3:Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain lapses into a coma after overdosing on Rohypnol and champagne in his hotel room in Rome.
- April 8: Kurt Cobain is found dead. His death, three days before, is legally declared to be suicide from a self-inflicted gunshot.
- April 11: The Offspring release Smash, which goes on to become the best-selling independent album of all time and one of the most influential albums of the 90s.
- May 27: The Eagles launch the Hell Freezes Over tour in Burbank, California.
- June 27: Aerosmith becomes the first major band to premiere a new song on the Internet.
- August 9: Machine Head release Burn My Eyes.
- August 12–14: Woodstock ’94 is held in Saugerties, New York.
- October 11: Korn launches its self-titled debut album.
- November 30: The Breeders guitarist Kelley Deal is arrested in Ohio.
- December 31: The twenty-third New Year’s Rockin’ Eve is held in NY.