Michael Stein and Kyle Dixon’s Stranger Things Theme Turned Their Careers Upside Down at No. 4.

This time of year, it’s become a bit of a tradition around here for us to not only count down the last few pages on the calendar, but also the best songs to come out of North Texas in the past 12 months. As I think we’ve shown in years past, the results are pretty much always diverse, with a few seemingly out-of-left-field choices in some pretty high-ranking slots. This year, in a countdown that will be unveiled in chunks day by day for the rest of the year, you’ll find some Grammy nominees alongside brand new bands that just started up this year, as well as some high school acts and, well, everything else in between. The one thing they have in common? They all put out fire in 2016.

We’ve reached the No. 4 spot on our list of the best locally-tied songs of 2016. And, in this case, “best” is a distinction we’ve got to make. Because if this was a list of the most important songs of the year, Michael Stein and Kyle Dixon’s Stranger Things theme would be far and away a landslide No. 1.

Local ties or no — Dixon and Stein are both members of the Austin-based band S U R V I V E, but grew up in Dallas — simply no other song had a bigger impact on the musical zeitgeist of 2016 and, years from now, few will be able to command such nostalgia. That’s really the beauty of the song, as well as the rest of the score for the popular Netflix series.

Like our own Pete Freedman said earlier this year: “The series is essentially a remix of classic science fiction and horror tropes from such touchstones as E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, Halloween, Twin Peaks and, well, take your pick of Stephen King adaptations.”

The Top 100 Dallas-Area Songs of 2016: 20 to 11.
The Top 100 Dallas-Area Songs of 2016: 40 to 21.
The Top 100 Dallas-Area Songs of 2016: 60 to 41.
The Top 100 Dallas-Area Songs of 2016: 80 to 61.
The Top 100 Dallas-Area Songs of 2016: 100 to 81.
The Top 100 Local Songs of 2015.

Just like the show visually mined those ’80s film tropes, the eerie-sounding, vaguely retro opening sequence gave healthy wink to ’70s electronic music pioneers Tangerine Dream, which scored over 60 films, 20 of the most noteworthy of which came in the ’80s. And those influences were rewarded when Tangerine Dream offered up a nod of approval via a cover of the tune.

They weren’t the only ones to do so, either. Loads of musicians the internet over covered the tune this year. Wiz Khalifa even sampled it in one of his new raps, and it was mashed up several times, too, like in this one with The Weeknd’s “Starboy.”

But none of those other versions quite lived up the instant classic that is the original — especially when listened to whilst watching those glowing red letters float by.

Binge watchers, critics and industry types all seemed to agree on the title theme’s merits. And, for their efforts, Dixon and Stein earned two separate Grammy nominations in the “Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media” category for both volumes of their Stranger Things score, anchored of course by that undeniable opening theme.

The song’s success has also helped give some extra shine to the boys’ main project, which released an LP on Relapse Records this year and will perform at It’ll Do Club this New Year’s Eve.

The Full List: The Top 100 Local Songs of 2016.

100. Unlikely Candidates – “Ringer”
99. Hextape – “Candy”
98. FXXXY – “20 Taliband”
97. Ronnie Heart – “Smoovie”
96. Mimisiku – “I Can’t Sleep”
95. Sarah Jaffe – “Did David Feel Like This?”
94. Essay EyE – “Ultra Super Saiyan II”
93. Matt Tedder – “Down the Road”
92. Picnic Lightning – “American Ruin”
91. Joe Savage – “Your Drinkin'”
90. Snarky Puppy – “Tarova”
89. Sur Duda – “Fort Night”
88. KissedKilled – “Come Home With Me”
87. Giant of the Mountain – “Crawl”
86. Saint Clair – “Cookin'”
85. Cut Throat Finches – “Moon Beast”
84. Kino Kimino & Son of Stan – “Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover”
83. Siberian Traps – “New Friend in Town”
82. Tony Ferraro – “The God of Homosexuals”
81. Vanesa Jessie – “Who I Am”
80. Court Hoang — “(I Should Have Done This) A Long Time Ago”
79. Cosmicide — “Everything’s Under Waves”
78. Starbass Laboratories — “Digital Age”
77. Rei Clone — “Ready to Die”
76. Joshua Dylan Balis — “Modern Gospel”
75. Grey Matter — “Scared Man” (feat. Alsace Carcione)
74. Kevin England — “I’m Stuck with this Commercial Rock (Put This Song In Your Business’ Next Commercial!)”
73. Medicine Man — “You Are Safe”
72. 88 Killa — “Boomerang”
71. Ari Roar — “Dove”
70. War Party — “Jellyfish”
69. Danny Diamonds — “Rachel”
68. Fat Pimp –- “Moves to Make” (feat. Lil Ronny MothaF)
67. Maren Morris — “80s Mercedes”
66. Party Static — “Wasted Waster”
65. The Longshots — “Fire Gospel”
64. Drakulas –- “Neon Town”
63. Gensu Dean & Denmark Vessey — “The Meek”
62. Corner Suns — “Borrowed Time”
61. School of Seven Bells — “On My Heart”
60. Oh Boy Prince — “Astronaut”
59. EB Rebel — “Colours”
58. Jacob Metcalf — “Cut Your Ties”
57. Danny Cainco — “I Do”
56. Native Fox — “Heart Will Never Change”
55. Rikki Blu — “All In”
54. Serrandon — “Late Night Meltdowns
53. Becky Middleton — “I’m Still Here”
52. Ish D — “Holding Aces”
51. Power Trip — “Firing Squad”
50. Devy Stonez — “Slow it Down” (feat KissedKilled)
49. Honor System — “Horror Scope”
48. Sad Cops — “Its Eating At Me”
47. Cozy Hawks — “True Pair”
46. Charley Crockett — “Silver Dagger”
45. Takeez — “Stokley Carmichael (feat. Bobby Sessions)”
44. Ishi — “Bring the Thunder”
43. Camp Anawanna — “Cool Shoes”
42. Quaker City Night Hawks — “Mockingbird”
41. Post Malone — “Leave”
40. The Phantom Sensation — “Firewalkin'”
39. Bowling for Soup — “Don’t Be a Dick”
38. The Misteries — “Love Drugs”
37. Thin Skin — “Trump Is a Pig”
36. Xes — “Troll”
35. Relick — “Offering”
34. Bruce Parker — “Blindside”
33. True Widow — “Theurgist”
32. John Congleton & The Nighty Nite — “Animal Rites”
31. RC & The Gritz — “The Feel”
30. Tiger + Man — “Wondering”
29. NEONNOAH — “Dreaming With the Lights On”
28. Trai Bo — “C U L8R”
27. Lizzie Boredom — “Crunk Punk (So… You’re a Mixologist)”
26. Motorcade — “Recover”
25. Norah Jones — “Flipside”
24. EATQS — “Symmetry”
23. Jesus Chris + The Beetles — “I’m a Bad Person and I’m Going to Hell”
22. Pageantry — “Teenage Crime Wave”
21. Sam Lao — “Gold Link”
20. RVNES — “Code 10” (feat Lil Ronny Motha F, Fat Pimp)
19. Conor Wallace — “Asshole in Your House”
18. Ashley Myrick — “Stay for a While”
17. Coach Tev — “Lefty”
16. Felix — “peanut butter an yo…”
15. Paul Cauthen — “Still Drivin”
14. Jack Ingram — “Blaine’s Ferris Wheel”
13. Parquet Courts — “Berlin Got Blurry”
12. Leon Bridges and Lecrae — “On My Own”
11. Astronautalis — “Attila Ambrus”
10. Medasin — “Public Service Announcement” (featuring Josh Pan)
9. Pueblo — “Drive Safe”
8. A.Dd+ — “Dallas Flexas”
7. Curtis Mayz — “Candy Coated Caddy”
6. Conner Youngbloood — “A Summer Song”
5. Post Malone — “Deja Vu”
4. Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein – “Stranger Things”
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