Vecna may have been a fictional Dungeons & Dragons demon from The Upside Down who’s hellbent on killing its victims by invading their minds— but through him, Stranger Things Season 4 addresses real world issues like mental illness, trauma and fascinatingly, the power of music. Not Eleven’s powers, but Kate Bush’s Running Up That Hill emerges as the unexpected hero of the season pulling Max Mayfield out of Vecna’s psychic hold. As Pennhurst’s Warden Hatch from the show says, “The right song, particularly one which holds some personal meaning, can prove a salient stimulus.” Music can reach parts of the brain that words can’t. Science agrees. Songs have the ability to trigger sense memories, redirect our perspectives and help us snap out of despair. Sadie Sink told Netflix that Taylor Swift’s August is the song that would save her from Vecna’s thrall. “That song honestly can revive me from anything,” Sink admits. We asked Team ELLE to share that one song that has the power to save them if they ever found themselves trapped in Vecna’s hellscape, here’s what they had to say:
A Vecna-Proof Playlist
1. Sumona Bose, Beauty Writer
The song that will save me from Vecna’s curse is Free Bird by Lynyrd Skynyrd. It chronicles the wanderlust feelings of a young soul. It will appeal to anyone who has felt tied down by a difficult situation (or person). I first heard this song after quitting a particularly toxic and stressful job. I remember waiting for a train on my return commute, listening to it and feeling a weight being lifted from my shoulders. And soon enough, I was bawling – but, hey, are you even a Mumbaikar if you haven’t had a full breakdown in a crowded Kurla local? Fortunately, my breakdown happened to the tune of a classic-rock legend, with a song that builds into a climactic *Sick* guitar riff before asking the listener to fly high, free bird!
2. Sukriti Shahi, Beauty & Health Editor
The darkest moment of my life was when I lost my sister and to realise it each day that I won’t get to see or talk to her again is worse than being killed by a demon. So whenever I find myself in that dark spot, I think of music that she introduced me to when we were kids. It’s not just the music but also the feeling of having her around and living the moment of ultimate happiness and comfort that, for me, was only with her. It gives me hope and lets me relive my best days only to think of times that are yet to come. For me, it’s O’Sanam by Lucky Ali.
3. Shaeroy Chinoy, Junior Fashion Editor
While we may all want to believe the fairytale, life sometimes does get as real as it can. We all have our own pain and we learn how to live with it, do we have an option? We make space for this pain in our hearts and we embrace it with open arms. That’s how we keep the memories alive. Memories of the ones that left us and the ones that we miss. For me losing my mother has been the darkest phase of my life. You never actually get over a pain like that. While the sunlight may peep in this very darkness every now and again, it never completely gets OK. A song that helps me release my pain in the form of a puddle of tears every now and then, would be Carry You Home by James Blunt. The answer to the question why would definitely be in these lyrics:
As strong as you were, tender you go
I’m watching you breathing for the last time
A song for your heart, but when it is quiet
I know what it means and I’ll carry you home
I’ll carry you home
4. Zoha Castelino, Fashion Editor
My mom’s youngest brother, Anthony Castelino, was born with Down Syndrome on July 21st, 1964. 26 years later I was born on the same day. There was much resistance since the new baby stole all his thunder on his special day. Requests were made to send the baby back to God. After some persuasion and convincing that I was not an encumbrance but in fact a gift from God, Anton never let me out of his sight. We were at each other’s side in defence (from angry adults) and in joy and celebration. Many songs were sung. The first that I remember as a conscious being would be The Yellow Submarine. I even have it tattooed on my arm.
5. Isha Mayer, Digital Writer
As someone who has grown up watching multiple cliche rom-coms, the song Pocketful of Sunshine by Natasha Bedingfield appears in 8/10 of these movies. So obviously, it’s been stuck in my head since then because of how catchy it is. But it’s the lyrics of the song that has a deeper meaning for me. Natasha talks about breaking free and escaping to a sweet place, away from all the troubles in life. When my mind takes me to a place full of negativity, this song lifts my spirits and makes me happy.
6. Sakshi Sharma, Junior Digital Writer
I’ve known this song forever but it only very recently spoke to me. I was in a particularly dark place in my head a couple of months ago and I remember sitting in the monorail station waiting for my morning train to work, feeling like a black hole might swallow me at any time. My Spotify was on shuffle and Chiquitita by Abba popped up. In that moment it felt like the universe was speaking directly to me through that song, that I’ll be “dancing once again, and the pain will end.” Something shifted in me that day.
7. Subodh Shaw, Deputy Art Director
I don’t know if this song will save me from Vecna but it always fixes my mood and bring back my first crush memories (the best years of my life). This is my go-to song whenever I feel low and I believe that it can save me from any darkness. The song is Ghar Se Nikalte Hi from the movie Papa Kehte Hai (1996), Directed by Mahesh Bhatt, and the amazing Music by Rajesh Roshan.
8. Aliza Fatma, Editorial Assistant
9. Krishika Bhatia, Beauty Intern
The song that would save me from Vecna would be La Vie En Rose (English version by Daniela Andrade). It calms my nerves and keeps me grounded as a person who struggles with major anxiety and intrusive thoughts. The song makes helps me appreciate the present and what’s around me.
10. Keerat Kohli, Digital Intern
I wouldn’t call it my favourite song but this is a song that makes my heart happy and makes me feel loved. I aspire to find someone that makes me feel exactly how I feel when I listen to this song. I even remember the first time I heard this song, I knew this was the song I wanted to dedicate to the love of my life. The comfort this song gives me is unparalleled to any other song I have listened to before. The song is Mirrors by Justin Timberlake.
11. Ipsita Kaul, Digital Intern
It’ll be my sincerest effort to make this as less dark as possible, but here it goes. I find comfort in the concept of death. Not when associated with my loved ones, but for me, personally. I love thinking about the day I’ll be gone and accept mortality in all its unabashed glory. I’d love it if the song Let Me Follow by Son Lux would play in the background as I start my journey towards the unknown. Whenever I listen to the song, my entire experience is definitive of a supreme power which can be either god or a loved one telling me that it’s okay and guiding me beyond. And as for Vecna, he got nothing on me. Imma jam to my song when he crosses my path so he can shove it.
12. Diya Banerjee, Editorial Intern
The song which would save me from Vecna would be ‘The Best Day (Taylor’s version) because of the sentiment attached to that song between my sister and me. It is most definitely “our song” and makes me ugly cry every time I listen to it because she’s on the other side of the globe right now. Pretty sure Vecna would not want to deal with my ugly crying.
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