The musical kids of Stranger Things

From killing cops in music videos to killing it on stage on Broadway, Stranger Things' cast of kids have quite the musical acumen.

August 2, 2016

Have you watched Stranger Things yet? You should watch Stranger Things. Go do that, then read this, not only because this might potentially contain the most minimal of spoilers, but also because it’s a lovely blend of beautifully pandered nostalgia, sharp, tense horror, and child actors who aren’t bad (said the writer who still tries to justify Wesley Crusher’s existence).

But yeah: It’s a good show, and one whose fans might be surprised to know was made with four child actors with surprisingly musical backgrounds. Hell, even Winona Ryder’s been known to frolic in the odd music video (including this one, with Matthew Modine’s Dr. Brenner with her).

Mike Wheeler
Played By: Finn Wolfhard

Excellently named young actor Finn Wolfhard first caught our attention two years ago in Pup’s fittingly Stand By Me-ish video for “Guilt Trip.” In the video, Wolfhard (seriously, great name) plays the role of frenetic frontman Stefan Babcock, rewriting and twisting the band’s origin story into something decidedly more violent. But with his mischievous gang of pals and youthful energy, the kid who went onto be Wheeler might have found some of his early acting energy from this Canadian punk rock gem.

Dustin Henderson
Played By: Gaten Matarazzo

Actor Gaten Matarazzo doesn’t need his two front teeth after all: While the man behind Dustin suffers from the same real life affliction (cleidocranial dysplasia) as his Stranger Things counterpart, it hasn’t stopped him carving out a promising young career as a Broadway actor. While Matarazzo’s done the rounds as an anthem singer, he most recently held his own in Les Miserables as Gavroche. He can act, stealing Stranger Things like Eleven does Eggos, but he can also really, really sing. 

Lucas Sinclair
Played By: Caleb McLaughlin

Stranger Things realist Lucas Sinclair is played by Caleb McLaughlin, who before his turn on the Netflix smash was fulfilling the role of Young Simba in The Lion King on Broadway. Here’s hoping his career sustains longer than Jonathan Taylor Thomas. Next year, he’ll star as Ricky Bell in a made-for-TV miniseries about 80s pop kings New Edition.


Played By: Millie Bobby Brown

The largely voiceless actress behind Eleven has been hiding an incredible voice, and with it comes a few surprises: Among them, her noticeable British accent. The 12-year-old actress is an admitted vinyl convert and lover of Adele, and while skittish and quiet on the show, has seemingly no qualms about belting it out online.

Steve Harrington
Played By: Joe Keery

And then there’s Steve, he of the mockbuster Tom Cruise, perfect hair variety. His arc on the show was great, turning him from a coiffed Indiana-bred Joffrey into an unlikely hero, but its his work off set that’s surprising us. It turns out Steve, played by Joe Keery, doubles as the drummer for Chicago psych rockers Post Animal. Described by a local paper as Tame Impala filtered through Black Sabbath and the Elephant 6, the hype they’re getting due to dots being connected can surprisingly stand on its own. In short? They’re pretty good!

Jonathan Byers
Played By: Charlie Heaton

On the other side of the Nancy love triangle is sulking Benicio del Toro facsimile Jonathan Byers, played by secret-Brit Charlie Heaton. Much like Steve’s Joe Keery, Heaton is also a drummer, but his stint with noise rockers Comanechi took a much, er, noisier route than Keery’s groovy psychrock.

Of course we’d be remiss if we didn’t talk about the show’s soundtrack. While not the work of children, the music that guides them has been so well received that Netflix has promised an official soundtrack is on its way. The band behind the show’s creepy score is Austin’s S U R V I V E, a synth-laden quartet signed to extreme metal label Relapse Records. They’ll release their second album, RR7349, next month.

If you dig the Stranger Things sound (crafted by two of the band’s four members), you’ll dig this:

Exclusive videos, interviews, contests & more.

sign up for the a.side newsletter

sign up