Warning: contains SPOILERS for Stranger Things season 4, volume 2.
A specific Stranger Things season 4 finale song is a bit eyebrow-raising as it was released a decade after the show's events, but there's a good reason for the '90s song inclusion. Stranger Things is pretty purposeful with its music, and its use of Moby's 1995 song "When It's Cold I'd Like To Die" is no exception. However, even Stranger Things' non-diegetic music is from the 1980s and earlier. Therefore, it's particularly noticeable that "When It's Cold I'd Like To Die" completely ignores the show's time period constraints.SCREENRANT VIDEO OF THE DAY
It's not the only instance when Stranger Things has used a song released after the season's year setting. In Stranger Things season 1, episode 4 "The Body," Joy Division's 1988 song "Atmosphere" plays despite the season being set in 1983. With that said, "When It's Cold I'd Like To Die" remains the show's only '90s song.
Related: Stranger Things 4: What Max's Song Really Means
Just like Eddie's Upside Down song "Master of Puppets," there are layers of meaning to the use of Moby's song. Played during Eddie (Joseph Quinn) and Max's (Sadie Sink) simultaneous death scenes, the use of a '90s song in a show set in the '80s may seem jarring even if the mood provided by the song is undeniably powerful and appropriate for the moment. Nonetheless, by looking deeper into why it plays during the scene, the use of "When It's Cold I'd Like To Die" in Stranger Things' season 4 finale is made more understandable.
Where Else Stranger Things Used Moby's Song "When It's Cold I'd Like To Die"
Stranger Things season 4's use of "When It's Cold I'd Like To Die" is actually a season 1 callback, making its otherwise confusing inclusion a lot more understandable. In the season 1 finale, the song plays while Joyce (Winona Ryder) and Hopper (David Harbour) are resuscitating Will (Noah Schnapp). Scenes of Hopper's daughter Sara dying flash intermittently while he guides Joyce through CPR to show the deeper stakes Will's resuscitation holds for Hopper. Saving Will means more than saving a child's life to Hopper. Saving Will gives Hopper some redemptive healing after traumatically watching doctors fail to resuscitate his own child.
While Stranger Things could have used a song from the '80s that conveyed a similar emotion during that scene, Moby's "When It's Cold I'd Like To Die" carries a particular level of emptiness needed for the moment. It's a song about giving up, especially in the face of abandonment. The song's most famous use prior to Stranger Things was at the end of season 6, episode 2 of The Sopranos during Tony's (James Gandolfini) comatose dream. In that instance, the song highlights Tony's hopelessness in the face of increasing alienation caused by the mobster life.
What Moby's Song Really Means In Stranger Things 4
From Stranger Things' heavily-used Max memories to Vecna's (Jamie Campbell Bower) trauma-based killing methodology, Stranger Things season 4 uses flashbacks and memories quite thematically. This theme becomes exemplified by the season 4 finale's use of a season 1 finale song in an almost identical fashion. The scene of Eddie dying permanently while Max dies, only to later come back to life because of Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) intervening, greatly parallels the season 1 scene in which the song was previously used. Allegorically speaking, the season 4 scene replaces Sara Hopper with Eddie and Will with Max. The contexts of their respective deaths are slightly changed, for Eddie's death is not a flashback but a simultaneously-happening moment. In addition, Max's Stranger Things season 4 fate is undetermined but grim, unlike Will, who fully came back to life in the season 1 scene. Stranger Things plays an interesting risk of reaching beyond its 1980s world by using the '90s song twice in the show. Nonetheless, Moby's "When It's Cold I'd Like To Die" creates the perfectly haunting, empty tone necessary for both Stranger Things scenes, with its thematic callback nature in season 4 giving the song an added level of meaning.