Echoes of the Past: Popular Music and Nostalgia in Modern Television Drama

“Nostalgia is a longing for a home that no longer exists or has never existed. Nostalgia is a sentiment of loss and displacement, but it is also a romance with one’s own fantasy.” Thus writes Svetlana Boym in the book The Future of Nostalgia, a book that explores a tendency in modern art and society: how we, as people and artists, look backwards while walking into the future, embracing retro-versions of phenomena that we vaguely remember or only know through media-created images and sounds. This phenomenon is also prevalent in the current TV landscape, where we hear the echoes of the past on the soundtrack- from the subtle musical echoes of the 1980s in Show Me a Hero (HBO, 2015) to the overt and prolific uses of period-specific music in shows like The Americans (FX, 2013-2018) and Stranger Things (Netflix, 2015-). In this audiovisual essay, Andreas Halskov explores the connection between nostalgia and popular music in modern television drama, focusing on a handful of prominent period dramas that are set in the 1980s.

SPOILER WARNING: The popular music in Stranger Things (Netflix, 2015-) is analyzed in this audiovisual essay, which also mentions the ending of the series.

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Facts

  • Screenplay: Andreas Halskov
  • Production and editing: Jan Oxholm
  • For study purposes only.

Excerpts from

  • Stranger Things (2015-) © Duffer Brothers, Netflix
  • Halt and Catch Fire (2014-2017), © Cantwell/Rogers, AMC
  • The Americans (2013-2018) © Weisberg, FX
  • Show Me a Hero (2015), © Simon, HBO
  • Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) © Cameron, TriStar/Live/Artisan,
  • E.T. – The Extra-Terrestrial (1982), © Spielberg, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
  • St. Elmo’s Fire (1985) © Schumacher, Image Entertainment
  • Dark (2017-) © Odar/Friese, Netflix
  • Miami Vice (1984-1990) © Mann/Yerkovich, NBC/Mill Creek Entertainment.

Sources

  • Boym, Svetlana (2001), The Future of Nostalgia. New York: Basic Books.
  • Gorbman, Claudia (1987), Unheard Melodies. Indiana University Press.
  • Halskov, Andreas (2009), “Lad musikken tale“, 16:9, April.
  • Langkjær, Birger (2000), Den lyttende tilskuer. Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum.
  • Smith, Murray (2006), “The Sound of Sentiment“, 16:9, November.

Andreas Halskov (f. 1981). Cand.mag i filmvidenskab og engelsk, ekstern lektor ved Aarhus Universitet, lektor i engelsk og mediefag ved Egaa Gymnasium og fast kurator og filmformidler for Cinemateket og Øst for Paradis. Har undervist, holdt foredrag og udgivet artikler i diverse film- og medierelaterede sammenhænge (bl.a. i tidsskrifter som EKKO, AngloFiles, Critical Studies in Television, Soundvenue og Kosmorama samt dagblade som Politiken, JP og Information). Har desuden bidraget med kapitler til bøgerne Essays on the American West in the Films of David Lynch (McFarland & Co., 2022, red. Rob King et al.), Global TV Horror (Wales University Press, 2021, red. Lorna Jowett & Stacey Abbott), Levende billeder (Systime, 2020, red. Mimi Olsen et al.), TV-analyse (Systime, 2018, red. Gunhild Agger et al.), MedierNu – Massemedier og meningsdannelse (Systime, 2011, red. Rune Gregersen et al.) og Et fejlæstetisk univers (2011, red. Marie Boye Thomsen), foruden at have medforfattet og -redigeret bøgerne Fjernsyn for viderekomne  (Turbine, 2011), Guldfeber (Turbine, 2013), Helt til grin (VIA Film & Transmedia, 2017) og Streaming for viderekomne (VIA FIlm & Transmedia, 2020). Herudover har han skrevet opslaget om "blockbuster" i Medie- og kommunikationsleksikon (Samfundslitteratur, 2021, red. Gunhild Agger et al.) og skrevet bøgerne Paradoksets kunst - om David Lynch og hans film (Turbine, 2014), TV Peaks: Twin Peaks and Modern Television Drama (Syddansk Universitetsforlag, 2015), Død over Hollywood - eksistentielle spor i New Hollywoodfilmen (Antipyrine, 2016), VAMPYR (L&R, s.m. Henrik Rytter), Remakes, sequels og serialisering (Samfundslitteratur, 2019) og Beyond Television: TV Production in the Multiplatform Era (Syddansk Universitetsforlag, 2021). Halskov har også fungeret som ekspert i diverse medier (fx DR2, P1, P4 Radio 24/7 og Tv2 News), foruden at være fast filmekspert ved Tv2’s Go’morgen Danmark, tilbagevendende Oscar-ekspert for Berlingske, medarrangør af Aarhus Series og medvært i radioprogrammet Stream & Chill (Radio4).

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