'Stranger Things' Season 3 and 'The Neverending Story' Song, Explained
How the Netflix hit resurrected another '80s classic.
In Stranger Things Season 3, the only thing that can save Hawkins from doom is a karaoke sing-along. In the season finale of the Netflix hit series, Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) sings a duet of “The Neverending Story” with his girlfriend Suzie (Broadway star Gabriella Pizzolo). Because that’s what you do when you’re chased by a body-swallowing Mind Flayer. Sing.
While the impromptu musical brings some much-needed levity to the show’s epic climax, some younger fans may be confused as to what the heck The Neverending Story even is. In fact, in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Matarazzo admitted he had never heard of it before receiving the script.
So what is The Neverending Story? Why does it sound so cheesy and yet so catchy? For those whose knowledge of the ‘80s comes exclusively from Netflix, here’s all you need to know about one of the most beloved eighties classics.
“Never give up, and good luck will find you.”
The song, “The Neverending Story,” is the theme song to the 1984 cult classic fantasy film, The Neverending Story, itself based on the 1979 German novel by Michael Ende. Performed by Limahl and composed by renowned Italian DJ Giorgio Moroder (you might know him from the track “Moroder” on Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories), the song was a number one hit in countries like Norway, Sweden, Austria, and the United States.
Sort of like “Ghostbusters,” “The Neverending Story” is just as remembered for the film it was recorded for; its inclusion in Stranger Things further cements the series’ unabashed love for all things 1980s.
Directed by Wolfgang Petersen, The Neverending Story stars Barret Oliver as Bastian Balthazar Bux, a bullied boy who discovers a magical book that sucks him into the world of Fantasia. Bastian is called upon Fantasia’s ruler to save the land from the dark force known as “The Nothing.”
While a modest success at the U.S. box office when it was released in July 1984, the film was a mega-hit in Germany. Altogether, the film grossed $100 million worldwide against a production budget of $27 million. It went on to become a bigger hit on home video, which gave the film its cult status. Its legacy can be mostly found in homages in music, such as the metal band Atreyu (named for another character) and a skit performed by The Lonely Island.
“Stuck in Everyone’s Heads”
Behind the scenes of Stranger Things, the song found a life of its own. As reported by The Hollywood Reporter, Matarazzo was unaware of The Neverending Story and only learned about it through the show’s script.
“I just read it in the script,” he said, “I didn’t know the song before; I wasn’t familiar with it.”
Both Matarazzo and Pizzolo have extensive experience on Broadway, which made their “duet” surprisingly easy to get right. Matarazzo has been on Broadway, starring in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and Les Misérables. Pizzolo, meanwhile, made her stage debut in 2013 in the starring role of Matilda the Musical.
While Suzie is in Utah when the Hawkins kids are in trouble, Pizzolo herself was on set with the rest of production. Said Matarazzo: “We ended up harmonizing together, which I didn’t expect. It just took like a day to learn all the words. Definitely by the end of the day it was stuck in everyone’s heads.”
Composer Michael Stein, who didn’t plan to include The Neverending Story into the series, was confused when he heard “Robin” actor Maya Hawke singing it to herself.
“I was on set and I heard [her] going around the warehouse singing ‘Neverending Story’ and I had no idea that that was a part of the narrative of the show,” he said. “And I was like why is she singing ‘Neverending Story?’ Later I found out.”
Where Can I Listen to The Neverending Story?
You can listen to both the original by Limahl and Matarazzo/Pizzolo’s cover for Stranger Things on Spotify.
Correction: An earlier version of this article mixed up the details of The Neverending Story’s plot. We regret the error.
Stranger Things Season 3 is streaming now on Netflix.