In addition to being one of Black Mirror’s most universally acclaimed episodes, season three’s “San Junipero” installment is also notable for being one of the hit series’ most uplifting episodes ... well, as “uplifting” as a show about the many ways technology can be terrifying can be. Part of the episode’s strength is that it’s partly rooted in 1980s nostalgia—specifically: 1987—with all its bad fashions and great music.
While the episode itself features a handful of highly recognizable tunes—including Belinda Carlisle’s “Heaven is a Place on Earth” and The Smiths’s “Girlfriend in a Coma”—series creator Charlie Brooker’s musical inspiration for the episode went far beyond what you hear during its runtime. Now, he’s paying tribute to all 42 of the songs that informed the episode’s narrative with a new Spotify playlist, according to NME.
The musical genres range from straight pop to rap, with Madonna, INXS, Depeche Mode, Run DMC, and Public Enemy among the featured artists. Even Was (Not Was), the band behind “Walk the Dinosaur,” gets some airtime.
In an interview with Vogue, Brooker explained his reasons for setting the episode in the past:
"One, I wanted to do a period episode. Two, I’d read that some people were worried that after Black Mirror went to Netflix it was going to be all Americans. So I thought, ‘All right, f*ck you. Opening scene: California.’ I was deliberately trying to upend what a Black Mirror was. If you think about the first episode of the third season of Black Mirror, you probably picture it’s someone in the year 2045 scowling at the app store. So I thought, let’s not do that. So 1987—I think I would have been about 16—it felt like a really good era to anchor it in. It was shiny, it’s aspirational, and it just felt like the perfect place to revive this sort of simulation, with this heightened, movie-fied version of 1987. And then there’s huge nostalgia for me. All the music I said I hated, I secretly loved all of it; T’Pau and all of that. It was a great way for me to indulge in all those guilty pleasures. To go back and revisit all of that music people claimed to hate in 1987. In the ending, I did want to do something where you saw them in loads of different eras, like in the 1920s. It’s so much fun when it jumps to 1980, and 1996, and 2002.”
Take a listen for yourself on Spotify.