ABSTRACT

Well after its displacement as a dominant audio format in the 1990s, the cassette is making a comeback in American entertainment. Despite vinyl’s audiophile benefits, a leading cause of its revival, the cassette has been reclaimed to market nostalgic soundtrack albums, resurrect analog media experience, and drive cinematic and televisual narratives. To survey the cassette comeback, this chapter analyzes the role of the cassette in Marvel Studios/Walt Disney Pictures’ film franchise, Guardians of the Galaxy (2014, 2017); and two original Netflix shows, 13 Reasons Why (2017–), and Stranger Things (2016–). While films such as Baby Driver (2017), Atomic Blonde (2017), and Bumblebee (2018) are part of this larger trend, I examine film and television series with massive popular followings to reflect the contemporary mediascape and mark the cassette’s role in launching each text and appealing to young adults. At the time of this writing, fourth seasons for both television shows, and the third installment of the film franchise are in production. Furthermore, Guardians of the Galaxy and Stranger Things—both soundtrack-centric surprise hits—led cassette sales in 2017, with intriguing cassette art and marketing campaigns.