According to Cobra Kai co-creator Jon Hurwitz, The Karate Kid sequel series has tried to get one classic rock song into the show for years.
According to co-creator Jon Hurwitz, Cobra Kai has tried to get one particular song into the show for years. Written and executive produced by Hurwitz, Josh Heald, and Hayden Schlossberg, The Karate Kid sequel series takes place decades after the events of the All-Valley Karate Tournament—where Daniel La Russo (Ralph Macchio) may or may not have defeated Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) via an illegal crane kick. The series stars Zabka and Macchio alongside Martin Kove, who returns as original Cobra Kai sensei, John Kreese. New additions to the cast have included Courtney Henggeler, Xolo Maridueña, Tanner Buchanan, Mary Mouser, Jacob Bertrand, Gianni DeCenzo, and Peyton List. Season 4 sees the return of Thomas Ian Griffith’s The Karate Kid Part 3 character, Terry Silver.
Since its release on YouTube in 2018, Cobra Kai has garnered universal acclaim and maintained a high viewership—which has only increased following the move to Netflix—thanks to its unique tone, humor, and take on nostalgia. Through the lens of characters who haven’t moved on with their lives, Cobra Kai references the original Karate Kid trilogy and ‘80s popular culture. This trend continues in season 4, courtesy of things like training montages and, of course, its soundtrack—which is as important as an illegal crane kick.
In an interview with EW, Hurwitz spoke on how finding the right music Cobra Kai is a collaborative process. For example, in episode 2 of season 4, Johnny puts Daniel through an intense Eagle Fang training session. In the script, this scene was set to an AC/DC song they’d been trying to get for years: “We had ‘Thunderstruck’ written into the script,” said Hurwitz. “We’ve written ‘Thunderstruck’ into the script several times over the years, and we’ve never been able to afford it at that moment or to make that choice [to spend the money on it] right now.” Ultimately, Cobra Kai’s music supervisor, Michelle Johnson, stepped in to suggest the Eagle Fang training montage be set to Airbourne’s “Breakin’ Outta Hell,” which is what made it into the episode.
Mötley Crüe’s “Girls Girls Girls” was also written into season 4, episode 6, when Johnny attempts to recruit female students to his Eagle Fang dojo. Thankfully, the latter is an instance of Cobra Kai’s creators being able to afford the perfect song. In the above interview, Hurwitz went on to talk about how, in a perfect world, Cobra Kai would have the kind of budget to allow for nonstop AC/DC, Bon Jovi, and Guns N’ Roses. Still, throughout its four seasons, Cobra Kai has included everyone from AC/DC, Poison, Ratt, and Journey to Foreigner, and REO Speedwagon. In season 4, episode 5, they even managed to use Survivor’s “Burning Heart” for a training montage meant to reference 1985’s Rocky IV.
At this point, Cobra Kai has countless main characters. However, its identity still revolves around its initial focal point in Johnny Lawrence—a man who’s stuck in the ‘80s. He uses the same vernacular, knows nothing about technology, and listens to the same music. By focusing on Johnny as its anti-hero from the jump, the series deconstructed The Karate Kid’s idea of an archetypal antagonist. While the humor of lesser shows would risk disrespecting nostalgia, Cobra Kai masterfully walks that tightrope the same way it does the one between hero and villain. With the show’s popularity continuing to rise, and at least a couple of seasons left, it’s only a matter of time before viewers finally hear “Thunderstruck.”
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