Kate Bush – Still Running Up That Hill

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Ahead of The Most Wuthering Heights Day Ever Sandy Lowres explores the eternal power of Kate Bush–and how she keeps running up that hill.

If you’ve turned on the radio or your streaming services lately, or checked out the mainstream music charts, you might be forgiven for thinking that you’ve landed back in 1985.

Unless you have been living under a bushel of late, you will no doubt be hearing the ethereal voice of Kate Bush everywhere you go. Currently the 63-year-old singer, who wrote, produced, and owns the copyright for Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God) is enjoying newfound adulation from a whole new generation of music lovers, and it’s speculated, incredible royalties.

The song that featured on Bush’s The Hounds of Love album boasts the longest-ever gap between No. 1 singles in Official Chart history, with 44 years separating her 1978 career-launching singles Wuthering Heights and Running Up That Hill which now lands at No. 1 on the charts in the UK (and many other countries). Originally titled A Deal with God, Kate Bush made a rare concession and changed the name of her iconic hit to Running Up That Hill when told a single using God in the title wouldn’t get played on radio stations in conservative Christian countries. What Bush did not concede was her right to write, own and produce her own music, something that paved the way for other female artists who followed her.

So how is it that a 1985 banger of a song suddenly found new life in a back-to-the-future-like scenario? We can thank a new love affair for all things 1980s. Shows currently being streamed that have been set in the 80’s includes GLOW (Glamourous Ladies of Wrestling), Physical and of course a show which is becoming a cult classic in real time, Stranger Things.

Running Up That Hill was featured in Season 2 of the series Physical, currently streaming on Apple TV, but it was an extraordinarily emotional scene in Season 4 (Volume 1) of Stranger Things, now streaming on Netflix, that catapulted the hit into a whole new stratosphere. Stranger Things, the brainchild of the Matt and Ross Duffer (known as the Duffer Brothers), is a science fiction horror drama, based in the 1980’s. From the very first episode of Season 1, it’s clear to see the love affair with the 80’s the creators have. In every episode, there are so many 80’s gems hidden in plain sight, and nods given to the movies, music and fashion that shaped a whole generation, set against a backdrop of small-town USA.

The show, starring Winona Ryder (Joyce Byers) and a cast if incredible young actors, who have grown up across four seasons of the show, has had a meteoric rise. In Season 4, when it feels like one beloved character, Max Mayfield (played by break out star Sadie Sink), may be lost to an evil darkness, what saves her are the love of her friends and her favourite song, Running Up That Hill. The beautiful lyrics of the song is a perfect match to the dire situation it accompanies. The song features several times across Season 4 and captured the hearts of those who listened to it back in 1985, and those who were hearing it for the first time in 2022.

Interestingly, when Bush wrote the song, her lyrics were about the misunderstandings lovers have and exploring the idea that if they could swap places, they might have a better understanding of each other’s feelings.

For those of us who fell in love with Bush’s synth pop songs back in the 1970s and 80s, it’s no surprise that her voice has resonated with younger generations. A timeless voice paired with incredible song writing and production talents are a brilliant combination after all. Watching her original film clips, it’s easy to understand the love affair Bush felt from fans then, and now. Bush, who wanted to be a dancer in her early years, choregraphed her moves for iconic songs like Wuthering HeightsBabushka and Running Up That Hill.

In a recent and rare interview on BBC Radio 4’s Women’s Hour Podcast, Bush explained she was already  fan of Stranger Things, and of her new No.1, she said, “It’s such a great series, I thought the track might get some attention…but I never imagined that it would be anything like this. It’s so exciting. It’s quite shocking really, isn’t it? The whole world has gone mad!”

Proving that age is no barrier, the whole world has certainly gone mad for Kate Bush.

The Most Wuthering Heights Day – Canberra is taking place on 2 July at the National Portrait Gallery ACT, to raise money for the Domestic Violence Crisis Service ACT.