Kate Bush is a genius.
Her originality is unsurpassed, even if her sound is not for everyone. I’ve been a fan of her since I was little and anyone who knows me knows that. So much so that Running up That Hill was my most streamed song on Spotify in 2019, and it is the same case, year after year.
Because of Stranger Things, the song – once again – gained prominence. It is undoubtedly the biggest success of the singer who has classics such as This Woman’s Work and Wuthering Heights, among others. Her debut album, at age 19, The Kick Inside is one of the most influential for major female music stars, but it was 1985’s Hounds of Love that broke the United States. Her fifth album, at the time, was considered extremely experimental – by an artist who is the most experimental of all – recorded in her own studio in her home shed. Artistic control has always been essential to her and her sound, with electronic equipment such as a sampler (which was not yet common) and double beats unparalleled.
If Kate Bush was different in music, she was even more unique in her videos. In 1985, MTV was the main outlet and the videos told stories. Not for her. A professional modern dancer, Kate has always used curious choreography in her performances (Wuthering Heights is still imitated today), and – for Running Up That Hill – the artist did not want to “sing”, but to express her message through dance.
When she wrote Running Up that Hill, Kate dubbed it “A Deal with God”, but the record company feared that mentioning God in a song would get in the way and so ended up eliminating the mention, something that angered the singer. It is a prayer of a woman who wanted to make a deal with God to change places with a man. “It’s about a relationship between a man and a woman. They love each other very much, and the power of the relationship is something that gets in the way. It creates insecurities. It’s saying if the man could be the woman and the woman the man, if they could make a deal with God, switch places, that they understand what it’s like to be the other person and maybe clear up misunderstandings, you know, all the little problems, there would be no problem,” she explained at the time.
It was at Kate’s own insistence that this was the album’s first single, once again going against the label. Re-recorded by celebrities such as Placebo and used at the opening of the Olympics, the song appeared in series and movies, always prominently. Now including Stranger Things.
“I saw some videos on television that other people were doing and I felt that dance, something that we were working on, especially in the previous videos, was being used in a very trivial way, it was being explored: random images, moving, a lot of dancing, without really the serious and wonderful expression that dancing can give,” Kate explained at the time of her video. “So we felt how interesting it would be to do a very simple routine between two people, almost classic, and very simply filmed. So that’s what we really tried to do a serious dance.”
MTV did not like the idea and preferred to show a clip of the live version of Kate on stage as a video. today it’s the other way around, it’s the video she thought up that is the most classic.
Running Up that Hill also appears in:
Big Little Lies
How To Get Away With Murder
NCIS: Los Angeles
The Vampire Diaries
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
The Human Contract
The Chocolate War
The Handmaid’s Tale