Running Up That Hill charted at UK Number 1 after appearing in Stranger Things Season 4
BY ELEANOR NOYCE, IMAGES VIA ITUNES/NETFLIX
For the first time in over thirty-five years, Kate Bush’s seminal track Running Up That Hill – taken from 1985 LP Hounds of Love – has charted in the UK Top 10. On 12 June, it was confirmed that Kate’s track had ended Harry Styles’ ten-week tenure at number one, rendering it her first number one since Wuthering Heights was released in 1978.
Teenagers across the world are now discovering her magic for the first time, with the track experiencing a rapid increase in Spotify streams since it featured in cult Netflix series Stranger Things. With Season 4 premiering in May 2022, this season’s storyline features a much-darker hook as teenagers across Hawkins perish in eerily similar circumstances. The gang quickly decipher this as the work of demon of the upside-down, Vecna, finding that the only way for an infected victim to fight off this fate is to play their favourite song. This is where Kate Bush comes in.
After eternally beloved Max Mayfield finds that she has been cursed by Vecna, experiencing headaches, jarring nightmares and haunting visions, she dazes into a trance and rises six feet into the air one afternoon. Recognising this as Vecna’s murder method, the gang scramble for her Walkman. “What’s her favourite song?” they scream at Lucas, Max’s ex-boyfriend. With his hand landing upon the bluish hue of the Hounds of Love cassette, Running Up That Hill quickly comes blaring through Max’s ears. Caught in an eerily realistic, trance-like dream, Max escapes Vecna’s chokehold and sprints through the upside-down, dodging falling boulders and debris alike, moving towards the white, cloud-esque image of real like. Seeing herself floating above her best friends, she flashes back on all the happy memories she’s enjoyed with her friends and family alike. Tumbling through the vision back into real life, Kate Bush quite literally saved Max’s life. What a beautiful metaphor that is.
Kate Bush is the ultimate queer icon. Her music has always been a home for misfits, though Running Up That Hill is arguably her most mainstream, tame track. Wearing an armour-like costume for the Babooshka music video and red dress for Wuthering Heights, she has relied on costume and dance alike to express herself. With a multi-dimensional approach to creativity, her music isn’t just a collection of notes: it’s an experience. Drawing heavily on techniques employed by visionary mime artist Lindsay Kemp – who personally taught her – Kate Bush has always used her body and her dance routines to express emotion, and to tell a story. The video for Running Up That Hill is deeply symbolic of that fact, pairing with dancer Michael Hervieu to create an intricate, storyboard-like performance that was vastly ahead of its time, playing on Bush’s background in ballet.
Creative aesthetic aside, Kate Bush famously sang about anal sex in 1979 track Wow, which featured on her second album Lionheart. Singing about an actor who will never be a “movie queen” because he’s “too busy hitting the Vaseline”, in the video, she winked and patted her bum to ensure that her message of allyship was truly disseminated. What an icon. And, of course, the music video was censored by the BBC, which is always a good sign of a forward-thinking bit of art. Think Frankie Goes To Hollywood.
All in all, Kate Bush’s music has been a critical source of comfort and, by extension, an expression of identity for LGBTQI people for decades now. Ginny Lemon lovingly referenced her by dragging up as the Wuthering Heights-esque young Kate on Drag Race UK for the gay icon category. And that very sentiment is true: Kate Bush is the ultimate queer icon, and forever will we applaud her for her deeply unique, kooky ways of being. Music wouldn’t be the same without her.
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