How Stranger Things Got Kate Bush Back Into the World’s Hit Records Again

Picture of By Ninke Boshuizen

By Ninke Boshuizen

You might have scrolled through your TikTok For Your Page bumping into the song Running Up that Hill over and over again. Maybe someone played it at a party you were at, or you saw someone recommend the song on their Instagram stories. Since Netflix’s Stranger Things released its fourth season,  Kate Bush’s hit has been back on the world’s top charts on Spotify, iTunes and other platforms. How did this hit suddenly get so popular again? And everything more you need to know about this song you will find in this article.

Stranger Things

To start off, the song gained its popularity by appearing in a popular Netflix series called Stranger Things. This science fiction series is set in the 1980s in the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana. The series initially focuses on the investigation into the disappearance of a young boy called Will Byers amid supernatural events occurring around the town, including the appearance of a girl with psychokinetic abilities called Eleven, and their connection to an alternate reality called the Upside Down. The cast includes some popular actors such as Millie Bobby Brown, Sadie Sink and Winona Ryder. The series is known for its cast, and also stands out in its big visual effects and the way they show the imaginative world on screen. Since the series is set in the 80s they often use classic 80s songs in their episodes. But this time, the role of that one song, Running Up That Hill, is so big, that it became a worldwide hit again.

Kate Bush’s Song

Running Up that Hill has been in the hit records before. In the 80s, the song, as well as the singer Kate Bush, were massively popular. The British singer-songwriter was known for her experimental style and the way she sings in a special way. This specific song was the first single of her album Hounds of Love, released in 1985. It was the most successful of Bush’s 1980s releases, entering the UK Singles Chart at number 9 and eventually peaking at number 3, her second-highest single peak. The single also had an impact outside of the UK, in the United States, providing Bush with her first chart hit there since 1978, where it reached the top 30 on the Billboard Hot 100 and featured prominently in the dance charts. The song contains a catchy refrain that gets the message of the song across that goes like this:

If I only could, I’d make a deal with God,

And I’d get him to swap our places,

Be running up that road,

Be running up that hill,

Be running up that building.

If I only could, oh

The Song in Stranger Things’ Context

Without getting into too many spoilers, the song plays a key role in Max’s character arc in season 4, culminating in the moving climax of episode 4. The season finds our favourite skateboarding rebel played by Sadie Sink isolating herself from her friends as she reels from her brother Billy’s death at the end of season 3. In this process she is making herself vulnerable to Vecna, a mysterious figure from Upside Down who preys on teenagers that have suffered horrific tragedies and trauma in their lives. It’s an emotional storyline that feels like a natural fit for Bush’s hit song.

Why Did They Decide on Using This Song?

The question then is, why did the makers of Stranger Things decide to make this song such an important part of their season 4 story? And why did they specifically use this song?

The creators of the series, The Duffer Brothers, apparently already settled on the idea that Max’s favourite song would play a role in the plot of Stranger Things season 4. They had however not decided on which song this was going to be. In an interview with Variety, “Stranger Things” music supervisor Nora Felder talked about how she and the Duffers came up with the idea to use Running Up That Hill

As she revealed to the outlet, it fell to her to brainstorm a song that would not only be believable as Max’s favourite but also reflect the character’s internal journey in season 4. When later on she listened to this song it immediately stuck with her. The deep chords, but also the way the lyrics spoke to Max’s struggle. After the Duffer brothers agreed with the choice, they had to overcome the next obstacle;  convincing Kate Bush.

Being Able to Use The Song in Stranger Things

Luckily, gaining the rights to use this song wasn’t much of an issue. Kate Bush reportedly gave permission to Stranger Things to use her song because she’s a fan of the series. And to be fair, it is not such a bad deal to her. Since the release of the series streams of the 1980s synth-pop track had increased by 153 per cent. Not every hit from the 80s makes it back into the world’s hit rankings almost 40 years later.

With a little help from Stranger Things, there is a generation re-discovering one of their favourite songs from back in the days and a new generation playing this song for the first time. Something even people who don’t watch the show benefit from. 

Edited by: Katrien Nivera
Featured Image: Shamia Casiano

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