Here’s what I remember about Kate Bush as a teen back in the ’80s. She definitely stood out as an individual and an artist that was not interested in following the trends. Kate Bush had her own sound, a and softly stirring voice. She thoughtfully crafted her music that stood out in the trendy 1980s, and it still stands the test of time. There was strength and vulnerability in her songs, She was beautiful, graceful, captivating, and unique.
Now a whole new world is discovering Kate Bush, as her song, “Running Up That Hill” was picked-up by the Netflix drama, “Stranger Things.” It’s a song and mood that connects strongly with viewers of her era, now sitting in front of the TV alongside their children, hearing a song from long ago that conjures memories of their own youth that still sounds earnest, fresh and magical.
“Running Up That Hill” is a song by the English singer-songwriter Kate Bush. It was the first single from her 1985 album Hounds of Love, released in the United Kingdom on 5 August 1985. It was her first 12-inch single. 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 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. Bush also performed the song live for the first time with David Gilmour of Pink Floyd of at the Secret Policeman’s Third Ball in 1987. The song’s title for Hounds of Love and all subsequent releases was “Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God)”.
The song has been critically acclaimed. In a retrospective review of the single, AllMusic journalist Amy Hanson wrote: “Always adept at emotion and beautifully able to manipulate even the most bitter of hearts, rarely has Bush penned such a brutally truthful, painfully sensual song.”
In 2012 a remix, featuring newly recorded vocals, premiered during that years Summer Olympics closing ceremony. The original version of the song was featured as the main theme tune for the 1986 BBC 1 children’s drama serial Running Scared and in 2022 on season 4 of Stranger Things, the latter leading to the song’s resurgence on song charts.
The “Running Up That Hill” music video featured Bush performing an interpretive dance with dancer Michael Hervieu. The video was directed by David Garfath while the dance routines were choreographed by Diane Grey. Kate Bush and Hervieu are shown wearing grey Japanese hakamas. Bush wanted the dancing in “Running Up That Hill” to be more of a classical performance. She stated that dance in music videos was “being used quite trivially, it was being exploited: haphazard images, busy, lots of dances, without really the serious expression, and wonderful expression, that dance can give. So we felt how interesting it would be to make a very simple routine between two people, almost classic, and very simply filmed. So that’s what we tried, really, to do a serious piece of dance.”
The choreography draws upon contemporary dance with a repeated gesture suggestive of drawing a bow and arrow (the gesture was made literal on the cover for the single in which Bush poses with a real bow and arrow), intercut with surreal sequences of Bush and Hervieu searching through crowds of masked strangers. At the climax of the song, Bush’s partner withdraws from her and the two are then swept away from each other and down a long hall in opposite directions by an endless stream of anonymous figures wearing masks made from pictures of Bush and Hervieu’s faces. MTV chose not to show this video (at the time of its original release) and instead used a playback “live” performance of the song recorded at a promotional appearance on the BBC TV show Wogan. According to Paddy Bush, “MTV weren’t particularly interested in broadcasting videos that didn’t have synchronized lip movements in them. They liked the idea of people singing songs.”