Kate Bush’s ‘Running Up That Hill’ went viral with the premiere of Stranger Things Season 4. This was unprecedented, and the internet was lit up momentarily, as if by a candle in the wind, by the discourse of all things Kate Bush related.
Bush even posted on her website, despite a generally private existence. She wrote: “You might’ve heard that the first part of the fantastic, gripping new series of ‘Stranger Things’ has recently been released on Netflix. It features the song, ‘Running Up That Hill,’” a song she states has been “given a whole new lease of life by the young fans who love the show – I love it too! Because of this, ‘Running Up That Hill‘ is charting around the world and has entered the UK chart at No. 8. It’s all really exciting!”
Her response echoes and cleverly underplays the vast beauty of the song and the tremendous talent that Kate Bush possessed. She has been known to make heart-soaring songs that are unremitting crowd-pleasers, yet she also balances the creative originality which made her songs great. ‘Running Up That Hill’ has the courage and tenacity of a Kate Bush song, so memorable you can feel it in the marrow of your bones.
Its simple power lies in its combination of drums thunder, and tremendous vocal range with a quintessential femme aesthetic. It touches on gender equality issues with the power and potency of many punk or indie/alt artists like PJ Harvey or Amanda Palmer, but with all the grace and anthemic beauty of Celine Dion or Barbara Streisand.
The viral hit evokes the duality of Bush herself: the subversive genius, bending genre conventions out of shape to spearhead a feminist agenda and the woman that made them – the lover, mother, daughter, wife, with innate feminine power.
The song has been made famous also for bringing to the mainstream gender-equality issues by posing questions: ‘’Is there so much hate for the ones we love? Tell me, we both matter, don’t we?” It is even possible to see the song provides a kind of trans-gender prayer as if trying to her body, sex, and consciousness: “Let’s exchange the experience.” ‘Running up That Hill’ classically draws upon themes of religiosity and spirituality: “If I only could, I’d make a deal with God, And I’d get him to swap our places.” In this sense, the song becomes a spiritual project: an attempt to harness her consciousness to the flesh of the song.
‘Running Up That Hill’ becomes an end in itself: a real, tangible thing and not just a means of self-expression. It has evolved a kind of untouchability, a bulletproof quality.
“She’s always marched to the beat of her own drum. She was ground-breaking – a bit like a female equivalent of Freddie Mercury.”Elton John
Comparison to male musicians is not a criticism but a testament to how ahead of her time she was. The recent week saw her go viral but reaffirmed the transcendent objective power of her songs and the sheer influence they have had – and continue to have – on the world’s music scene.