Wednesday, June 27, 2018

"Running Up That Hill" by Kate Bush

Rated 10 Alert!
Song#:  2447
Date:  09/07/1985
Debut:  95
Peak:  30
Weeks:  20
Genre:  Art Rock

Pop Bits:  UK singer/songwriter Kate Bush got an early head start in music. As she reached her teens she was already busy at the piano writing her own songs. By the age of fifteen, her parents helped Bush record a demo tape and got it circulated to labels and other music biz folks. Through a connection, the tape found its way to Pink Floyd's David Gilmour who heard something in the teenager's music. He got in contact with Bush and proceeded to help her record a more professional demo. She was sixteen when she signed a contract with EMI Records. It would be nearly two years before Bush would finally begin to record her debut album. Her first single, "Wuthering Heights," wowed UK listeners. It would reach #1 on the chart and remain there for four weeks. A second single, "The Man with the Child in His Eyes," would reach #6 and become her first song to chart in the US (#85, 1979). While she continued to have hits in the UK and Europe over the course of three more albums, her music didn't catch on in the US where she became more of a cult-ish music figure. That began to change when this first single from her fifth album Hounds of Love was released. It slowly caught on and was able to crack the Pop Top 30. It also made it to #34 Rock, #34 AC, and #17 Dance. The album sold well and also peaked at #30. It took nearly seven years, but Kate Bush finally made some inroads in the US market.

ReduxReview:  Prior to this song I had little knowledge of Kate Bush. I was slightly familiar with her due to a college roommate having one of her records (the US-only EP Kate Bush), but for some reason I didn't really pay attention or discover her music. Then this song came out. The mysterious rolling track got my attention along with Bush's voice. The way the song ebbed and flowed and built to a thundering climax was just spectacular. The production of it bowled me over as well. All it took was this song and I was hooked on Kate Bush. She quickly became (and still is) one of my all-time favorite artists and this album has been floating near the top of my list of personal favorites ever since it came out. Although CDs were beginning to gain some market share at at the time, vinyl still ruled and Hounds of Love was meant for the format. It had two distinct portions. The "a" side of the LP had five pop-oriented songs that were ready for radio. The "b" side was a concept suite titled "The Ninth Wave." It contained seven songs that flowed together and weaved a story about a person drifting alone at night in the sea. Because the production and engineering was so rich and interesting on the LP, I often would listen to it on headphones instead of through speakers and drift off to the special little worlds that Bush created. For me, Hounds of Love is a classic and is essential listening for any true fan of rock or prog rock music.


Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) When Bush wrote this song she originally titled it "A Deal with God" and she wanted it to be the first single from the album. This created a couple of issues with her label. First, they wanted another track, "Cloudbursting," to be the first single and second, they anticipated potential problems with the song's title, in particular the use of "God." Regardless of the meaning of the song, the label felt they might have a tough time trying to get a song titled as such played in more religious leaning countries. Basically, they thought the song might be banned due to its title. Bush, who was known for fighting for her artistic rights even when she was a teen, decided to compromise on the situation. She would relent and let the single be called "Running Up That Hill," however it had to be the first single. Indeed it was and she came out of it with her second biggest hit in the UK (#3) and her best showing in the US. On the album, the song carries the title "Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God)."  2) This song got an unexpected revival in 2022. It would be featured in key scenes in the fourth season of the Netflix sci-fi horror series Stranger Things. Bush's song would be a favorite of the character Max (Sadie Sink) and would be used in a crucial plot point. Since the tune was so tied to a specific event/scene, it got the attention of viewers, especially younger ones who were not familiar with it, and streaming of the song immediately increased in volumes. With chart rules changed since the time the song was first released, all it took was the millions of listens to get it back on the Pop chart. "Running Up That Hill" would finally become a Top 10 hit nearly 37 years after its release. It would peak at #3. The song's resurgence also helped Bush's album Hounds of Love, which also reached a new peak of #12.



  1. You can't get much further apart than the last two songs. From the gawd-awful Dancing In The Streets, to the stunningly beautiful Running Up That Hill. I still get chills every time I hear it. Truly a classic.

  2. Glad to see this song is now in the Top 10, should've been a Top 10 hit to begin with.

    1. Agreed. Was so happy when it got revived thanks to "Stranger Things." It was brilliantly used in the series.