Kate Bush has spoken about the “extraordinary” response to her song Running Up That Hill, which has returned to the top of the charts after featuring in the latest season of the Netflix show Stranger Things, and revealed that she dropped the song’s original title, A Deal with God, because her record company was worried it wouldn’t get played on radio.
“It’s just extraordinary. It’s such a great series,” she told the Woman’s Hour programme on BBC Radio 4 this morning. “I thought the track would get some attention. I never imagined it would be anything like this. It’s quite shocking, really. The whole world’s gone mad.”
Running Up That Hill peaked at number four in the Irish charts and at number three in the UK charts on its release in August 1985. But, in the wake of Stranger Things, it has become a hit all over again, reaching number one in Ireland and the UK and giving Bush her first hit in the American top 10. It has also inspired thousands of videos on the social-media platform TikTok.
“It’s really wonderful,” the singer, who is now 63, told Emma Barnett on Woman’s Hour. “This is a whole new audience. In a lot of cases they’d never heard of me. The thought of all the young people hearing the song for the first time… It’s very special.”
Stranger Things, a supernatural series set in the 1980s, is inspired by Steven Spielberg movies such as ET, as well as by Stephen King novels, movies such as Goonies and the role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons. This season the character Max is rescued from an interdimensional monster by her friends playing Running Up That Hill, her favourite song. This has been interpreted as a metaphor for depression — and for the way music can provide a lifeline in dark times.
Bush told the BBC that she preferred that audiences take their own meaning from her music. But she explained that Running Up That Hill was inspired by the idea of a man and woman swapping places, so that they could see the world from one another’s perspective. “It was called A Deal with God,” she said. “The record company was worried it wouldn’t get played on radio. People would feel it was a sensitive title.”
Bush revealed that she is a fan of Stranger Things and has been impressed by the way its creators, the Duffer brothers, incorporated Running Up That Hill into the season. The final two episodes debut on July 1st — and Running Up That Hill features prominently in a trailer released this week.
“They have put it in a very special place,” Bush said. “Music is very special. It has a way of touching people… Our friends kept saying, ‘Have you seen Stranger Things?’ Eventually, okay — let’s just watch it. We binged it and saw every series since.”
Asked what her son, Bertie, who is in his early 20s, thought about his mother becoming an icon for the TikTok generation, Bush laughed. “He thinks it’s pretty cool,” she replied.