Though they had no idea as they were experiencing it, legions of “Stranger Things” viewers have been recently indoctrinated into a secular belief system that has already transformed millions of lives. The text that led them there? Kate Bush’s 1985 song “Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God).”
Its use throughout Season 4, most prominently in a climactic Episode 4 scene involving a Sony Walkman, a Bush “Hounds of Love” cassette and a demon, has pushed “Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God)” to the top of music streaming charts.
A national treasure in England, Bush, 63, is less known in the States. Only one of her studio albums, 1989’s “The Sensual World,” has been certified gold in the U.S.
Her followers couldn’t care less about sales, though. Among those who have cited Bush’s work as inspiration include Grimes, Solange, St. Vincent and Stevie Nicks. Perhaps most famously, Outkast’s Big Boi has long preached the gospel of Kate.
“Her songs tell stories,” Big Boi told Pitchfork in a video about his love of “Running Up That Hill.” Comparing her presence to the protagonist in “The Phantom of the Opera,” the rapper-producer said he imagined Bush “living in a big castle with a piano that was 10 times the size of a regular piano (and) playing the piano all day with sheer curtains blowing in the windows. Almost like Rapunzel but on the top of a hill somewhere.” (In fact, she lives with her husband, Danny McIntosh, and their son, Albert, in South Devon, located in Southeast England.)
Big Boi, who recently confirmed that he and Bush had recorded a song together (but that the public will hear it “whenever I think they deserve it”), called her discography “one cohesive body of work that took you on an adventure.”
Ready to further your adventure? Below, 10 more Bush songs to try.
1. ‘Wuthering Heights’ (1978)
As a precocious songwriter in the mid-1970s, Bush drew early attention from Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour, and at 19 released her first album, 1978’s “The Kick Inside.” Bush charted her first British No. 1 that same year with “Wuthering Heights,” which was the first self-written song by a woman to do so. Named for an Emily Brontë novel, “Wuthering Heights” knocked ABBA’s “Take a Chance on Me” from the No. 1 spot due in large part to Bush’s performance on the TV show “Top of the Pops.”
2. ‘Babooshka’ (1980)
“Running Up That Hill” isn’t the only Bush song to go viral of late. During the past few years, #KateBushTok has become a thing, with “Babooshka” in particular generating popular memes. Recorded for her 1980 album “Never for Ever,” “Babooshka” opens with her singing the song’s premise, about a suspicious wife who starts sending love letters under the name “Babooshka” to her husband in order to gauge his faithfulness: “She wanted to test her husband/ She knew exactly what to do/ A pseudonym to fool him/ She couldn’t have made a worst move.” The TikTok meme harnesses the song’s big reveal: “Babooshka, Babooshka, Babooshka-ya-ya – all yours!”
3. ‘The Dreaming’ (1982)
Bush had co-produced “Never for Ever,” but by then had finished, with the help of her father, building a home studio. Her fourth album, “The Dreaming,” was her first self-produced album, and the shift allowed her to experiment with technology and technique. The title track features the late Percy Edwards, a British animal impersonator. Bush wrote about the experience to her fan club members not long after the album was released. “It is so beautiful to watch him burst into birdsong in a studio in the middle of London. I had images of him waking with the dawn chorus, taking part with blackbirds, the sparrows, the thrushes.”
4. ‘Cloudbusting’ (1985)
William Reich was a psychoanalyst and inventor who claimed to have built a rain-making machine called the Cloudbuster. Bush wrote the song, from her album “Hounds of Love,” from the perspective of Reich’s son – “Every time it rains / You’re here in my head.” For the video, Bush collaborated with director and Monty Python member Terry Gilliam to build a Cloudbuster as they imagined it would look.
5. ‘Hounds of Love’ (1985)
Opening with a sampled line from the British 1957 horror movie “Night of the Demon” – “It’s in the trees! It’s coming!” – the title track from “Hounds of Love” is sequenced to follow “Running Up That Hill.” A song about wanting to fall in love, she harnesses spooky nighttime dog-packs as a metaphor for her fear. In addition to writing and producing the song, Bush directed the video, which riffs on Alfred Hitchcock’s “The 39 Steps.”
6. ‘Don’t Give Up’ (1986)
Asked about his favorite Kate Bush moment, none other than former teen idol Donny Osmond admitted to being a member of the Bush tribe – through Peter Gabriel’s 1986 song from “So.” “The title of ‘Don’t Give Up,’ Kate Bush’s duet with Peter Gabriel, let alone the lyrics, could be the mantra for every person with the desire to make it in show business,” Osmond told the British newspaper the Independent. Osmond added that as he was trying to restart his career after being a child sensation, “Don’t Give Up” “helped through those difficult years.”
7. ‘The Sensual World’ (1989)
The title track to Bush’s exquisite 1989 album is as alluring as you might hope, with references to peaches, flesh, flowers and “arrows of desire.” The entirety of “The Sensual World” album delves into longing, lust and the challenges and pursuit thereof.
8. ‘Why Should I Love You?’ (1993)
Bush invited avowed admirer Prince to sing background on “Why Should I Love You?” for her 1993 album “The Red Shoes” and she sent him the track. What he returned, somewhat presumptuously, was a totally remixed, reworked version. Bush then sprinkled her equally skilled production magic into Prince’s take and the result is a brilliant union.
9. ‘Deeper Understanding’ (2011)
For her 2011 album “Director’s Cut,” Bush returned to earlier work to reimagine and rerecord eleven songs. “Deeper Understanding” was first recorded for “The Sensual World,” and concerns a love affair between a man and his computer. “More and more people are having less contact with human beings. We spend all day with machines; all night with machines,” she said, quite portentously, in a 1989 radio interview.
10. ‘And Dream of Sheep (Live)’ (2016)
In 2014, the notably reclusive Bush returned to the stage with “Before the Dawn,” a 22-date live production at the Hammersmith Apollo in London. When filming the video for “And Dream of Sheep,” about someone lost at sea, Bush was reclined in a water tank in a production studio, according to notes accompanying the clip. “However it became more realistic than Kate had imagined. She spent so long in the water during the first day of filming that she contracted mild hypothermia. She recovered after a day off and carried on filming.”
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