'Stranger Things' Introduces a New Generation to a Kate Bush Classic

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Sunday June 5, 2022
Originally published on June 2, 2022

Max (Sadie Sink) discovers a sound that thrills on 'Stranger Things'
Max (Sadie Sink) discovers a sound that thrills on 'Stranger Things'  (Source:Netflix)

The fourth season of Netflix's "Stranger Things" has only just begun, but the show has already created legions of newly minted Kate Bush aficionados, with the British recording star's seminal 1985 track "Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God)" skyrocketing in popularity on streaming services, according to Billboard.

The track has featured on popular shows before. But in the case of "Stranger Things," it's associated with a storyline in which the character Max (Sadie Sink) comes to terms with the death of a family member.

"The song first rears its head in Episode 4 of the fourth season, replaying a handful of times as Max goes through her main arc," the Daily Beast detailed.

The song is a natural fit for the 1980s-themed show, which also uses music from other acts popular in that decade, but audiences in 2022 took to it instantly.

Netflix itself took note of how the vintage song got a fresh polish from its use in the episode.

But Kate Bush fans, who celebrate Bush's July 30 birthday as "Katemas," can be a peculiar and persnickety bunch — and some longtime fans took umbrage at the thought that one of the singer-songwriter's most famous works would become associated with the fantasy series, rather than with Bush's catalog as a whole.

One fan took to Twitter to warn: "If y'all start calling Kate Bush's music the stranger things songs I'm gonna kill you"

Another fan referenced several of Bush's other hit singles in a tweet that read, "Kate Bush did not go through wuthering heights, run all the way up that hill to make a deal with god & shout babooshka for y'all to be finding out about her in 2022!"

Ironically, some of those (at this point) longstanding fans discovered the song themselves only when it was used in popular shows years ago.

But others offered a different perspective; that more appreciation for Kate Bush's work can only be a good thing, even if it comes by way of, well, "Stranger Things."

Discovered by Pink Floyd member and family friend David Gilmour in the 1970s when she was still a teenager, Bush astonished the music industry with her smash hit first single, "Wuthering Heights," from her debut album "The Kick Inside" in 1979. The hits kept coming after that auspicious debut, with each album growing more musically and thematically complex. "Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God)" was the lead single for Bush's most successful work, 1985's "The Hounds of Love."

"Upon its 1985 release, 'Running Up That Hill' became the highest-charting Hot 100 single of Bush's career, reaching No. 30 on the tally," Billboard recalled. "The song has been covered numerous times since its release, including a Placebo version in 2003 that was synched on 'The O.C.,' and a Meg Myers version in 2019 that topped Billboard's Alternative Airplay chart."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.