Kate Bush reaches UK No 1 with Running Up That Hill after 37 years

Singer breaks multiple records with Stranger Things-revived hit after ‘manual reset’ of streaming ratios

Kate Bush has scored an improbable and inspiring No 1 in the UK singles chart, with Running Up That Hill reaching the top 37 years after the song was released.

The 1985 track has stormed domestic and global charts after its inclusion in the hit Netflix series Stranger Things last month, introducing it to a new generation of fans.

Bush has broken three UK chart records with her No 1 placing. She is the oldest woman to top the chart, while 37 years is the longest time a song has taken to get to No 1, beating Wham!, whose Last Christmas finally made it in January 2021.

Bush also has the longest gap between No 1 singles, with 44 years elapsed since her debut, Wuthering Heights (Tom Jones was the previous record holder at 42 years). Running Up That Hill reached No 3 when it was originally released.

“It’s hard to take in the speed at which this has all been happening,” Bush, 63, said in a statement on her website earlier this week. “So many young people who love the show [are] discovering the song for the first time.

“The response to Running Up That Hill is something that has had its own energy and volition. A direct relationship between the shows and their audience and one that has stood completely outside of the music business. We’ve all been astounded to watch the track explode!” The song is currently at No 4 in the US, her highest-ever placing there.

The UK chart success of Running Up That Hill – currently achieving about 575,000 plays a day on Spotify in the UK and more than 6m a day on the platform globally – was aided by the waiver last weekend of a rule that determines how streams for older songs are tallied, sparking speculation that Bush has opened the gates for more vintage songs to return.

“Running Up That Hill has itself changed things as we know it,” pop chart analyst James Masterton told the Guardian. “This is the first time in the streaming era that a back-catalogue track has not only been spontaneously resurrected but has maintained its popularity over an extended period.”

While football anthem Three Lions hit No 1 again during 2018’s European Championship, “it was gone from our lives a week later as a passing fad”, Masterton added.

“The Kate Bush song has become a genuine sustained smash hit, and for that reason it is appropriate that the rules are waived so it joins contemporary releases on a level playing field. That’s the true game-changer, as it lays down a precedent for other classics to do the same if circumstances merit.”

The “accelerated decline” rule that applies to older songs was introduced in 2017. With the evolution of streaming – and following a seemingly endless 15-week run at No 1 for Drake in 2016 – measures were put in place to help new tracks get their moment of glory in the charts. So while a new song earns one “sale” for every 100 streams, older songs need to be streamed 200 times before a single “sale” is counted.

Were it not for this, songs such as the Killers’ Mr Brightside – released in 2003 – would still be in the Top 40, and Ed Sheeran’s Bad Habits would be in the Top 10 for its 47th week.

But the scales shifted last weekend when Bush’s record label EMI requested a “manual reset” of streaming ratios, which is available “in exceptional circumstances, where a track is being scheduled for promotion”. Thereafter, her streams immediately doubled in value, allowing her to soar past Harry Styles’ As It Was, which ends its 10-week run at No 1.

Martin Talbot, the chief executive of the Official Charts Company, emphasised that the rules had not changed. “Kate Bush’s Running Up That Hill has simply been manually reset this week, a process that is available to all artists and used often by record labels during fresh campaign periods and surges of this nature,” he said.

Bush’s success could make labels fight harder to get archive tracks placed in popular shows in an attempt to replicate this moment, according to former NME editor and founder of the Forty-Five, Charlotte Gunn.

“Kate Bush is beloved, as is Stranger Things. Fans were rooting for her to get that No 1 because it’s a heartwarming story,” she said.

Sign up to First Edition, our free daily newsletter – every weekday morning at 7am BST

“But even if more labels did start to request the reset, I can’t see us moving to a permanent change that would see the charts flooded with older tracks. I think everybody involved agrees that broadly speaking, the charts should be for new releases and those governing it would be incredibly wary of any permanent change that would see the Beatles in the top 10 every week.”

Bush, Gunn added, managed to reach No 2 last week without the reset, because it is a standout example. “It shows the power of a popular show to reach a global audience and how pivotal the soundtrack is in creating that popularity.”

Only four other artists have reached No 1 at a later age than Bush. Captain Sir Tom Moore is the oldest, at 99 years and 11 months, with his credited appearance on a 2020 cover of You’ll Never Walk Alone. Elton John at 74, Tom Jones at 68, and Louis Armstrong at 66 round out the list.

Additional reporting by Ben Beaumont-Thomas


Nadia Khomami Arts and culture correspondent

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
‘The whole world’s gone mad!’ Kate Bush on Running Up That Hill’s success
Singer says she hadn’t listened to her song ‘for a really long time’ before it raced up the charts thanks to its inclusion in Stranger Things

Ben Beaumont-Thomas

22, Jun, 2022 @9:30 AM

Article image
Kate Bush’s Running Up That Hill races back into UK Top 10 thanks to Stranger Things
Hit from 1985 is the most streamed song in the UK and US on Spotify, earning itself a third appearance in the UK Top 10

Ben Beaumont-Thomas

03, Jun, 2022 @5:00 PM

Article image
Kate Bush earns first ever US Top 10 hit with Running Up That Hill
Song reaches No 8 in the US 37 years after it was first released, thanks to inclusion in new season of Stranger Things

Ben Beaumont-Thomas

07, Jun, 2022 @8:38 AM

Article image
Kate Bush hits it off with a new generation of fans | Letters
Letter: Diane Silva is glad that classic songs are getting their due share of success and new fans


20, Jun, 2022 @3:38 PM

Article image
Kate Bush’s Running Up That Hill climbs higher than ever to No 2 in charts
Harry Styles remains atop the singles and album charts, while singer-songwriter Michael Head gets first Top 10 of storied career

Ben Beaumont-Thomas

10, Jun, 2022 @5:00 PM

Article image
Kate Bush thanks Stranger Things fans as Running Up That Hill climbs charts
The singer celebrated the ‘fantastic, gripping’ show in a rare statement, after her 37-year-old song, which features on the soundtrack, entered the UK top ten

Sian Cain

06, Jun, 2022 @1:52 AM

Article image
The 100 greatest UK No 1s: No 14, Kate Bush – Wuthering Heights
Written when Bush was 18 years old, this eerie gothic tale of lost love and longing cemented her individuality from the very beginning

Rebecca Nicholson

19, May, 2020 @8:00 AM

Article image
Kate Bush clarifies political stance: 'I am not a Tory supporter'
Singer expressed support for Theresa May in 2016 but says she was simply celebrating a woman in power

Ben Beaumont-Thomas Music editor

08, Jan, 2019 @7:23 PM

Article image
Mariah Carey's All I Want for Christmas Is You reaches UK No 1 after 26 years
Festive favourite that reached No 2 in 1994 finally tops British chart, with Carey saying ‘we are keeping the Christmas spirit alive together despite how dismal the year’s been’

Ben Beaumont-Thomas

11, Dec, 2020 @6:00 PM

Article image
Kate Bush to publish book of lyrics, introduced by David Mitchell
How to Be Invisible, a collection of lyrics from across the singer’s 40-year career, will be published in December by Faber

Laura Snapes

10, Sep, 2018 @9:50 AM