The strangest thing? Why Kate Bush is back at the top of the charts

Thanks to the Netflix show Stranger Things, the 80s classic Running Up That Hill has found a new audience. And it’s not the only 40-year-old hit the show could revive

Kate Bush scoring an unexpected smash hit with a 37-year old song? Stranger things, if you can excuse the pun, have happened, but not many. Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God), which initially reached No 3 in the UK in 1985, has suddenly soared to the top of the UK and US iTunes charts after featuring in the Netflix series Stranger Things. It has also rocketed to no 4 in the the Spotify Top 200 chart – after a 153% increase in streams – and the Stranger Things effect means it is now the artist’s most-streamed track, toppling the hallowed Wuthering Heights.

Stranger Things – a supernatural/sci-fi horror set in the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana, in the 1980s – is a particular smash with the Generation Z of 10 to 25-year-olds, and so is exposing our vulnerable youth to all manner of audio and visual nostalgia, from period pop to mullet haircuts.

Running Up That Hill – from Bush’s classic album, Hounds Of Love – debuted in the first episode of season four. It plays on the Walkman of one character, and reappears in other key scenes. Running Up The Hill’s lyrics – “If only I could make a deal with God, I’d get him to swap our places” – are apposite and illustrate the power of music as a therapeutic reviving force.

This is not the first time an old tune has enjoyed a surprise Indian summer after featuring in Stranger Things. Limahl’s theme tune for The NeverEnding Story enjoyed an 800% boost in YouTube searches after appearing in season three, upon which the former Kajagoogoo frontman told Entertainment Weekly that he was “very touched” by its resurgence.

Could other songs appearing in season four enjoy some of that Stranger Things effect? Keep your eyes on Dead Or Alive’s You Spin Me Round (Like A Record), Talking Heads’ Psycho Killer, Musical Youth’s Pass The Dutchie and the Cramps’ wonderfully titled cult classic, I Was a Teenage Werewolf to find out.

• This article was amended on 31 May 2022 to remove plot spoilers relating to season four of Stranger Things


Dave Simpson

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
‘Ooh, yeah, you’re amazing!’ The wonder of Kate Bush – and 10 tracks to delight new listeners
Thanks to Netflix’s Stranger Things, the 1985 classic Running Up That Hill is in the charts again, and a new generation are discovering the singer’s unique appeal

Alexis Petridis

07, Jun, 2022 @5:00 AM

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 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
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
‘Golden age of TV’ gives boost to music industry
Proliferation of hit TV has led fans to stream soundtracks of their favourite Netflix and Amazon Prime shows

Haroon Siddique

18, Oct, 2019 @11:37 AM

Article image
Theresa May, it's me, Kate Bush – your biggest fan
The singer thinks the prime minister is ‘wonderful’ and ‘the best thing that’s happened to us’. Well, she’s always been full of surprises …

29, Nov, 2016 @11:28 AM

Article image
Kate Bush: definitely not a Tory – whatever Boris Johnson says
The prime minister says the pop star stirred his teenage emotions, while Bush herself has praised Theresa May. But this love-in is not a sign of the singer’s political allegiances

04, Mar, 2020 @2:46 PM

Article image
Paul McCartney and Kate Bush lead call for change to music streaming payments
Open letter to Boris Johnson signed by 156 musicians including Led Zeppelin and Annie Lennox aims to reword 1988 Copyright Act

Ben Beaumont-Thomas

20, Apr, 2021 @1:25 PM

Article image
That syncing feeling: how Stranger Things supercharged the music industry
The chart success of first Kate Bush and now Metallica thanks to ‘syncs’ in Stranger Things shows how TV shows and TikTok are increasingly crucial for heritage acts

Eamonn Forde

12, Jul, 2022 @9:39 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