Thanks to the popularity of Stranger Things’ music in its fourth season and social media, Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” has climbed up to the very top of music charts around the world 37 years after the song was initially released. Bush is a longtime Stranger Things fan and sees the sudden resurgence of interest in “Running Up That Hill” as an exciting and touching testament to the power of art.
In a recent interview with BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, Bush who generally doesn’t speak to the public opened up about what it’s been like to watch a new generation turn one of her classics into a present-day hit. The experience has all felt very much like “the whole world’s gone mad.”
“What’s really wonderful, I think, is that this is a whole new audience who, in a lot of cases, they’d never heard of me,” Bush said. “And I love that these young people hearing the song for the first time and discovering it is, well, I think it’s very special.”
In the first half of Stranger Things 4, Max Mayfield (Sadie Sink) and the other Hawkins kids discover that the only thing that can keep them safe from Vecna — the latest murderous terror that’s crawled out of the Upside Down — is by listening to songs they love. In most cases, Vecna psychically stalks his victims from another dimension before pulling them to him and tearing their bodies apart, but Max is able to break free from his thrall thanks to the cassette of “Running Up That Hill” that’s lived in her Walkman all season.
Though Stranger Things has always spotlighted pop cultural touchstones that shaped the ’80s, Max’s fixation on “Running Up That Hill” is also part of the series’ exploration of how the character’s still grieving her brother Billy’s death in Season 3.
While Bush wrote “Running Up That Hill” as a love song, she said that she was touched by the way Stranger Things frames the track as a kind of emotional talisman for Max and a fitting choice for the series as its characters evolve and grow up with its actors.
“It’s lovely in a similar way to Harry Potter where in those early films that are just little kids,” Bush said. “And then as the film is progressed, it becomes heavier and darker, and those little kids turn into really talented young adult actors. You have a different connection with something that’s the moved through years, really, of watching them grow.”
“I mean, there was some great music in the ’80s, but I think it’s an incredibly exciting time we’re in now,” Bush said. “Okay, so it’s an awful time on a lot of levels for people. Very difficult. But it’s also a time when incredible things are happening. Technology is progressing at this incredible rate that’s pretty overwhelming, really. But, you know, there’s so many advances in medicine, and there are positive things. You just have to look a bit harder to find them at the moment.”