Like “Stranger Things” by Kate Bush # 1 on iTunes

Last week, I logged into Slack with a confession: I just cried watching the last season of Stranger Things, during a scene involving Sadie Sink, a tentacle monster, and a Kate Bush song. A co-worker who hadn’t seen the new episodes yet asked which song before immediately answering his own question. “Running That Hill?” Yes! Another added, “I feel like every Kate Bush song would be good music to run away from a monster to avoid the Upside Down.”

We are, respectively, a gay man and two women all born in the 1980s, and it is a testament to Bush’s enduring spell on a certain segment of our generation that we could quickly identify what a Bush song should note even the most esoteric Mad Lib. What’s perhaps more surprising is that almost 37 years after “Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)” peaked at 30 on the Billboard Hot 100, Gen Z would launch it back on the charts — and on number 1. The song . , which was the first single from Bush’s acclaimed 1985 album Hounds of Love, is currently the main track on iTunes in the US, UK and Canada, beating the likes of Lady Gaga, Harry Styles, and Lizzo. To date, it is the leading song in the United States on Spotify and the second song worldwide. It is also ranked number 191 (not counting remixes) at TikTok, which may not sound so high, but it was at 761 before. Stranger Things dropped new episodes the weekend.

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Twitter, being Twitter, initially exploded into a whole generation of warfare, with side-splitting, skinny jeans-wearing, avocado-roasting-loving Millennials turning a blind eye to how Gen Z. only discovered Kate Bush. But Kate Bush, being Kate Bush, can only inspire togetherness. The world is her covetousness, and there is plenty of room for more people to appreciate her enchanting tricks.

We asked Nora Felder, the show’s music supervisor, how the song became the defining anthem of the season. “[Show creators] Matt and Ross Duffer asked me to help brainstorm Max’s special song, ”she says.“ When I landed on ‘Running Up That Hill’, it immediately struck me. I felt that [its] touchingly expressed themes and a powerful melodic flow could fit in especially well with Max’s story. ”

Sink plays Max, a gravedigger who finds her people among the Hawkins children only to be emotionally scarred when her stepbrother Billy dies at the hands of a monster they call the Mind Flayer. (Honors for season four onwards.) She spends the first four episodes of the new season withdrawn, hiding her PTSD from her friends. This makes her vulnerable to the “big bad” series, a creature they call Vecna ​​who possesses and kills people by eating away at their pain, isolation, and insecurity. (That’s where those tentacles come into play.) In the real world, Max goes into a trance; meanwhile, her psyche is trapped in an otherworldly realm, the Upside Down, on the verge of being killed by Vecna. That is, until her friends open a small escape hatch for her by blowing up her favorite song through a walkman. The song, “Running Up That Hill,” becomes her talisman for the rest of the season, always faintly hovering through her headphones on a loop.

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Bush’s song was originally written as a plea for empathy so that men could better understand women stepping into their shoes: “If only I could, I would make a covenant with God, and I would make Him exchange our places.” she sounds. But in this scene, it’s Max’s friends – three teenage boys, one of whom, Lucas, pressures her hard – trying to get her to see things his way. When Bush first sang the words “Be running up that road, run up that hill, no problem,” she imagined a romance freed from pain and powered by true mutual understanding. Over the exciting beat and rising synthesizers, it’s easy to hear those lyrics and imagine that it’s Bush specifically who is released in the bargain; she discarded the burdens and traumas that men put on women’s backs. But when Max runs towards her friends to those same lyrics, she is kept up by the support that those quiet but loving boys send her way from the other side of reality.

When I present that interpretation to Felder, she approves. “The song does capture the emotional disconnect between Max and Lucas and her friends. It’s the spiritual power of love that allows us to change places and step into the shoes of those who matter to us,” she says. run up those hills in life. ”

Bush’s music has been the special sauce for many musics over the decades, often undermining what’s on screen or taking on new meanings. What makes her music magical is that it is so thematically rich and universally influential that even when she highlights the intentions she had while writing a song, it still appears to us as an emotional Rubik’s Cube. You can spend hours turning it this way or that way, confusing about the moods it evokes.

Take for example when “Running Up That Hill” was deployed in the FX’s series premiere Well. It won the doomed romance between a button-down corporate guy of the ’80s and the amazing transgender sex worker who cheats on him. (John works for someone else, Donald J. Trump.) When they kiss the song playing over a car radio, they agree that it will be their song. Cut to the next scene, and he forcibly brushes his teeth to remove her taste from his mouth before joining his wife in bed. Still the song plays again as they reunite in the closing scene of the episode. It’s their song, an ode to a painfully optimistic fantasy. It’s also a ruse they pulled on each other.

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Or consider when “This Woman’s Work” opened the second season of Hulu The Tale of the Maid. The show took a song full of glowing chords and a quiet song, written for a John Hughes film, and played it over the terrifying image of 45 tied up and muzzled maids being fitted with loops on hangers. In Hughes’s 1988 romance comedy She Has a Baby, “This Woman’s Work” wins a scene in which Kevin Bacon’s character waits for his wife, played by Elizabeth Montgomery, to come out of the complicated delivery of their first child. Bush wrote the lyrics from a man’s point of view as he reflected on his love and longing for a wife in the midst of her “woman’s work” – that is, childbirth: “I stand outside this woman’s work, this woman’s world “, she. sing. “Oh, it’s hard for the man, now his part is over.” In Maid’s storyframed in dystopia — and not too unimaginable– A future where reproductive rights are a beginning and women are property, the song is played to tearing irony. Versions of the song played inside all of Love & Basketball al It’s always sunny inside Philadelphia.

That a new generation could find the song and catapult it to new heights shows the power of both Bush’s music and Stranger Things. “Running Up That Hill” has been interpreted as many things over the years – an ode to understanding, an effort to spirituality, a song of mourning and longing. Now it has become an anthem to friendship and chosen families, whether that is rooted in the nostalgia of growing up in the 80s or in the necessary fellowship-against-affliction of a new generation facing a myriad of crises. Anyway, Kate Bush has us covered. “That’s the power of a great song,” says music supervisor Felder, “tied with a great story.”

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