Stranger Things’ homage to Kate Bush‘s “Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)” is one of the most beautiful uses of a song in a TV show ever and that is a hill (lol) I will die on. What I don’t agree with though, is the weird gatekeeping from older fans of her music.
If you haven’t seen episode four of Stranger Things season four yet, trust me: it’s a spiritual experience. Initially I wasn’t really sold on the new season — it was lacking the focus on those magical, ride-or-die friendships you really only experience as a teenager/kid which I felt was the core of the show.
But then, that scene aired: Max (Sadie Sink) in death’s clutches, trapped in the upside down, alone and sobbing while her friends desperately, futilely called for her from the other side. Suddenly, finally, they get through to her — by playing her favourite song, “Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)”. Kate Bush’s voice becomes more salient than Max’s fear as she sees them, a portal, a way out. She claws her way to them, and as the music swells, so does something else — HOPE.
The desperation gives way to something more, as her feet find their place, her legs move faster, her arms stretch open, her eyes widen as she realises she might actually have a chance. As the song grows into an orchestral crescendo, she is both literally and metaphorically running up a hill to the only thing that keeps her tethered to life — her friends.
I literally cannot stop thinking about the ending of Stranger Things 4 episode 4… the pacing, the visual effects, the orchestral version of Running Up That Hill by Kate Bush, the acting… Sadie Sink you will ALWAYS be famous https://t.co/BOAwNAlsOk
— søcks (@thegoodwar) May 28, 2022
I’m not much of a crier in movies but was I a sobbing mess during this scene? Yes I was. And now Kate Bush’s iconic song will forever be linked in my brain with the intense emotions we experienced in that moment.
Naturally, the scene has led to a resurgence in streams of Kate Bush’s music as younger fans discover her songs for the first time.
I knew of Kate Bush from my Tumblr days, when every gothic 14-year-old had “Wuthering Heights” as the autoplay song to their black and white blog. She’s an icon now, then and forever but obviously there are heaps of young people who don’t know her. Makes sense considering she was releasing her most iconic music decades before many of us were born.
You’d think Kate Bush fans would be excited at the prospect of their fave artist being appreciated by a new generation. I’m sure many are, but of course the gate-keepers have emerged proudly.
So people are finding out who Kate Bush is thru….stranger things pic.twitter.com/cqJqMn6j0S
— 💫 (@heyjaeee) May 29, 2022
If y’all start calling Kate Bush’s music the stranger things songs I’m gonna kill you
— Evan (@_evanbaranowski) May 27, 2022
Snobby “I knew Kate Bush before she was popular” or “I’m not like other girls” fans have turned their nose up at the thought of Kate Bush being discovered through Stranger Things. But all I can think is: isn’t the point of music to share it?
I understand gate-keeping when it’s in terms of class and race, when a song’s themes or an artist’s story were never meant for widespread consumption. I get why, for example, some Black music is gate-kept because other more privileged people will never understand what it’s truly about.
“Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)”, though, is about a man and a woman who are in love with each other but don’t understand each other — so they ask God to make them swap bodies so they can see the world from each other’s perspective. Longing, desperation, and empathy are pretty universal themes if you ask me, and maybe if the song’s meaning was butchered I’d understand the condescending comments — but it wasn’t.
One thing Stranger Things gets absolutely right is the life saving power of Kate Bush’s Running Up That Hill
— Maria Dieters ☘️ (@mariadieters) May 29, 2022
Sharing music should be about sharing experiences, specific visceral feelings that certain songs bring out in you. It’s beautiful and communal and connects us more deeply to one another.
Kate Bush being back in the limelight is a good thing, no matter what propelled her music into the public’s eye again. And even then, I think Stranger Things added more depth to her song, elevating it to another intensity because of the pivotal scene it’s now linked to.
[millennial who first discovered kate bush by hearing placebo’s “running up that hill” cover in an episode of ‘bones’]
fucked up kids are finally finding out about kate bush through stranger things
— josh terry (@JoshhTerry) May 31, 2022
And at the end of the day, who cares if people are only just discovering Kate Bush. Is there an expiration date on when you’re allowed to discover music?
To people who want to gate-keep music for the simple feat of finding it first, honestly, sit down. Let people enjoy things, damn it.