Back to the Future with Kate Bush and “Stranger Things”

Several ingredients contribute to making a song a hit: its melody, its contagious chorus, its catchy rhythm, the voice of its interpreter or even a slogan in the lyrics. There is also an absolutely crucial extra-musical factor: a hit must know how to create the buzz around it, an unexpected, improbable situation, or at least come out at the right time.

This year, few songs have met all these conditions as well as Running Up That Hillthe thirty-seven-year-old pop-art single from British singer-songwriter Kate Bush.

The song owes its resurrection and newfound popularity to its use in one of the emotionally charged scenes from the fourth season of Stranger Things. A whole new audience took to it and the single stormed the charts. In early June, it became the most played song on Spotify worldwide, leaving behind pop stars like Harry Styles and Bad Bunny.

So so far, it looks like one of the biggest hits of 2022 is an emotional song from 1985 about the relationship between a man and a woman who could understand each other better if they could put each other on. in their partner’s shoes. Kate Bush sings there that “If only I could, I would make a deal with God and persuade him to trade our places”. This haunting refrain, which only connoisseurs growing up in the 1980s remembered until recently, is suddenly hummed by these same people with their children.

The obsession with novelty broken

Running Up That Hill isn’t the first example this year of a vintage song that wasn’t originally destined to become a commercial hit. The last episode of Batman brought up to date the fragile Something in the Way from Nirvana (1991), and other older hits are also thriving in viral videos on TikTok.

Popular music in 2022 thus breaks with one of the habits that has accompanied it since its beginnings: the obsession with novelty. The success of Running Up That Hill upended the established notion that a song has to be new to break into the charts. Stranger Things with Kate Bush showed that it is enough that this song is adapted to its time, to its context, and arouses emotions in the public. His age no longer matters.

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