9 songs to bop to if you’re now obsessed with Kate Bush
Stranger Things has given Running Up That Hill a new lease of life – here’s a list of musicians, new and classic, that live the Bush legacy
image Kate Bush in the Running Up That Hill music video
words Louis Staples
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll know that the first part of season 4 of Stranger Things has taken over Netflix and social media. One unexpected side-effect has been a new generation of music fans discovering British music icon Kate Bush for the first time. Bush’s most famous song, Running Up That Hill, was heavily featured at a pivotal moment in the show (no spoilers here!).
Bush has thanked fans of the show after her 1985 hit re-entered the charts on both sides of the Atlantic. Much to the horror of older music fans, it turns out there’s a generation who have never heard of Bush (I mean, why would they? And it’s not like Boomers have heard of every teenage musician, is it?). Plus, a lot of millennials actually discovered Running Up That Hill when Placebo’s cover of the song was featured on California teen drama The OC. (It was a moment).
Given that Woo is an anti-gatekeeping zone, we think it’s time to share more bops for fans of Stranger Things to listen to if they want to discover more artists who are inspired by Bush. Some of them are obvious, but now they can be listened to in an entirely new light, with more knowledge of their stylistic origins.
Behold, the legacy of Kate Bush.
Bat for Lashes - Daniel
Bat for Lashes, real name Natasha Khan, has long been compared to Kate Bush. Her critically acclaimed second album Two Sums drew direct comparisons, with Rolling Stone writing: “Khan proves she's a powerhouse under her billowy sleeves. She could be the next Kate Bush.” Daniel, the album’s lead single, is Khan’s biggest-selling song to date. It’s both synthy and mystical-sounding. Filled with poetic lyrics about “marble movie skies” and “the smell of cinders and rain,” the track could almost pass for a Bush song. In fact, ranking the song the fourth best single of 2009, Pitchfork said Daniel was “her Running Up That Hill”.
Björk - It’s Oh So Quiet
Bush was the first woman to secure a number one with a song she both wrote and performed, which makes her an inspirational figure to anyone, particularly a mastermind like Björk. (Who is perhaps compared to her more than any other artist). Björk listed Bush’s The Dreaming as one of her 11 favourite albums of all-time, alongside artists like Joni Mitchell and James Blake. It’s Oh So Quiet, her highest-charting UK hit, is Björk at her most eccentric, theatrical and Bush-adjacent best. It’s a song that’s made for the stage and screen.
Florence and the Machine - Never Let Me Go
Like Bush, Florence Welch’s songs often revolve around big, epic sounds. And there’s no finer example of this than Never Let Me Go, which is practically crying out to be used in a dramatic slo-mo TV montage sometime soon, where the stakes couldn’t possibly be higher. The track is a downtempo baroque pop ballad with elements of indie pop, with a piano-led instrumentation accompanied by thumping drums. Welch’s vocals throughout her music feel obviously inspired by Bush.
Caroline Polachek - Pang
Taken from the album of the same name, Pang is inspired inspired by her Polachek’s divorce from her ex-husband, which happened six months into making the album. (And hell hath no fury like a talented musician scorned). Pang combines an eclectic mix of sounds and was described by The Guardian as “almost symphonic” and by Pitchfork as blending “acoustic and synthetic textures into a surrealist yet affecting listen". Elsewhere on the album, Bush’s influence can be heard on Ocean of Tears, a hip-hop-tinged R&B track also influenced by Imogen Heap and Annie Lennox.
Sky Ferreira - Lost in my Bedroom
Lost in My Bedroom is an uptempo electropop song that feels reminiscent of Ferreira’s earlier material. The song was leaked online in 2012, on Soundcloud of all places, which prompted Ferreira to release it early. She described it as the most electro-pop track on her second album, Ghost. There’s a definite influence of Bush and Blondie too (another icon the “Stranger Things generation” might not have heard of).
Taylor Swift - Out of the Woods
Out of the Woods is perhaps Taylor Swift’s most 1980s-inspired banger. It is a pop, synth-pop and electro song about Swift and her ex-boyfriend, Harry Styles. The song describes a fragile relationship which is beset with constant challenges, making her wonder if they’ll ever make it out of the woods and be happy together. It features heavy synthesisers, looping drums, and layered background vocals, and has a similarly cinematic feel to much of Bush’s back catalogue.
Siouxsie and the Banshees - Happy House
Siouxsie and the Banshees are required listening for anyone wanting to update their 1980s musical knowledge. Their third album, Kaleidoscope, charts their gradual shift to twisted pop. The first single on the 1980 EP, Happy House, finds Siouxsie poking fun at the family unit in a consumer society. (That was very risky subject matter in the conservative 1980s). Like Bush, there is the sense that Siouxsie has an affinity for fairytales, the supernatural and anything spooky.
Lorde - Liability
Lorde’s sophomore album Melodrama is packed with all the heartbreak and drama which makes Kate Bush’s music so timeless. Liability - a song about being made to feel like you’re a little too much for someone - actually appears on the album twice. Its second “reprise” version is the more melancholic of the two. If Kate Bush releases new music, a collaboration with Lorde’s creative partner Jack Antonoff would be a stan fantasy.
Imogen Heap - Goodnight and Go
Most people have heard Heap’s most famous song, Hide and Seek. The lead single from her 2006 album Speak For Yourself shot to fame after being featured on an episode of The OC, in a similar viral style to Running Up That Hill on Stranger Things. Fans of Ariana Grande (who is a Heap stan) will also recognise Goodnight and Go, the second single from the album which inspired Grande’s song of a similar name (goodnight n go). It’s atmospheric, sad and narrative-driven, which means we’ll probably see it on TV sometime soon too.