Tue. Jun 18th, 2024

Why 80s British Pop Queen Kate Bush Owns 2022

Kate Bush has been lying in wait for us on this side of the millennium – especially for those of us on the U.S. side of the pond, who paid too little attention when she became pop royalty in the UK (and Japan!) at the turn of the 80s.

Bush was too quirky, too British, and maybe too much her own woman for U.S. audiences, maybe. But now they’re ready. Finally, in the millions, Americans are catching up to the brilliance of her 1985 single “Running Up That Hill” thanks to its resurrection by Stranger Things Season 4.

Thus far, the Internet has preferred her early stuff. Her first album and its eponymous single, Wuthering Heights, garnered attention online because of its beloved, bizarre video, an inspiration to Kate fans worldwide. 1979 was the last time that she toured and the last time she appeared onstage until a 2015 comeback appearance.

Bush relied on elaborate music films to carry her image. Her early turn to video, we might say, helped make her a cult favorite when she declined to be a celebrity for a few decades. Now video has killed the touring superstar, and Bush is an American pop queen.

In 2022 — almost 40 years after its release — “Running Up That Hill” has hit No 1 on the Hot Billboard 100 Songwriters charts, the first song by a female artist to top the chart this year. Her 1985 album Hounds of Love has become Bush’s first Billboard No. 1 album, this summer, ranking at the top for alternative albums and No. 2 for top rock albums.

“Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God)” first peaked at No. 3 on British charts in 1985. The  album, Hounds of Love — one of her very best among a long string of great records — was hailed as “f**ing” brilliant” by NME. “Our Kate’s a genius, the rarest solo artist this country’s ever produced,” wrote Jane Solanas.

Over here in the States, we were hardly unaware of Kate. Although “Running Up That Hill” only hit No. 30 on the charts, her music continued to thrive in underground scenes yet unmeasured by sales and chart positions. (Hounds of Love‘s “Cloudbusting” invaded U.S. raves and clubs in 1992 via samples in British group Utah Saints’ “Something Good,” a song most people heard on sketchy dance floors and ratty cassette mixtapes).

As for the mainstream U.S. press, well… “The Mistress of Mysticism has woven another album that both dazzles and bores,” wrote a Rolling Stone critic in 1985. “Her vision will seem silly to those who believe children should be seen and not heard.” A New York Times‘ review called Hounds of Love “slightly precious, calculated female art rock.”

There’s nothing slight about Kate Bush’s work, but Cheers to the sounds of f***ing brilliant children at work. See why Bush’s revival — or enduring staying power — should come as no surprise in the Polyphonic video above.

Related Content: 

Kate Bush Enjoys a (Long-Overdue) Revival, Sparked by Season 4 of Stranger Things

Revisit Kate Bush’s Peculiar Christmas Special, Featuring Peter Gabriel (1979)

300 Kate Bush Impersonators Pay Tribute to Kate Bush’s Iconic “Wuthering Heights” Video

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

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