Music

The 1985 Kate Bush Classic Resurrected by Stranger Things Is the Song of the Summer

Where in Portland have you heard “Running Up That Hill”?

By Margaret Seiler June 15, 2022

An image of Kate Bush looms above a collage of a city skyline and a Mount Hood

There was a time when, to hear the songwriting genius and impassioned vocals of Kate Bush, you had to dig out the tape you ordered from Columbia House, 12 for a penny plus shipping and handling (and some sort of blood pledge about receiving future tapes—I could never really figure it out). Or you had to stay up very, very late for MTV’s 120 Minutes, or successfully set the VCR to record it and hope no one reprogrammed it or took out the tape you had ready after you went to bed. Or you had to purposefully attend or be lucky enough to happen upon a “Wuthering Heights” flash mob or the Biking Up That Hill Pedalpalooza ride. Or you had to be at the old Chopsticks II by the Laurelhurst (RIP) on just the right weeknight when someone—generally someone with a passing resemblance to Alia Shawkat, but not always—would put “Running Up that Hill” in and then absolutely nail it.

Or maybe you would hear her without hearing her, like on 2007’s Night Drive from Portland’s Chromatics, or in Maxwell’s “This Women’s Work” cover during in the love scene in Love & Basketball. (But just seeing Love & Basketball can be tough—the wildfires postponed its drive-in screening at Zidell Yards in September 2020.)

Yes, there was a time when hearing Kate Bush took some work or some luck. June 2022 is not that time. Thanks to the Netflix series Stranger Things and its Gen X–revering millennial creators, who imbued it with great power as the favorite tune of Walkman-toting Max, Bush’s 37-year-old college-rock alt anthem “Running Up That Hill” is the song of the summer.  

Some IRL Kate Bush love spotted on East Burnside in December 2021—Portland had a soft spot for the British legend well before her Netflix moment.

“Momma, it’s all over Instagram and TikTok,” my 13-year-old (who dressed as Max for Halloween 2020, and to whom I recently had to explain the concept of rewinding a tape) assures me. But we don’t have to go online to find it. Like a mind invader from another dimension, it just finds us.

At the Gateway Fred Meyer—might it become as standard a supermarket soundtrack as Bananarama’s “Cruel Summer”?

Pregame at Providence Park just before the Dua Lipa–soundtracked psych-up video plays. The song came out the year Becky Sauerbrunn and Christine Sinclair were born, and Thorns fans can confirm there is thunder in their hearts. Coincidence?

At Bless Your Heart Burgers in the Walgreens parking lot on NE 33rd. I look up from my fry sauce hoping to lock eyes with another listener, but there’s no one to exchange (or even just share) the experience with.

Pumping out of a passing car tuned to Live 95.5 FM, alongside recent hits from Lil Nas X and Camila Cabello. Wonder if they're fans. 

At Aunt Tillie’s Deli in Hollywood. As arts editor Conner Reed tears into a reuben, he can’t help but wonder—is Kate singing of the same deal with god that’s kept this palace of potato salad and video poker open for nearly 40 years?

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