Warning: Spoilers ahead! Stop reading here if you don't want to know what happens during season 4 of Stranger Things!
Stranger Things is back for a fourth season with all kinds of new drama—and some pretty amazing throwback music—to explore. There’s one song in particular that’s getting plenty of airplay on the show: Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill (Deal with God).” And there's a reason it might sound familiar...but I'll get to that in a second.
There’s a story involved in this: One of the biggest, er, "strange things" is a villain named Vecna who targets people who have gone through a trauma in their past. Vecna gets into the person's minds and then kills them, until the Stranger Things stars discover that playing a person’s favorite song can wake someone up and prevent Vecna from killing them.
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Given that Max has some serious trauma (what with her step-brother Billy’s recent death and all), Vecna goes after her. But Max is saved by her friends when they start blasting a Kate Bush song into her headphones to wake her up from a Vecna-induced trance. The song also appears at the beginning of the season when Max listens to it while walking down the hallway at school.
Naturally, people have all kinds of questions about Kate Bush and that super catchy song she's singing. Here’s what you need to know:
Wait, who is Kate Bush again?
It's been a while, so I get it. Allow me to refresh your memory (or provide an introduction if you're a child of the late 90s/early 2000s): Kate Bush is a British singer who became popular in the 1980s with a slew of hit singles. Those included "The Man with the Child in His Eyes," "Babooshka," "Running Up That Hill," "Don't Give Up,” and "King of the Mountain.”
Her first hit single, which she released at age 19, was called "Wuthering Heights" and it topped the UK Singles Chart for four weeks in the late 70s. She was the first female artist to have a self-written song to hit No. 1 on that chart, per Yahoo! Life.
Kate is now 63 years old and still lives in the UK with her husband, Dan McIntosh. After a very long dry spell, Kate went on her Before the Dawn tour in 2014. It was the first time she'd toured in decades.
When did 'Running Up That Hill' first come out?
The Stranger Things song actually first came out as part of Bush’s 1985 album, Hounds of Love. So it's not a new song at all. In fact, there are lots of people out there who were probably obsessed with it like 40 years ago.
Why is it so popular again?
"Running Up That Hill" has taken on a second life thanks to Stranger Things. It’s currently No. 1 on the iTunes song chart and No. 4 on Spotify's top 200. And people have also been searching for it a ton on Google.
When she wrote the song, Netflix wasn't even a glimmer in co-founders Reed Hastings and Marc Randolph's eyes. So, it's pretty impressive that this major streaming platform is launching the song into a comeback four decades later.
What is its significance in Stranger Things Season 4?
Going back to the whole Max/Billy plot line… Max’s stepbrother Billy was brutally killed at the end of season 3 by The Mind Flayer. The Mind Flayer took control of Billy’s body, and Billy died while trying to kill the demon.
"Running Up That Hill" has lyrics that include, “And if I only could / I’d make a deal with God / And I’d get him to swap our places” which could tap into how Max feels about Billy’s death.
It’s a song that would have been playing on the radio around the same time as Max’s fight with Vecna, so it also definitely fits the time period. But apparently Winona Ryder pushed for Bush’s song to be on the show. "I've been obsessed with her since I was a little girl," Winona told USA Today. "I've also for the last seven years been dropping hints on set wearing my Kate Bush T-shirts."
And there you have it.