Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Kate Bush 'Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)'

Chart Peak: 3


'Running Up That Hill' shot straight into the Top 10 on release and reached Number 3 in late August - It was Kate's first single for three years.
I've got a couple of days behind on this album, but ironically it might have been more interesting had I got even further back as I might then have had the unusual experience of writing on this blog about a current Top 40 hit: as of today it looks like this song will be in the Top 10 again this week.

At the time, too, this was a major comeback for her, following what then seemed a long three-year wait after the relatively unsuccessful The Dreaming album. Despite the controversial sub-title (omitted on the original single but listed here and on every other release to include the song), this was and still is her biggest hit since 1978 in both the UK and the US. It's an example of one of my favourite pop phenomena - the deserved crossover hit. Many non-mainstream acts have had big hits by exploiting a fanbase or harking back to early glories, but Bush is among the select group of major acts who can produce work that's deep and yet also instantly accessible. Unusually for music of this era, whilst the heavy use of synthesisers and the booming drums suggest this record couldn't be much older than it is, it sounds like Bush is the master of them, not vice versa - you could imagine it being made with almost the same sound any time in the subsequent 27 years without sounding inappropriate. You can easily tell the song's heavy with meaning too, even if it's hard to put your finger on exactly what it means; it is perhaps slightly clearer when heard as the opening track on Hounds Of Love, as an introduction to the ominous themes of that record. It still seems to come from a position of hope though, and it feels artistically honest that the music it's set to has a prettiness that offers the optimism the lyric tries for: "tell me we both matter, don't we?". A track that absolutely fits on this album as a piece of pop but outclasses most of the rest.

Also appearing on: Now 8 [with Peter Gabriel], 16
Available on: The Whole Story

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