B100: #79 “Running Up That Hill” by Kate Bush

To complete the 70s in my 100 favourite songs rundown, it’s the epic synth symphony of 1985’s “Running Up That Hill” by Kate Bush.

Although I can be a Kate Bush agnostic when it comes to some of her records, that’s definitely not the case for her 1985 masterpiece “Hounds Of Love” album, and especially the lead-off single “Running Up That Hill”.  I can still distinctly remember seeing this tune premiered on the Wogan TV show in 1985, while staying round my nan’s house during the summer holidays – and being completely blown away.  Further investigation reveals that this took place on 5th August 1985 and the performance’s overall impact on me was amplified by the fact that I wasn’t really that familiar with Kate Bush then, as this was her big comeback after nearly four years away, a lifetime in fast-moving 80s pop terms.

Beautifully filmed and directed for an 80s mainstream TV show, the song’s introductory tribal drums pan out to show a band of cloaked merry brothers standing to attention while playing an unlikely mix of drums, lutes and keytars (well it was the 80s).  Then we finally see Kate Bush behind a lectern, teasingly asking “do you want to hear about the deal I’m making?”, to which there’s only one answer.  She then delivers a ridiculously charismatic performance stage front, while a pair of flag-bearers and the group creepily encroach to create a slight sense of cult-like tension as the song builds and builds.  Oh yes, and at the end Kate produces a crossbow ready to aim; why not?

“Running Up That Hill” live on Wogan, 1985

A perfect fusion of spectacle and song, “Running Up That Hill” still sounds winningly unique, 35 years since its release.  Mashing up Fairlight synth pop stylings with constantly propulsive drums, anchored by dramatic chorus interludes delightfully sung, “Running Up That Hill” is one of those tunes that’s very much of its time yet also timeless.  Released as a single the same day as the Wogan performance, “Running Up That Hill” reached number 3 in the UK charts.  The “Hounds Of Love” album followed the next month, home to a couple of other fantastic singles in “Cloudbusting” and “Hounds Of Love” itself.

Obviously a hugely productive force before and after (although less so in later years), it’s the “Hounds Of Love” period that probably remains Kate Bush’s most beloved, with a recent Pitchfork retrospective review giving the album a perfect score.   As well as her huge influence on everyone from St Vincent to Utah Saints, that iconic Wogan performance also helped to inspire such disparate artists as the KLF and PJ Harvey in stage presentation; just witness KLF TOTP performances or PJ Harvey (and band)’s entrance on their exhilarating 2016 tour.


“Running Up That Hill” music video
  • Other great Kate Bush songs include: Hounds Of Love, Cloudbusting, The Man With The Child In His Eyes, Wuthering Heights, The Sensual World
“Running Up That Hill” is featured on my B100 Spotify playlist
“Running Up That Hill” ia also featured on my 379: Pop Spotify playlist


One thought on “B100: #79 “Running Up That Hill” by Kate Bush

  1. Pingback: Jumping Fences to Wichita: my 100 favourite songs | No Longer Teenage Fan Club

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