Running Up That Hill: How Stranger Things and TikTok pushed Kate Bush’s 1985 pop classic back to the top of the charts - Music Reads - Double J

Jun 11, 2022 3:04 AM
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Kate Bush on the front cover of her 1985 album

Kate Bush's 1985 song has been used in over 500,000 short videos in just over a week

Netflix’s nostalgia-laden thriller Stranger Things returned last month and with it came the revival of another classic from the 1980s, Running Up That Hill by Kate Bush.

The song plays a prominent part in the narrative connected to one of the show’s leading teen cast members and is featured in a climatic, and visually stunning scene that has been making the rounds on the internet.

In a post shared to her website over the weekend, Kate Bush showered praise on the show and Netflix:

You might’ve heard that the first part of the fantastic, gripping new series of Stranger Things has recently been released on Netflix… It features the song, ‘Running Up That Hill’ which is being given a whole new lease of life by the young fans who love the show – I love it too!

Making a deal with TikTok

One thing missing from the acknowledgement is mention of another digital platform helping to boost the song’s presence: TikTok.

A 30-second version of the Stranger Things clip has been posted and reposted on TikTok, gaining millions of views in just over a week, and Kate Bush’s song has been used in over 500,000 short videos.

Videos featuring the song depict teens cosplaying as characters, acting out scenes from the shows, and making humorous meme videos ("my friends playing my favourite song trying to save me… my airpods die").


Others engage less with Stranger Things and more with Kate Bush, in videos depicting connecting with parents over a shared love, recommending more of Bush’s music, and sharing joy that a new generation of audiences might be discovering the influential artist for the first time.

The song speaks to misfits and of desperation, themes as relevant to teens in 2022 as they were in 1985.


Running up that hill and going viral

The runaway resurgence of Bush’s 1985 classic could be a signal to film and TV producers to make clips more “TikTokable”.

Songs with short catchy hooks that are attached to eye-grabbing visual sequences in clips that are sixty, or better yet thirty, seconds maximum are more likely to be picked up on and shared on TikTok.

The chances of going viral can be improved by choosing classic chart-toppers that may find a revival among younger audiences.

Naturally when a beloved artist is found by Gen-Z audiences, it leads to gatekeeping by longtime fans as well as counter-gatekeeping by fans who are thrilled to see a younger audience connecting with one of their favourite artists’ music.