80’s Revival – Why Kate Bush’s 80’s pop fits perfectly into the present culture


A decade-old song has been at the top of the charts for a few weeks: “Running up That Hill” by 80s icon Kate Bush. How could a 37-year-old song become a global hit again?

Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” owes its second spring to the Netflix series “Stranger Things”. The song plays an important role in the story of the latest season and can be heard again and again.

Attention – and open ears

The fact that Bush’s song is so prominently featured in one of the most successful series gives him a lot of attention. That alone is not enough for this extraordinary success – the song also had to find interested ears.


Canadian The Weeknd’s songs sound like they were recorded in the 80s.


The fact that he did that is probably due to the fact that the sound of the 80s is very present today. There are always songs in the hit parades that unmistakably sound like this decade, for example by The Weeknd, Dua Lipa or Ed Sheeran. The songs of the Swiss Crimer also sound as if they were 40 years old.

Such artists are just the tip of the iceberg, says SRF3 music editor Claudio Landolt: “This stylized 80s synth-pop sound has had a revival for a long time. We’re probably at the peak right now.”

The 80s shaped today’s pop

The synthesizer and drum machine used on «Running Up That Hill» are also used or imitated on current songs. That’s why the sound of the 80s still sounds contemporary. “I’m always amazed at how up-to-date such songs sound in terms of production technology – how fresh it all is and how good it sounds,” says Landolt.

But songs from the 80s don’t just fit current pop music in terms of sound aesthetics and production technology, says Landolt: “The music of the 80s seems fluid, androgynous. It also seems to be less hierarchically male-dominated than music from previous decades. That coincides with today’s ideas.”

Earn new money with old hits

What happened to the Kate Bush song is exemplary for a trend in the music business. Music corporations and investment companies are increasingly seeing music as an investment opportunity that should generate long-term profit.

Companies buy song rights from established artists such as Bob Dylan, Tina Turner or David Bowie for millions in the hope that the old songs will continue to make a profit.

Kate Bush has not sold her song rights

With Kate Bush, this has now been spectacularly successful – but without the involvement of investment companies and record companies: the rights to “Running Up That Hill” are owned entirely by Kate Bush herself.

A large part of the profit from this surprise success will go to her. Nevertheless, the example should set a precedent: It shows how profitable it can be to place a song in a series.

Woman with a microphone on a stage


Kate Bush has not sold the rights to her songs – that should now pay off.

IMAGO / United Archives

What does it take for a second spring?

At the same time, the example of Bush makes it clear that many factors have to come together for renewed chart success – coincidence also plays a role.

And it needs the right song, as Landolt says: “Kate Bush is the perfect choice for ‘Stranger Things’ because she was probably the ‘strangest’ singer of the 80s. Their songs are so abnormal and so good at the same time.”

Bush’s magical aura fits the series perfectly, and there are still a lot of forgotten pearls from the still incomparable musician, says Landolt: “I wish the world that you rediscover them all.”

5 listening tips for new Kate Bush fans

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You discovered Kate Bush thanks to “Stranger Things”? These 5 songs are perfect for delving further into the work of this unique musician.

  1. Kate Bush’s very first single “Wuthering Heights” became a number one hit in 1978. She suddenly made a name for herself with her falsetto singing and idiosyncratic dance movements – and was already considered a polarizing artist whose style did not please everyone.
  2. Kate Bush was only 13 when she wrote the ballad The Man With The Child In His Eyes. Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour served as producer on the recordings.
  3. The influence of Pink Floyd can also be heard in the song “Wow” from the album “Lionheart”. Bush says she tried to write a “Pink Floyd” song here. This can be heard clearly, especially in the chorus.
  4. “Babooshka” from 1980 already has the typical 80s sound. The song uses the same drum machine and synthesizer that can be heard on “Running Up That Hill.”
  5. “The Dreaming” from the album of the same name is about the Australian Aborigines, which is why a didgeridoo can also be heard. The album is considered Bush’s most non-commercial and experimental work.

Radio SRF 2 Kultur, culture news, June 22, 2022, 7:00 a.m.



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