Spearheading the ‘artpop’ scene in the 1980s, Kate Bush has enjoyed 50 steady decades of loyal fans. Enchanting eager listeners with her famous account of Bronte’s ‘Wiley windy moors’, her popularity has been a constant feature of British music since her first appearance. Yet somehow, the past few months have seen a surge in fandom, with her so-called ‘Fish People’ welcoming more listeners than ever. My mission is to investigate how a simple feature in a popular TV show changed the trajectory of Bush’s career.

The Strange Outsider

By now, most of us will have seen the clip featuring ‘Running Up That Hill’ from Netflix’s Stranger Things. Breaking records, Season 4 has received over 1 billion viewing hours making it Netflix’s most-watched show. From TikTokers to radio fans, millions have now seen that nail-biting showdown between Max and Vecna in the first instalment. Bush’s music crystalised the intensity of the moment.

Indeed, it is the ’80s nostalgia that somewhat accounts for her revival. In terms of counterculture, Kate is our queen. Her 1985 album Hounds of Love offered fans a concept piece depicting the internal and physical battle of a woman out at sea, reflecting her contribution to the weird and wonderful that we cite as pure ’80s eccentricity. On a technical level too, the zeitgeist she promotes traverses the boundaries of just sentiment, to pioneering musical innovation. Her sampling of electronic music combined with a familiar synth creates a sound that just feels homely. In fact, it is Kate who first used the wireless microphone (later important to contemporaries such as Madonna), reinforcing how her career is almost a caricature of ’80s sentiment and technology. That sweet sting for an era of fluorescent clothes and perms which her music embodies has drummed up enormous popularity. In short, Bush provides us with a portal to a lost time, making her the obvious choice for any ’80s soundtrack.

Next, one must always acknowledge Kate’s position as a pioneer in the female music industry. Being the first female to achieve the number one spot in the UK charts not only flipped the patriarchy on its head, it also proved that women who don’t sing happy-go-lucky love songs can be immensely popular. At such a young age, Kate opened the doors to often marginalised female artists and has gone on to be a large influence to many more modern singers. Tori Amos and Florence Welch emulate her witchy, wistful aura. St Vincent has championed her artpop confidence. Even electric artists like Grimes are no strangers to a comparison. Not only an inventor but the original influencer, it is clear that our irresistible attraction to Kate stems from the monopoly of artists inspired by her. It is one thing to be liked, but something more to birth a race of inspiring musicians.

Champion of the Different

Regardless of the decade or genre, Kate’s outsider status creates a world of acceptance and tolerance for any fan who has ever felt, well, a bit different. Wailing about washing machines, rain-making or just a beautiful sunset has created a precedent of a musician ready to embrace the unconventional. In an ever-polarised world, this commitment to inclusivity has allured fans with the promise of a friendly, confident and quirky community. Indeed, her everlasting appeal stems from the idea that her songs simply create a new clique where fans can be who they really are, not who society wishes them to be. Being different has never mattered in Kate’s universe since, frankly, who could be more out there than Kate Bush?

And so, as her single really does Run Up That Hill to number one, we must remember that it is not just a strong sound that has lent her such popularity. Rather, a mystical, pioneering and reclusive persona has once again succeeded in enchanting a population — proving, that different is always better.

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