Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Kate Bush was ready for a reboot. After the artist's fourth studio album, The Dreaming, made a sluggish showing on the UK charts, Bush took matters into her own hands--literally--by building a state of the art recording studio in the barn behind her family home. As part of the studio arsenal--the Fairlight CMI sampling keyboard and digital workstation. While the powerful piece of gear was heard on The Dreaming, Bush would truly harness its potential on the followup LP: “With a Fairlight, you’ve got everything: a tremendous range of things,” she explained to Option (via DJ Mag). “It completely opened me up to sounds and textures and I could experiment with these in a way I could never have done without it.” 

Thanks to the freedom provided by a home recording studio, Bush spent two years fine-tuning her fifth studio album, Hounds of Love, released in September 1985. In the run up to the album's release, Bush shared the LP's lead single on August 5, 1985: "Running Up That Hill."

"It's about a relationship between a man and a woman. They love each other very much, and the power of the relationship is something that gets in the way. It creates insecurities," Bush revealed in 1985. "It's saying if the man could be the woman and the woman the man, if they could make a deal with God, to change places, that they'd understand what it's like to be the other person and perhaps it would clear up misunderstandings. You know, all the little problems; there would be no problem."

Bush's label had tried to release "Cloudbusting" as the album's lead single, due primarily to the use of the word "God" in the song title "Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God)." When the artist pushed for "Running Up That Hill," the label angled for a compromise: take "Deal with God" out of the song title. For Bush, that "deal" was vital to the song:

"For me, that is the title, but I was told that if I insisted, the radio stations in at least ten countries would refuse to play it because it had "God" in the title - Spain, Italy, America, lots of them. I thought it was ridiculous," Bush explained to Q in 1989 about the song's abridged title on the single release. "Still, especially after The Dreaming, I decided to weigh up the priorities. Not compromise creatively, but not be so obsessive that... I had to give the album a chance." (the song's full title appeared on the album credits).

"Running Up That Hill" was a return to chart form for Bush in her native UK, with the song climbing all the way to #3 on the national Singles Chart. The track was even a mainstream hit in the United States, crashing the top 40 to peak at #30 on the Hot 100 for the week of November 30, 1985. The #1 song in the country that week: Phil Collins and Marilyn Martin, "Separate Lives."

The song arrived with a lush and elaborate music video featuring Bush displaying bold and dramatic interpretive dance moves: "That was a lot of fun. I was working there with Diane Grey, a choreographer, who I met a couple of years ago. It's very exciting working with other people," Bush told Profile 6 in 1985. "I think it's especially so when you spend such a lot of time, say, in the studio where you're only working with a set group, say two other people. And it was very inspiring working with the choreographer, who's also such a good dancer and we got on well together. We had lots of fun."

Neither Bush's label or MTV were too keen on the clip, choosing to utilize a UK TV performance in its stead: "MTV weren't particularly interested in broadcasting videos that didn't have synchronized lip movements in them," deadpanned Kate's brother and member of her band, Paddy Bush. "They liked the idea of people singing songs."

For her part, Kate Bush was in part inspired by the proliferation of bad dancing she regularly saw on the video channel: "During the gap between the last and this album, I'd seen quite a few videos on television that other people had been doing," Bush told Canadian music video show Good Rockin' Tonight in 1985: "And I felt that dance, something that we'd been working in, particularly in the earlier videos... was being used quite trivially, it was being exploited: haphazard images, busy, lots of dances, without really the serious expression, and wonderful expression, that dance can give. So we felt how interesting it would be to make a very simple routine between two people, almost classic, and very simply filmed. So that's what we tried, really, to do a serious piece of dance."