When Stranger Things was released, no one imagined just how big it would get. Six years later, it has become one of the most anticipated releases on streaming service platform Netflix.
Through the years, Stranger Things has followed the trend of creating stories set in the 1980s with others even arguing that it may have been the catalyst in modern entertainment plots. Apart from the nostalgia of the fashion, the show continues the trend of bringing back classic music. While The Clash’s Should I Stay or Should I Go may have been on everyone’s playlist after the first season, the latest season of Stranger Things has injected Kate Bush’s classic Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God) back into the mainstream.
The song does more than just blend into the background, it plays an important role in the plot, particularly around Sadie Sink’s Max’s story.
In the conclusion of the third season, Max witnesses her brother Billy (played by the charismatic Dacre Montgomery) die at the hands of the Mind Flayer. Although the step-siblings were never close, Billy’s sacrifice leaves a hole in Max’s life.
Season four begins six months after the end of season three and sees the misfit heroes adapting to life in high school. While Mike Wheeler and Dustin Henderson (played by Finn Wolfhard and Gaten Matarazzo respectively) continue to be social outcasts, Caleb McLaughlin’s Lucas Sinclair has been getting himself into the popular crowd as a jock. Max is seen gliding through the halls with her headphones on and Kate Bush’s Running Up That Hill playing on full volume, still coping with Billy’s death.
Ultimately, the song plays a crucial role in Max’s first confrontation with the season’s main villain from the Upside Down, Vecna.
Throughout the season, teenagers have been dying at the hands of the supernatural entity in a way that’s reminiscent of the ‘70s slasher film A Nightmare on Elm Street. When the group discovers Max may be next, they try to find a way to avoid her falling victim to Vecna. It’s Nancy and Robin (Natalia Dyer and Maya Hawke) who discover a loophole – music. Their information arrives right on time as Max struggles to escape from Vecna in his realm. Hearing the Kate Bush classic allows her to slip through his hands and become the second survivor after Robert Englund’s Victor Creel.
New fans of the song can thank Nora Felder, the longtime music supervisor for the show. While show creators Matt and Ross Duffer were grinding their heads to think of the right song for the scene, Felder found the Kate Bush song resonated well with Max’s sense of isolation.
“The song really needed to resonate with Max’s experience and amplify her need for strength and support at that time,” explained the music supervisor. With Running Up That Hill, Felder immediately felt a surge of excitement. “The more the song marinated in my conscious awareness, I realized this was something that could be special.”