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Music

The Big Topic: How television shows are giving artists a new lease of life

@josephtaysom

Despite all the talk about Netflix being on the brink of collapse, the power of Stranger Things has surprisingly led to Kate Bush’s ‘Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)’ re-climbing the charts. After millions were introduced to the track during the latest season of the show, the power-pop anthem is once again gaining recognition.

Over 37 years after its initial release, ‘Running Up That Hill (Deal With God)‘ has returned to the charts after featuring predominantly in the fourth season of the hit Netflix show as the “favourite song” of Max. Following the series landing on the streaming service, Kate Bush’s name began to trend on Google and across social media as a result of the inclusion of her track.

Remarkably, ‘Running Up That Hill (Deal With God)’ has shot up to number one on the iTunes Charts and into the top five on Spotify’s ‘Top 200’. Astonishingly, on May 30th, it registered over five million streams on Spotify alone, and only ‘As It Was’ from Harry Styles’ new album Harry’s House is currently more popular.

In the series, ‘Running Up That Hill’ is first heard through the Walkman of Sadie Sink’s character, Max Mayfield, one of the key members of the Stranger Things gang. Playing a pivotal role in the series’ narrative, the track acts as both an integral plot point and a wonderfully emotional soundtrack. A whole new generation has taken Kate Bush to their hearts as a result of the sci-fi programme, and she’s not the only artist to have enjoyed a second lease of life from a television series.

1980s pop star and former Kajagoogoo singer Limahl was also given the rub of the green by Stranger Things in 2019. His track ‘Neverending Story’, a theme song for the cult-classic children’s appeared in the finale of season three, and he enjoyed a huge spike in sales as a result. According to Nielsen Music, the song rose from a negligible amount of sales in the week ending July 4th, 2019, to 3,000 in the week ending July 11th, according to Nielsen Music. Meanwhile, streams grew by 2,063% from 88,000 in the week ending July 4th to 1.91 million in the week ending July 11th.

Meanwhile, Peaky Blinders provided Nick Cave with a boost when they made ‘Red Right Hand’ their theme tune, and the show became a global phenomenon. Similarly to Bush, Cave was already an icon prior to the inclusion, but, it gave him even more cultural cache as well as relevancy, and swathes of new fans. Even though ‘Red Right Hand’ didn’t become a chart success, it did hugely positive impact Cave’s career. He once revealed: “So many people come up to me and say ‘I’m a huge fan’ and have discovered my music through Peaky Blinders.”

Meanwhile, the Brian Jonestown Massacre’s ‘Straight Up and Down’ from their third album, 1996’s Take It from the Man, enjoyed a second lease of life after it was chosen as the theme song for HBO’s Boardwalk Empire. “I wanted unexpected,” the show’s creator and executive producer Terence Winter told The Hollywood Reporter about why he selected the track. “I didn’t want to do some Charleston, which didn’t really kick in until 1924 anyway, and everything I heard from the period had people doing the Charleston.”

He added: “I had been a fan of the Brian Jonestown Massacre, so we tried it, and I said to the editor, that really works for me.”

In the age of streaming, we can now discover an artist’s entire back catalogue at the click of a finger, and television shows are helping to break down a generational divide.

If Stranger Things aired in the 1990s, ‘Running Up That Hill’ would likely not have gained the same level of momentum as it has today. There are a million reasons social media has made society more toxic — but Kate Bush enjoying a much-deserved Indian summer after being adopted by Gen-Z is no small consolation.