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Listen to the mesmerising isolated vocals of Kate Bush on 'Running Up That Hill'


Few artists could compete with Kate Bush in terms of original creativity. Arriving as a cosmic bundle of unique songwriting talent during the feverish flames of punk rock, Bush established herself as a wholly singular phenomenon. Her debut single, ‘Wuthering Heights’, would discern the young singer as a completely intrinsic thinker, crafting a pop hit out of classic literature. However, Bush would not have been able to pull off this neat trick without some serious vocal talent.

Bush’s vocal talent has often been heralded as one of her defining facets. With a remarkable range, she performed tongue and chord gymnastics that would make the Olympics blush. There are countless moments throughout her impressive canon where Bush has shown off just how flexible her instrument is, but perhaps no performance made a more significant impact than ‘Running Up That Hill’. Below, we examine her isolated vocal track for the song and marvel at her talent.

The first hit of ‘Running Up That Hill’ on Bush’s 1983 magnus opus, Hounds of Love, leaves you in no doubt, this is not just a pop masterpiece but an undulating and intriguing song like none that had ever been heard before. It married up the love letter sensibilities that all truly great pop music should at least allude to. But it also gathered up a new level of poetic thinking as Bush’s lyrics explore human connection and our relationship with God.

Bush explained in a 1985 interview: “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’s an intriguing prospect and one primarily underpinned by the fragility of those relationships. “It creates insecurities,” Bush continues, “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 elaborated when speaking to the BBC in 1992: “I was trying to say that, really, a man and a woman can’t understand each other because we are a man and a woman. And if we could actually swap each other’s roles, if we could actually be in each other’s place for a while, I think we’d both be very surprised! [Laughs] And I think it would lead to a greater understanding.” A joyous idea and one which is wonderfully supported by the synth-drenched crescendos that add flourish to Bush’s sentiment and a taste of glistening pop to proceedings.

She continues to add layer upon layer to the lyrics as she explores heavenly sources of inspiration, “Really the only way I could think it could be done was either… you know, I thought a deal with the devil, you know. And I thought, ‘well, no, why not a deal with God!’ You know, because in a way, it’s so much more powerful the whole idea of asking God to make a deal with you.” It’s part of the operatic mind of Bush that has made her a British institution.

However, it is Bush’s balance of deep thinking vibrato and serene high notes that makes the song feel like a true production. Never one to shy away from the production of a song to turn it from pop ditty to a full-scale theatrical project, Bush’s vocal dexterity provides a truly joyful listening experience. It’s an experience enhanced by the isolation of Bush’s vocal track.

Listen to Kate Bush’s mesmerising isolated vocal track for ‘Running Up That Hill’.