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Stranger Things bosses’ gambled on Kate Bush letting them use Running Up That Hill

Stranger Things season 4
(Image credit: Netflix)

The producers of Stranger Things had to gamble on getting Kate Bush’s approved to use Running Up That Hill in the show’s fourth season.

They knew she hardly ever granted sync rights for any of her material – but they also knew that there was no other song they wanted to illustrate the character Max’s difficult journey.

Music supervisor Nora Felder told Variety: “It immediately struck me with its deep chords of the possible connection to Max’s emotional struggles, and took on more significance as Bush’s song marinated in my conscious awareness.”

Although she confirmed there was a list of alternative songs, she and producers the Duffer Brothers didn’t want to have to consider them. “I sat with my clearance coordinator, and laid out all the scripted scenes for song uses that we knew of at that point,” she said.

“Knowing the challenges, we proceeded to create elaborate scene descriptions that provided as much context as possible so that Kate and her camp would have a full understanding of the uses. When we finished, we were on edge, but excited and hopeful.”

Negotiations took longer than usual due to the number of times Running Up That Hill – subtitle A Deal With God – was set to appear. “Each of the prospective song placements in the initial scripts was tagged with the placeholder, ‘TBD Max song,’” Felder said.

Bush was sent the information via Sony Music Publishing’s Wende Crowley, who said: “Kate Bush is selective when it comes to licensing her music and because of that, we made sure to get script pages and footage for her to review so she could see exactly how the song would be used.”

Fortunately, as she recently revealed herself, Bush was already a Stranger Things fan, and Felder was given the go-ahead. Until then, there had always been the possibility that they’d have to resort to a plan B.

“I have a running expression I use when my showrunners feel strongly about a song select,” Felder said. “Which is, ‘I’m not going to sleep until I get it cleared.’” For me, as a music supervisor, I always feel an incredible responsibility to do everything in my power to ‘get it done,’ and this was no different.”

Vol. 2 of Stranger Things 4 lands next month.

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Not only is one-time online news editor Martin an established rock journalist and drummer, but he’s also penned several books on music history, including SAHB Story: The Tale of the Sensational Alex Harvey Band (opens in new tab), a band he once managed, and the best-selling Apollo Memories (opens in new tab) about the history of the legendary and infamous Glasgow Apollo. Martin has written for Classic Rock and Prog and at one time had written more articles for Louder than anyone else (we think he's second now). He’s appeared on TV and when not delving intro all things music, can be found travelling along the UK’s vast canal network.