cropt up again

Running Up That Hill

"Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God)" was the first single from Kate Bush's 1985 album Hounds of Love. Written by Bush, it was released as a single in the UK on August 5, 1985, with the album appearing on shelves on September 16, 1985. It was her first 12" single, and her second single to feature gatefold packaging. It was the most successful of Bush's 1980s releases, eventually peaking at the number three position in the UK singles chart, her second-highest single release there. The single also had a great impact in the United States, providing Bush with her first hit to chart since 1978. It reached the top 30, and featured prominently within the Dance Charts.

The B-side of the 7" single contains Bush's song "Under the Ivy". The 12-inch single is an extended remix of "Running Up That Hill", and the B-side also has an instrumental version, as well as "Under the Ivy".

Song information

Originally titled, "A Deal with God", representatives at EMI were hesitant to release the song, as they feared the title could have prevented radio play, especially in the United States. Because the singles from her previous release, The Dreaming, had done so poorly in the charts, Bush relented and changed the title. The executives of EMI initially wanted to release another song, "Cloudbusting", as the lead single from the album. Bush successfully convinced them to release "Running Up That Hill" first, citing that it was the first song to be written for the album, and felt that it better represented the broader feel for "Hounds of Love".

The song itself has often been misinterpreted. Kate Bush herself has said,

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 others place for a while, I think we'd both be very surprised! [Laughs] And I think it would be lead to a greater understanding. And 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. You see, for me it is still called "Deal With God", that was its title. But we were told that if we kept this title that it wouldn't be played in any of the religious countries, Italy wouldn't play it, France wouldn't play it, and Australia wouldn't play it! Ireland wouldn't play it, and that generally we might get it blacked purely because it had 'God' in the title.

Musically, the background vocal chants ("e-yo") are almost identical to singing in classical Japanese musical theatre such as Noh, and the prominent drumming pattern appears to be influenced by Japanese taiko. A less highbrow analysis reveals the drum pattern to bear a striking resemblance to Sylvia's 1973 hit song, "Pillow Talk". Both songs deal quite frankly with the subject of lovemaking. The rhythm would show up again in 1987 on Fleetwood Mac's "Big Love" single, which also explores sexual politics in its lyrics.

Music video

The music video featured Bush and dancer Michael Hervieu, in a tightly choreographed piece. Bush felt that in most music videos, "dancing happened around the artist, but never truly involved the artist at all". She wanted the dancing in "Running Up That Hill" to be more of a classical performance, and therefore enlisted Dyanne Gray, a dance teacher Bush had been working with.

The dance draws upon contemporary dance with a repeated gesture suggestive of drawing a bow and arrow (the gesture was made literal on the image for the single in which Bush poses with a real bow and arrow). At the climax of the song, Bush's partner unexpectedly withdraws from her. In a surreal sequence, both are swept away down a long hall in opposite directions by an endless stream of anonymous figures wearing masks that are pictures of Bush and Hervieu's faces.

MTV however, chose not to show this video and instead used a live performance of the song recorded at a promotional appearance on the BBC TV show Wogan). This was possibly due to the fact that the original video contains no actual performance or lip-synching of the song, or more likely they simply felt the original video too highbrow or sexually charged for their audience.

In popular culture

The song can be heard during the final credits of the 1988 film The Chocolate War. English band Coldplay claims the drum beat of this song inspired their single "Speed of Sound".

Other versions

The song has been described as paving the way for the experimentation apparent in 1990s rock. It has been covered by acts in various genres. Trance and house music acts, such as Elastic Band, Infusion, and Armin Van Buuren have performed versions of the song, as have cabaret groups such as Kiki and Herb, who have performed the song throughout their career, and used the song as the closing number in their 2004 sold-out "farewell performance" at Carnegie Hall. Symphonic metal act Within Temptation has covered the song and released it as a separate single in 2003.

"Running Up That Hill" has also been incorporated into other songs by artists in live performance. Pink Floyd, and American alternative rock singer-songwriter and pianist Tori Amos have sung verses of the song during her live tours, often working certain lines of the song into her cover of The Cure's "Lovesong" in her 1996 tour, and sometimes plays a part of the song before and another part after performing her own song "God" in her 2005 tour.

The Portuguese gothic metal rock band ICON and the Black Roses have also covered "Running Up That Hill" for their self-titled debut album.

Oregon based Chromatics covered the song on their 2007 album 'Night Drive'.

Placebo version

Alternative rock band, Placebo covered "Running Up That Hill", releasing it originally on the bonus disc of their 2003 album Sleeping with Ghosts. The song had a fairly low profile for some time before attracting further attention in 2006, after Placebo began to include it in their set whilst touring to promote Meds.

"Running Up That Hill" was released as a single in October, 2006, and was included on the re-released version of Meds in 2007, along with the song, 'UNEEDMEMORETHANINEEDU'. It was then included on Covers, a rerelease of the Sleeping With Ghosts bonus disc.

Placebo's take on the song is more downbeat than the original, and focuses more on instrumentation. It has been described by Q Magazine as 'sound[ing] more like a pact with the Devil' than the original 'deal with God'.

The Placebo cover was feautered in the CSI: Crime Scene Investigation episode A La Cart.

The cover was also used in the Bones second season episode Judas on a Pole and in the fourth season of the popular hit tv dramaThe OC


Chart (1985) Peak
UK Singles Chart 3
German Singles Chart 3
Irish Singles Chart 4
Australian Singles Chart 6
Canadian Singles Chart 16
French Singles Chart 24
New Zealand Singles Chart 26
US Billboard Hot 100 Chart 30


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