Stranger Things Had To Run Up More Than A Hill To Get The Rights To The Kate Bush Song That Created The Viral TikTok Trend Of The Summer

Max (Sadie Sink) in Stranger Things Season 4 listening to Kate Bush
(Image credit: Netflix)

We’ve all heard Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” so much since the release of the Netflix hit Stranger Things Season 4 that we either want to make a “deal with God” to either replay it as much as possible or get as far away as we can. The song has blown up both the charts and TikTok but, this wasn’t an overnight sleeper hit. It took years to work out a deal to get the song into the show. 

Tim Miles, the senior VP sync, U.K. and Europe at Warner Music Group, told THR that getting music deals for TV shows is difficult and with Stranger Things in particular it was more challenging than usual. 

It’s not like advertising where we get a very quick ‘Can we use this song?’ and we have to work out if we can and if they can afford it. TV has a very long timeline. And because the music was so crucial to this scene, they had to know whether the song could be used. And it took about two years to really talk through with Kate and her team what this was going to be. This is probably the longest TV negotiation I have ever seen, because they had to get it right. The song is obviously so powerful. They must have had some backups, but I’m sure this was their absolute favorite.

This proved to be true. The internet was buzzing over the scene — SPOILERS AHEAD — of Max being elevated into the air and only the power of Kate Bush could bring her down. Now, viewers are anxiously awaiting Season 5 to see if Max lives, but the show’s creators have said they’re not feeling too positive about her odds.

Artists tend to be cautious when making deals to put their music in shows, especially on streaming shows where it will live forever. Obviously, this negotiation period was worth it. The overwhelming success of the song has reignited an interest in Kate Bush and she’s thrilled about it.

It helps that the show the song was used for is one of the biggest shows of the year, it even helped elevate streaming to new heights in the ratings.

The song peaked at No. 1 on the global Billboard charts in July and has been a mainstay on TikTok and the radio ever since. Over 2.8 million TikToks have been created with “Running Up That Hill” as the background song. This situation is comparable to how “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” broke music records, largely thanks to TikTok, when Encanto was released on Disney+.

It seems like “Running Up That Hill” is running a marathon rather than a sprint because nearly two months after the release of Stranger Things Season 4 it’s still all over the place. Production on Season 5 is just getting started, so it’s safe to say we’ll be running up that hill a little bit longer while we wait to see what nostalgic song becomes the next viral sensation.

Riley Utley
Weekend Editor

Riley Utley is the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. She has written for national publications as well as daily and alt-weekly newspapers in Spokane, Washington, Syracuse, New York and Charleston, South Carolina. She graduated with her master’s degree in arts journalism and communications from the Newhouse School at Syracuse University. Since joining the CB team she has covered numerous TV shows and movies -- including her personal favorite shows Ted Lasso and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. She also has followed and consistently written about everything from Taylor Swift to Fire Country, and she's enjoyed every second of it.