Our Favorite Kate Bush Songs

Our Favorite Kate Bush Songs
Graphics by Kasvi Bhatia

Millions of people are discovering Kate Bush for the first time this summer. If that’s you, this roundup of our music writing staff’s favorite Kate Bush songs is a great place to start uncovering more about her incredibly unique music career. 

Plus, it comes just in time for her birthday! Kate Bush turns 64 this Saturday, and to celebrate, we’re throwing a Kate Bush Birthday Bash on-air, all day Friday, June 29th. We’ll be playing some of the songs below and other iconic songs from Bush’s discography, so make sure you join us by listening to 88.9!

 

“RUNNING UP THAT HILL” 

Album: Hounds of Love - 1985

(For a full read into this favorite Kate bush track, which had a major resurgence in 2022 — 37 years after its release — check out our “Running Up That Hill” pick of the week here.) An excerpt…

After her fourth album The Dreaming didn’t perform as expected, Bush went to work on what would become 1985’s Hounds of Love. She produced the entire album by herself in her home studio using the Fairlight CMI, a new synthesizer that she managed to learn expertly. “Running Up That Hill” is inspired by a gender-swapping. Bush imagines a man and a woman switching lives for a day and what sort of reaction and empathy that would create between them. She first wanted to call the song “A Deal with God,” but her label persuaded her to change the title, claiming that religious countries may not play it with the original title.

 

“BABOOSHKA”

Album: Never for Ever - 1980

If you think about it hard enough, “Babooshka” in its purest essence is the “Piña Colada Song” — with fewer piña coladas, and a much darker twist. “Babooshka,” a track off of Kate Bush’s third record, Never for Ever, tells the story of a woman stuck in an unhappy marriage. She decides to test her husband’s love for her by sending him amorous letters under the pen name “Babooshka.” Though ultimately, “She couldn't have made a worst move,” Bush sings, as the plot ends up foiling the woman’s marriage once and for all as her husband throws all of his passions into corresponding with his mysterious writing partner, exclaiming: “I'm all yours Babooshka, babooshka, babooshka ja, ja.” With a lilting melody that gets stuck in your head in a matter of seconds, “Babooshka” is exemplary of Bush’s enchanting storytelling capabilities and mastery over narrative twists. And while this track proves that love is, at times, temporary, our love for Kate Bush will be everlasting. 

- Sophie Severs, Staff Writer

 

“WUTHERING HEIGHTS”

Album: The Kick Inside - 1978

At just 19 years old, Kate Bush became the first person to have a self-written song reach number one on the UK charts. But what’s so special about this song? She was first inspired to write it after watching the 1967 BBC adaptation of Wuthering Heights and then read the book. She and Emily Bronte also share a birthday, which must be fate. She wrote it from the perspective of a character and a ghost named Catherine – or “Cathy” – begging at her lover Heathcliff’s window to be let in. She used actual pieces of dialogue to construct the lyrics, giving it the same haunted feel that the book tries to encapsulate. The song’s underlying creates a dreamy, dramatic feel while the other instruments ground the sound into reality. Bush’s vocals soar and dip like a bird above it all – vocals she recorded in one take. While there’s a sense of melancholy in the meaning of the song, the sound itself exudes joy, especially the short, but spectacular guitar solo at the end. “Wuthering Heights” has had an enduring legacy on its own. Bush wrote an epitaph for Bronte that was inscribed on a stone at Bronte’s home. Additionally every year since 2016, hundreds of dancers adorned in red garments flock to different locations all over the world for The Most Wuthering Heights Day Ever, where people recreate the “Wuthering Heights” choreography from the music video.

- Tatum Jenkins, Music Coordinator

 

“HOUNDS OF LOVE”

Album: Hounds of Love - 1985

This title track of Kate Bush’s 1985 album and one of her most well-known songs, “Hounds Of Love” tells the story of a person who is afraid of love. Beginning with a snippet from the movie Night Of The Demon, which also partially inspired the song as well, “Hounds Of Love” has her signature unique and detailed lyrics along with an incredibly catchy and distinctive overall sound to the song. In my favorite part of the song, the backing vocals mimic the sounds of howls and immerse the listener even more in the idea that they too are hunted by the hounds of love. It is so unique in the best and most memorable way. Listening through this track, it’s no wonder why Kate Bush continues to be such a musical inspiration!

- Erin Norton, Membership Assistant

 

“CLOUDBUSTING”

Album: Hounds of Love - 1985

Imagine a beautiful summer sky – clouds waltzing across the blue background, a soft breeze rustling the ground below, the sun peeking through the edges of clouds and lining them in gold. That’s what “Cloudbusting” sounds like. She wrote this song about the book A Book of Dreams, which is about Peter Reich and his relationship with his dad Wilhelm Reich, a psychiatrist and philosopher. The Reichs would spend time on their Orgonon farm “cloudbusting”; Wilhelm invented a machine called the cloudbuster that could supposedly make and manipulate rain. Besides the song itself, the music video is quite excellent. Bush plays Peter, the son, and Donald Sutherland plays Wilhelm, who Bush personally asked to be in the video. “Cloudbusting” is ultimately one of my favorite Kate Bush songs because it’s unabashed in its expression of joy, magic, and love.

- Tatum Jenkins, Music Coordinator

 

“THE RED SHOES”

Album: The Red Shoes - 1993

As most of my favorite Kate Bush songs are, “The Red Shoes” is inspired by literature. “The Red Shoes,” written by famous fairytale writer Hans Christian Andersen, inspired “The Red Shoes” movie made in 1948, the film Bush watched and based the song off of. The film loosely interprets the story and maintains its main plot: a dancer obsessed with her craft who’s gifted a pair of red shoes that force her to continue to dance until her death. The song itself sounds like a fairytale with a folk feel; it’s more acoustic than her other work. Unusual instruments such as the mandola, tin whistle, and musical bow are featured on this track and give “The Red Shoes” its whimsical feel. I love the underlying pulse of obsession that lines this song; it almost makes the listener want to give the red shoes a try, no matter its consequences.

- Tatum Jenkins, Music Coordinator

 

“GET OUT OF MY HOUSE”

Album: The Dreaming - 1982

While Kate Bush’s fourth album The Dreaming, released in 1982, didn’t perform as well as anticipated, the closing track, “Get Out of My House,” is a gem worthy of spotlighting. The main reason the record as a whole failed to take off commercially was because of its experimental nature, something very much encapsulated in the haunting sound of “Get Out of My House.” While all of Bush’s music tends to lean into a more creative side than many other artists, this collection of ten songs is widely acknowledged as the most experimental work of her career. Lyrically, in true Kate Bush fashion, most songs on The Dreaming drew directly from literature and other media sources. “Get Out of My House” is no exception, taking inspiration from Steven King’s novel The Shining, which was of course adapted into a thriller film in 1980, one of the most highly-acclaimed Stanley Kubrick masterpieces. Vocal loops, varied rhythms, musical textures, and rather obscure instrumentation all work together to build a multi-dimensional soundscape for the track. A harmonious sound is not the goal, but rather what’s important about this piece is the emotional response it stirs. “Get Out of My House” is sure to stay with you long after your first listen-through. 

- Nora Onanian, Web Services Coordinator

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