A Week of Kate Bush

In my diary, I have a running list of women I would like to be best friends with. At the head of that list (underneath Hillary Rodham Clinton, but above Beyoncé) is Kate Bush; the crazy-eyed Queen of British Pop, ballerina, composer, actor, and inventor of an iconic haircut. We would bond over our really high voices and love of make-it-up-as-you-go dance moves.

Last week was the 7th anniversary of the first time I listened to Kate Bush. But it wasn’t until I watched the music videos that accompanied her songs that I fell in love. Take the idiosyncrasy and gender ambiguity of 80’s Prince, and mix that with a goth Tinkerbell — you’ve got the cinematic aesthetic of Kate Bush. It’s a blend of whimsy and terror that can only come from a trusty Catholic school-girl education (which I know all about). Here’s a list of my seven favourite Kate Bush videos applied to different days of the week.

Running up that Hill Monday (1985)

What better way to start the week than by taking a run at it? In this lavender-hued contemporary dance cover of an original Placebo song, Kate Bush shows us how to take on our trials (in my case, a 9 to 5 work week) and even switches bodies with her sexy, mullet-haired, male dance partner (to explore empathy between the sexes). My favourite part is how the drum beat sounds like a hammering heart beat, Kate Bush trying to run against a crowd of man-masked women. Confusing gender politics aside, I’ve always considered this video to be inspirational, like I could make a deal with God to make Friday come faster.

Cloudbusting Tuesday (1985)

This video stars Canadian actor Donald Sutherland, which should be enough to make you press play immediately. Sutherland plays the 1930’s-era psychologist Wilhelm Reich, while Bush prances around, playing the part of his son Peter. “Cloudbusting” has a double meaning: First, it refers to the rainmaking “cloudbuster” machine that the two attempt to build, and secondly; it’s a Bushian term for that moment in adolescence when you discover your parents aren’t perfect. If not for the song, watch this video for a lesson in the history of psychoanalysis (“It’s you and me, daddy,” she whispers throughout the bridge).

Wuthering Heights Wednesday (1978)

This might be my favourite music video of all time. In it, Bush dances out her own version of Wuthering Heights, playing the part of Kathy in an unforgettable red dress. This was her first single, which topped UK charts when she was only 19, and is commonly considered one of the hardest songs to sing. Ever. But Bush does it perfectly. “Heathcliff!” she wails, “It’s me, Kathy. I’ve come home,” all the while prancing like a gypsy to the strumming of a spicy electric guitar riff in the woods. In the outro, Bush waves goodbye, her whole body leaning back and forth like a tree. With classic 1970s special effects, her image fades in an out, ghostly, like Kathy haunting the moors.

This Woman’s Work Thursday (1989)

Who needs to be happy on Thursday? This song is devastating and so is the video that accompanies it.

Don’t Give Up Friday (1986)

It’s almost the weekend! Only a couple hours to go before we’re all gossiping about our co-workers over beer! If Peter Gabriel hugged me for a full 6 minutes, I wouldn’t give up either, Kate.

Hounds of Love Saturday (1986)

The perfect song to listen to while getting ready for a night on the town, while dancing on the couch. In the video, Bush is afraid to fall in love, though love is coming for her (“through the woods”). She finally runs away in the night with a handsome detective. She “takes her shoes off and throws them in the lake” leaping feet-first into love. In a fanciful plot twist, it turns out Bush and the detective are actually leaping into a party thrown in their honor, until some more detectives show up on the scene and she begins tangoing with one of them. Unlike other Kate Bush videos, this one ends as optimistically as any Saturday night should begin. I’ve been trying to master that updo in the opening scene for years.

Breathing Sunday (1980)

Somehow, this video encapsulates both the obligatory beginning-of-the-week panic attack, while providing instructions on how to avoid it. Bush sings the majority of the song in a cellophane bubble-womb, commanding us to breathe in and out along with her. Like Bush, I want to stay in the bubble of the weekend too, and I spend most of my Sundays avoiding the thought of Monday. However, I don’t think Bush and I are inhabiting the same bubble, as upon escaping the bubble, Bush appears to enter some sort of nuclear apocalypse. In one song, she condenses the entire experience of breathing — both a source of anxiety and a precious gift.

 Follow Shannon Tien on Twitter.

1 Comment

  1. uk bloke
    March 5, 2015

    I really need to point out that I started reading your article with great interest until you state that the Kate Bush version of running up that hill (1985) was a cover of an original placebo song -placebo version (2003) unless Kate Bush has discovered the secret of time travel I would seriously reconsider your career as a journalist! Even a simple check on the copywriting credits on either artists album would state Kate Bush wrote the song, so why would she cover a song she had written for a rock band 18 years before they release -too wit check your facts first

Post Comment