The Netflix series “Stranger Things” is back for its fourth season. And how could it be otherwise, this series, charged with nostalgia, has resurrected “Running Up That Hill”, an ’80s pop classic catapulted to the Top Ten of the US Billboard 100, 37 years later.
Music against the curse of the other side
In the new episode, Vecna’s main target is Max. Hawkins’ gang discovers that Max’s only chance of escaping the mystical powers of the creature from the other side is to play his favorite song: “Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)” by Kate Bush. In a way, the song becomes the leitmotif. The mood matches perfectly with the aura of the ever-legendary singer with a clear voice.
Who is Vecna?
Social media, in particular, is full of memes from the show’s leading characters. The star is Vecna, the terrifying monster that wreaks havoc on Hawkins. Vecna lives backwards, feeding off people’s past traumas and guilt. This causes him to experience his trauma in increasingly cruel ways until he violently kills her.
Powered by TikTok’s new generation of fans
Kate Bush described Stranger Things as “(…) a fantastic and compelling series.” The British singer, now 63, is delighted that the song is reaching a younger audience who weren’t even born when it was first released. It has been promoted all over social media networks, in fact a 30-second version of the Stranger Things clip with Max and Vecna has been published on TikTok.
Viral success of a timeless theme
The clip went viral, received millions of clicks in about a week, and was also used by users in more than 500,000 short videos on the music portal. The videos show young people dressed as characters from the Netflix thriller, reenacting scenes or acting out their own scenes. Running Up That Hill is about misfits and despair. Timeless issues affecting teens in 2022 just as much as they did 37 years ago.
Nostalgia is not dandruff
The rapid success of Kate Bush’s pop classic could be a signal to film, television and music producers. After all, the tremendous rush that TikTok-enabled songs and scenes can unleash is combined with the potential to reach a whole new generation with songs from yesterday, here, and now. Short clips with upbeat songs, between 30 and 60 seconds, are more likely to be used on TikTok as a template for user-generated clips than those of a radio-ready song length. Thanks to the youth-dominated format, it is possible to connect generations from different eras.
Second life of music
In fact, “Stranger Things” is hardly the first film to focus on musical nostalgia. For example, “Guardians of the Galaxy” has older tracks like David Bowie’s “Moonage Daydream”, 10cc’s “I’m Not in Love”, The Jackson Five’s “I Want You Back” and many other classics. TikTok challenges and memes have brought many other old songs back to life and given them a second life.
The particularity of TikTok is the interactive aspect of favourite songs and musical heroes. For example, users can access the internal music library, add it to their creative videos, or perform alongside their favorite stars. We are not talking about a streaming service like Apple Music, Spotify or Amazon Music. It is about participating, about being there in the virtual space. This is an intergenerational opportunity that artists and music producers should not miss.
Turning point that unites generations
Along with online exposure, TikTok also generates more radio and television station royalties for artists and publishers. Because despite the growing dominance of streaming, radio remains extremely important to music discovery and success. And from the example of Kate Bush and the Netflix series Stranger Things, we see that the music of the old generation can be new for each next generation. Just wrap it up properly, in either a 30-sec video or a Netflix series, with the right context. The fact that a song that hasn’t been played for decades suddenly reappears is even described by a Warner Music official as a “turning point”.