“Stranger Things” music supervisor Nora Felder emerged victorious at Sunday’s Creative Arts Emmys, winning Outstanding Music Supervision for the season 4 episode “Dear Billy,” the one that made a nearly 40-year-old Kate Bush song a hit again. In her acceptance speech, Felder gave a special thanks to Bush (and Metallica, whose music also appeared in season 4).
The episode prominently features Bush’s 1985 song “Running Up That Hill (Make a Deal with God),” empowering the character Max (Sadie Sink) to fight back against evil. After the series’ fourth season dropped on Netflix in May, the track started charting around the world, propelled in no small part by chatter on social media. It reached No. 1 on iTunes and by July, the “Running Up That Hill” video had hit 100 million YouTube views. (As of this writing, it’s now up to 127 million.)
Felder chose the track because she felt the lyrics perfectly captured Max’s experience. As she told Variety, “In the face of Max’s painful isolation and alienation from others, a ‘deal with god’ could heart-wrenchingly reflect Max’s implicit belief that only a miracle of unlikely understanding and show of support could help her climb the hills of life before her. In Max’s situation, the need for a ‘deal with god’ can perhaps be metaphorically understood as a desperate cry for love — to manifest the extraordinary understanding and support Max needed while feeling so painfully alone.”
Securing the song was a huge coup for Felder, who previously had been nominated for her work on “Stranger Things” three times. Bush is famously protective of her music and rarely grants permission for its use in movies and television.
But it turned out that the musician has been a “Stranger Things” fan from the beginning, so when Felder’s request reached her, she approved. The decision ended up giving new life to the song, the first single off her 1985 album “Hounds of Love.” In an interview with BBC One in June, Bush said, “I thought that the track would get some attention. But I just never imagined that it would be anything like this. It’s so exciting. But it’s quite shocking really, isn’t it? I mean, the whole world’s gone mad.
“What’s really wonderful I think is that this is a whole new audience. In a lot of cases, they’ve never heard of me. And I love that. The thought of all these really young people hearing the song for the first time and discovering it is, well, I think it’s very special.
“I thought, what a lovely way for the song to be used in such a positive way,” she added. “You know, as a kind of talisman almost for Max. And yeah, I think it’s very touching, actually.”