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••• The International Writers Magazine - 23 Years on-line - Music and TV

Running Up That Hill
• Sam Hawksmoor
The power of soundtracks

Kate Bush & Max

 I was curious as to why Kate Bush’s ‘Running up that hill’ was riding so high in the charts.  After all it only makes a brief appearance when Max is heading to the see the school therapist in episode one of Stranger Things (Series 4). Running up that Hill was a favourite from my past. So how did an 80's song make such an impact?

Then along comes Episode 4 - WOW!  Talk about building tension. Max ends up in the graveyard kind of apologising to her dead brother and is captured by the evil demon.  Her friends are desperately try to wake her from a trance and finally resort to clamping her favourite song to her ears.  You’ve guessed it.  The juxtaposition of ‘Running up that hill’ in the very dark graveyard scene is astonishing. The scene is sheer brilliance and you are totally engaged.  Stranger Things is always dark, cleverly contrasting knockabout humour with harsh violence and desperate situations the characters have to overcome, but this was masterful TV drama and shows just why Stranger Things has a hold on people of all ages.  ‘Kate Bush saved your life’ one of the kid’s remarks later and how many songs can you say that of. 

I was thinking about this as I grappled to get to sleep last night.  Since the pandemic I’m seeing less movies in the cinema. It’s not fear, it’s just I’m not so engaged by what’s on offer  (Everything Everywhere aside).  I’m happy for Tom Cruise to have his biggest success so far but I haven’t quite got to the theatre yet.  My fault entirely.

I’m rarely able to find anything I want to watch on free to air TV and to be honest there is a lot of dross on Netflix as well.  However when something blows you away such as Squid Game or Stranger Things, you are seriously in awe of the production values and emotional depth. You become incredibly invested with the plight of the characters.

Similarly the same emotional engagement occurred with the Borgen revival on Netflix. Obviously it isn't kids stuff but nevertheless is compulsive viewing. It’s hard to say exactly why Danish politics can be so gripping but perhaps we are subconsciously absorbing of all the crazy power plays that Trump and De Santis are doing in the USA and the flagrant abuses of power Boris is getting away with in the UK.  We know all about power plays and compromises. Obviously there will be dramas being written right now about Jan 6th in the USA and Partygate in the UK, so meanwhile we watch fictitious Danish politics as a primer for the real thing when it finally airs. 

I’m not sure of what should be on the Jan 6th invasion soundtrack however.  The Ride of the Valkyries comes to mind, it worked for Frances Coppola in Apocalypse Now. But as Stranger Things demonstrates, choose the right track and combine it with brilliant writing - it can affect audiences in many ways and produce a No 1 hit.

Stranger Things 4 Meanwhile I must ready myself for Episode 7 of Stranger Things ...

© Sam Hawksmoor June 18th 2022

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