Stranger Things has given Kate Bush's Running Up That Hill a boost: here are our favourite Scottish soundtracks
These are just a few lyrics from the earworm you’ve possibly had playing incessantly in your head, if you watched season four of Netflix’s Stranger Things.
Along with other Eighties tunes, like Tarzan Boy by Baltimora and Musical Youth’s Pass the Dutchie, Kate Bush’s Running Up That Hill, originally released in 1985 and on the Hounds of Love album, played a major part in the programme. And if you haven’t watched it yet, don’t worry, there are no spoilers ahead.
Since its airing, this song has had something of a renaissance. It has been discovered and celebrated by Generation Z on TikTok, made it to the US Top 10, is number one in Australia and in the iTunes charts, and has been spoofed and played on radio repeatedly.
On Spotify, listens to this 1985 classic jumped 8,700 per cent worldwide between May 26 – the day before the new Stranger Things season was released on Netflix – and May 30.
The song’s success prompted the reclusive Bush to make a statement on her website, where she said the song was “being given a whole new lease of life”.
And with Bush’s anthem leading a list of older tracks receiving a new lease of life, here are a few Scottish classics, albeit the below soundtracks might not have had quite such an instantaneous impact.
Happy Heart by Andy Williams, Shallow Grave (1994)
Director Danny Boyle’s latest The Sex Pistols miniseries biopic, Pistol, might not have received the ravest reviews, but Shallow Grave, set in Edinburgh and starring Ewan McGregor, Kerry Fox and Christoper Eccleston, among others, was an early career highlight. Apparently, Boyle was inspired to include this easy listening track after hearing it playing when he was in a taxi. It’s used ironically at the grim denouement of this comedy noir – “it’s my happy heart you hear, singing loud and singing clear”.
This is Dedicated to the One I Love by The Mamas & the Papas, Morvern Callar (2002)
In this under-rated Lynne Ramsay film, set in Scotland and Spain, and based on the Alan Warner book of the same name, there’s one especially powerful scene. As an illustration of isolation and grief, Callar, played by Samantha Morton, wears headphones to listen to this song at a nightclub, as the party-goers bounce around her and the strobe lights flash. The soundtrack also includes The Velvet Underground, Aphex Twin and Nancy Sinatra.
Lust for Life by Iggy Pop, Trainspotting (1996)
Another Danny Boyle film. He was good at the music thing. As well as Deep Blue Day by Brian Eno, which was used in the worst toilet in Scotland scene, plus Underworld’s Born Slippy, Mile End by Pulp and New Order’s Temptation, this film features a couple of Iggy Pop tracks. The most obvious one is used as a backdrop to the ‘choose life’ speech and running-along-Princes-Street-past-Boots scene that was often recreated by Nineties youth in the capital. A Prodigy remix of the song was also used in the redux, T2 Trainspotting, which some thought was a bit of a turkey, for McGregor’s solo dancing scene at the end of the film.
Touch the Sky by Julie Fowlis, Brave (2012)
It’s not a Scottish film as such, but this Disney/Pixar animation is set in Scotland and the soundtrack includes two heartening songs by this Dingwall-based folk singer, including Into the Open Air. Touch the Sky is the opening tune, and makes us want to get our horse and arrows out, gallop, climb cliffs, and let down our long red hair. Ask the kids about it. They’ll probably know all the lyrics.
Theme from Gregory’s Girl by Colin Tully (1981)
It’s almost exactly a year since Glasgow-born composer and musician Colin Tully died, back in June 2021. He wrote the jazzy opening score to this classic Bill Forsyth film, and it’s a familiar, gentle and lovely tune. While we’re on Bill Forsyth films, there’s also a Stevie Wonder Sunshine of my Life moment in the credits of That Sinking Feeling, which also had music by Colin Tully, and, of course, the Mark Knopfler soundtrack for Local Hero.
Soundtrack by Mica Levi, Under the Skin (2014)
Horror movie fans will have loved this haunting and strange Jonathan Glazer adaptation of the book by Dutch-born Scotland-based author Michel Faber. Sadly, despite starring Scarlett Johansson and being generally brilliant, it bombed at the box office. Well, it’s definitely not Mama Mia. The unsettling electronic soundtrack by Mica Levi (otherwise known as Micachu), which veers from spa relaxing and ambient to making the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, fits perfectly for this science fiction film, which is set in various locations, including Glasgow’s city centre and Loch Lomond.
Over and Done With, in Sunshine on Leith (2013)
This is our favourite and most natural sing-along moment in this crowd-pleasing film adaptation of the musical that celebrates all The Proclaimers hits. The 500 Miles kissing scene is just too cheesy for our cynical sensibilities. Over and Done With is what we want to happen in the pub, with everyone singing and getting on down, rather than watching sport on the telly and complaining about work over a tepid pint.
Keeping on Running by The Spencer Davis Group, Small Faces (1996)
In this film by director Gillies MacKinnon, about Glasgow’s ganglands in the Sixties, we discover that some violent gang members are surprisingly good at speed skating. Just before everything goes horribly Pete Tong in Tongland, everyone is having a lovely time on the rink, with this classic tune playing in the background. It’s a bit grittier than Dancing on Ice.
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