The spike in popularity for Kate Bush’s Running Up That Hill is expected to propel her to number one this week. The blockbuster Netflix series Stranger Things has already propelled the 80s ballad to number two.
Its prospects of reaching the top have improved when the Charts implemented a rule that prevents older songs from being penalised if their streaming grow. Running Up That Hill is now the most-streamed song in the United Kingdom, with 700,000 listens per day on Spotify. Those streams would have recorded as 3,500 “sales” in previous weeks. This figure will more than quadruple to 7,000 this week.
That’s all because of an obscure but critical regulation that governs how charts are computed in the streaming era. The Top 40 used to be made up of music that could be purchased at a record store, and every sale was treated equally. If a record label did not press enough copies of a 7-inch or CD single, it could fall off the chart entirely.
In other cases, record labels even stopped producing a hit single in order to persuade fans to buy the album instead (Wet Wet Wet’s Love Is All Around and the Fugees’ Killing Me Softly were both victims of this fate). Check out the official video below:
However, in the streaming era, every song is always available everywhere. This causes a problem for the charts. If streams were measured on a like-for-like basis, classic songs like The Killers’ Mr Brightside would never exit the Top 40, while a modern smash like Ed Sheeran’s Bad Habits is already in its 50th week in the Top 10.
The record industry devised “rapid decline” to give other musicians an opportunity and protect the charts from growing stale. This is how it works. When a new album is streamed 100 times on a subscription service like Apple Music or Spotify Premium, or 600 times on an ad-supported service, it earns one “sale.” However, older songs must receive 200 premium / 1,200 ad-funded streams before a “sell” is recorded.
The song’s popularity may potentially rise further. Stranger Things producers The Duffer Brothers claim that Running Up That Hill will play a larger role in the second half of the current series, which starts in July.
Bush is the only person who knows how the narrative will conclude. According to the brothers, she watches every moment in which her music is featured, and the song has a “very unique location in the conclusion.”
“She’s been nothing but cool,” Ross Duffer remarked. “We keep returning to her, asking, ‘Can we use the music here?’ What about right here? I hope we’re not bothering you!”