The top 15 Kate Bush songs of all time

30 July 2018, 16:31 | Updated: 31 July 2018, 14:15

Kate Bush
Picture: Getty

By Tom Eames

From 'Wuthering Heights' to 'Running Up That Hill'...

There's never been another pop star quite like Kate Bush.

It's a hard task picking just 15 of the singer-songwriter's best ever songs across 10 albums and beyond, but we've given it a go to celebrate her 60th birthday.

  1. 'Wow'

    From her Lionheart album in 1978, Kate later revealed that this song is about the music business.

    "Not just rock music but show business in general. It was sparked off when I sat down to try to write a Pink Floyd song – something spacey."

  2. 'The Sensual World'

    This song is from Kate's 1989 album of the same name, and is inspired by Molly Bloom stepping out of the two-dimensional pages of James Joyce's Ulysses into the real world.

    It was originally supposed to be Molly Bloom's speech (from the end of Ulysses) set to music, but Bush could not secure the rights from the Joyce estate, so she altered it. In 2011, the Joyce estate granted her license, and Bush re-recorded the song as 'Flower of the Mountain', on 2011's Director's Cut album.

  3. 'Another Day' (with Peter Gabriel)

    Originally by Roy Harper, Kate Bush teamed up with Peter Gabriel for this one-off performance on her 1979 Christmas TV special. A single release in 1980 was considered, but the idea was abandoned.

    It tells the story of an old affair recollected in the home of an ex-lover, with regrets on both sides, such as desires for children, which never came to pass. For a brief moment it seems an old passion is being rekindled, but instead they decide to part ways.

  4. 'Hounds of Love'

    This was the title track of Kate's 1985 album, and is about being afraid to fall in love, with feeling being compared to being chased by a pack of hounds.

    The music video (directed by Bush herself) was inspired by Alfred Hitchcock's film The 39 Steps, and Hitchcock also features in the video.

  5. 'Under the Ivy'

    Kate Bush recorded this song as a B-side to her 1985 song ‘Running Up That Hill’.

    Tracey Thorn recorded a cover in 2014, with husband and Everything But the Girl colleague Ben Watt on piano, and a string arrangement by Nick Ingman. She said: “That feeling of concealment is particularly relevant to this lyric, which is all about privacy and intimacy, meeting someone in a safe and secret place. It could be about a lover of course, but I also think it partly describes Kate Bush as an artist.”

  6. 'Army Dreamers'

    This was the third and final single from her Never for Ever. It is about the effects of war and a mother who grieves for her young adult son, who was killed in the military. Distraught by his unnecessary death, she wrestles with her guilt over what she could have done to stop it.

    The song is in the style of a waltz, which was a vast change to Bush's previous singles.

  7. 'Don't Give Up' (with Peter Gabriel)

    Bush and Gabriel recorded this duet for Peter's 1986 album So. He wrote lyrics about a man whose unemployment causes stress in his relationship. The verses, sung by Gabriel, describe the man's feelings of isolation and despair, while the choruses, sung by Bush, give words of hope and encouragement.

    Gabriel originally wrote the song with Dolly Parton in mind to sing it with him. However, Parton turned it down, so his friend Kate Bush took her place.

  8. 'December Will Be Magic Again'

    Released in 1980, this one-off single was a Christmas-themed track that should have been a bigger hit at the time.

    It was the first song she had recorded at Abbey Road Studios, and has since been included on various Christmas compilations.

  9. 'Cloudbusting'

    From the Hounds of Love album, this song is about the close relationship between psychologist and philosopher Wilhelm Reich and his young son, Peter, told from the point of view of an older Peter.

    It describes the boy's memories of his life on the family farm, where the two spent time "cloudbusting", a rain-making activity which involved pointing at the sky a machine designed and built by Reich. Not your obvious chart hit!

  10. 'Babooshka'

    Released in 1980, Kate later revealed that this song is about a wife's desire to test her husband's loyalty. She takes on the pseudonym of 'Babooshka' and sends notes to her husband.

    "I'm sure I heard about it on some TV series years ago, when I was a kid," she later said. "You know, these period things that the BBC do. I think it's an extraordinary thing for someone to do… That's why I found it fascinating."

  11. 'Moments of Pleasure'

    This heartbreaking song was the second single from 1993's The Red Shoes.

    In it, Kate remembers friends and family who have died, including guitarist Alan Murphy, film director Michael Powell, dancer Gary Hurst, lighting engineer Bill Duffield and others. Composer Michael Kamen arranged and conducted the orchestra for the song.

  12. 'Wuthering Heights'

    Written by Kate Bush when she was 18, this song is based on the novel of the same name by Emily Brontë. She was inspired by the last ten minutes of a 1967 BBC mini-series, and then read the book and discovered she shared her birthday with Brontë.

    It is sung from Catherine’s point of view, as she pleads at Heathcliff’s window to be allowed in. The guitar solo is played by Ian Bairnson, known for his work with Alan Parsons.

  13. 'This Woman's Work'

    Kate Bush wrote and recorded this song in 1989, with the lyrics centring on being forced to confront an unexpected and frightening crisis during the normal event of childbirth, written from the male partner’s point of view.

    She said: “It’s exploring his sadness and guilt, suddenly it’s the point where he has to grow up. He’d been such a wally up to this point.”

  14. 'Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God)'

    EMI bosses were hesitant to release the song with its original title of 'A Deal with God' due to possible negative reactions because of its use of the word 'God'. Bush relented and changed the title.

    The song itself has often been misinterpreted. Bush later said: "I was trying to say that, really, a man and a woman can't understand each other because we are a man and a woman. And if we could actually swap each other's roles, if we could actually be in each other's place for a while, I think we'd both be very surprised!

    "And really the only way I could think it could be done was either... you know, I thought a deal with the devil. And I thought, 'well, no, why not a deal with God!' Because in a way it's so much more powerful the whole idea of asking God to make a deal with you. You see, for me it is still called "Deal With God", that was its title."

  15. 'The Man with the Child in His Eyes'

    Kate wrote this song when she was 13 and recorded it at the age of 16, at mentor David Gilmour’s expense. She later said that recording with a large orchestra at that age terrified her.

    The song tells of a relationship between a young girl and an older man. She sees him as an all-consuming figure; he’s wise yet retains a certain innocent quality. In 2010, it was revealed to have been written about Steve Blacknell, her then-boyfriend. He later said after hearing the song: “I realised there and then that I was in love with a genius.”