Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)” is one of the biggest hits of the summer. It holds at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100, just behind monster hits by Lizzo and Harry Styles.
Fans want to know if there’s any way it could get some attention when the nominations for the 65th Annual Grammy Awards are announced on Nov. 15. In addition to being a major hit, “Running Up That Hill” is the kind of record that Grammy voters often respond to – both classy and accessible.
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Bush first released the recording in 1985, so it won’t be eligible for record of the year, though a live or alternate recording of it could be. The Recording Academy’s current Grammy rule book explains: “A song…must have been released on a recording for the first time, or achieved prominence for the first time, during the current eligibility year.”
How did the song fare with Grammy voters in 1985? It wasn’t even nominated, though it came out fairly late in the eligibility year (on Aug. 5, 1985, less than two months before the eligibility year closed on Sept. 30). It peaked at No. 30 on the Hot 100 on Nov. 30. That’s not bad, but it’s below the level that a record generally needed back then for a nomination in a marquee category.
All five of the 1985 nominees for record of the year were top 10 hits on the Hot 100; three of them were No. 1 hits. Four of the five nominees that year for best pop vocal performance, female were top five hits on the Hot 100. (Long-time Grammy favorite Linda Ronstadt rounded out the category with Lush Life, her follow-up to her smash album What’s New.)
Bush has never been a Grammy favorite. She has received just three nominations and has never won. Moreover, just one of her nominations was for a recording. The other two were for music videos.
Of her 10 studio albums, the only one to receive a Grammy nomination was her sixth album, The Sensual World, which received a 1990 nod for best alternative music performance. In that, the first year of that category, Bush lost to Sinéad O’Connor for I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got.
Bush’s other two nominations were for music videos. “The Whole Story” was nominated for best concept music video (1987), but lost to Genesis’ “Land of Confusion.” “The Line, The Cross & The Curve” was nominated for best music video, long-form (1995), but lost to Peter Gabriel’s Secret World Live.
Bush and Gabriel had a collab, “Don’t Give Up,” on his 1986 album So, which was an album of the year contender. Under current Grammy rules, Bush would be a nominee as a featured artist on the album, but that wasn’t the case back then. The only people who received nominations when So was in the running for album of the year were Gabriel, as the artist and co-producer, and Daniel Lanois, as his co-producer.
The Recording Academy is far more generous nowadays (perhaps to a fault). Grammys for album of the year are awarded to any and all lead and featured artists, songwriters of new material, producers, recording engineers, mixers and mastering engineers. The Grammys draw the line at arrangers and songwriters of sampled or interpolated material, but even they qualify for certificates.
The success of “Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)” could help propel Stranger Things: Music from the Netflix Original Series, Season 4 to a Grammy nomination for best compilation soundtrack for visual media. The companion album to the second season of Stranger Things was nominated in this category four years ago, but lost to The Greatest Showman.
Stranger Things: Music from the Netflix Original Series, Season 4 would be the second compilation soundtrack from a TV show to win in the category, following Boardwalk Empire: Volume 1, which won 10 years ago.
But even if the album wins, Bush would likely not win. The award in this category generally goes to the compilation producer and music supervisor. It goes to the artist only in the event that the artist dominates the album, as Andra Day did last year when The United States vs. Billie Holiday won in the category. With Stranger Things, each of the 16 tracks on the album was recorded by a different artist. From the current rule book: “Award to principal artist(s) with significant contributing performances, and/or in-studio producer(s) of a majority of the tracks on the album. In the absence of those, award to the individual(s) proactively responsible for the concept and musical direction of the album and for the selection of artists, song and producers, as applicable.”
At the rate she’s going, Bush may receive a lifetime achievement award from the Recording Academy before she wins a Grammy in competition. Which, come to think of it, wouldn’t be a bad way to recognize this unique artist and her extraordinary, long-delayed hit.