July 30th is a big day in our dramatic sad-girl diaries as we celebrate the birthday of the one and only Kate Bush. A cult figure that floated into the UK music scene in the 70s, dramatically divided opinions, and then disappeared from public life, Kate Bush is best known for her uber theatrical style. With every song feeling like a mini-opera, and each video a strange short film, her back catalogue is bold and boisterous. From the terrifying voices in Waking The Witch to the sob-inducing crooning on This Woman’s Work, there’ s a lot to contend with when you press shuffle. But in between the highs and the lows, some of her finest work is getting lost. Doing our best to bring about some justice, here are the most underrated Kate Bush tracks that deserve better.
#1 Rocket’s Tail
Rocket’s Tail is one of Kate’s best rock power ballads and it deserves more attention. Starting with her signature wailing the track explodes into something huge as the power in her voice is let loose with a heavy guitar riff unlike anything else, she delivered. It’s baffling that this song managed to sink to lesser-known status as I think it’s actually one of her more mainstream and palatable options being grounded by a solid, consistent drumline and showing her vocal talent without straying too far down the winding path of dramatics. Overall, Rocket’s Tail is an absolute headbanger and that first face-slapping guitar riff is a major producer of serotonin for me.
The entirety of Endless Sky Of Honey, the name of the long narrative track that fills the 2nd half of Aerial, is underrated. A concept piece that takes you from morning to light, featuring Kate doing bird noises and her son Bertie trying his best to match up, the whole thing is worthy of more respect as one of the most impressive and cohesive things she’s ever made. Since the 2018 remaster, the long piece has been split up into individual songs, scattering weird unsatisfying pieces of weak instrumental throughout her Spotify. However, Sunset is the one track that stands up on its own starting as a crisp and mature vocal performance and floating up into euphoria, think the Eat The Music Spanish guitars but with lyrics that don’t make you cringe. The only thing to hate about this track is yourself, boiling over with regret that you never got the chance to see it live during her 2014 shows.
#3 Symphony in Blue
Symphony in Blue is a perfect display of Kate Bush’s incredibly rich lyricism, tying full visuals up with playful performance. As with the other tracks on Lionheart, Symphony in Blue is theatrical, however, this track lets the lyrics and Kate’s voice lead the way with a more stripped back instrumental of a classic, almost-jazzy accompaniment. Add it to your playlists just for the moment when young Kate croons ‘The more I think about sex, the better it gets’.
#4 Why Should I Love You?
As Kate’s most listenable album, all the tracks on The Red Shoes could make this list, each one being perfected and crafted to the unique balance of delicious and weird that only Kate can achieve. However, Why Should I Love You deserved to go down as one of the greatest songs of its time, or at least to be considered as one of her best creations as the moment when the choir joins her for the chorus is simply glorious. With the choir then dropping into a churchy echo, perfectly paired with Kate’s Jesus-heavy imagery on the record with tracks like Lily and Song of Solomon, this song is hugely unrated as one of her more mainstream yet still highly conceptual tracks. Disgusted that no ones ever did a proposal flashmob to this, and to any suitors, please start choreographing.
#5 Top Of The City
I couldn’t settle for just one track from The Red Shoes as long as Top Of The City keeps being disrespected in the way it does. Serving as a 4minute long rock opera, Top Of The City is emotive in a very Kate way, weaving in super specific narrative imagery with more universal feelings. All of that is to say that you can cry over your break up to Top Of The City and not have to feel as lame about it. While some may shrug off this track as shouty, I think this is one of the times when Kate’s performative vocal range levels up a track to no end, as when you’re in the right mood, her wailing of ‘I don’t know if you love me or not’ is going to get the waterworks flowing.
#6 Running Up That Hill
Before you even start, I’m talking specifically about this 12” special 2018 remaster release which should immediately replace the original Hounds Of Love version in all your playlists. Sitting at the 5:50 mark, extended from the original 4:59, something about this rerelease elevates a song that we all thought couldn’t be improved upon. Regardless, I think Running Up That Hill is underrated and deserves to be recognised as one of the best-written songs in the world if just for the simple genius of the lyric ‘let’s exchange the experience’ written in a breakup song. The lyrics are haunting and powerful as Kate manages to portray the pain of a relationship breakdown into the most basic yet sensory lyrics where you don’t have to know what she’s on about but something inside you feels it. This 2018 remaster levels it up by giving the lyrics more space, allowing them to be more haunting forcing you to listen. The reverb of ‘you don’t want to hurt me’ sends shivers down my spine, levelling up the goosebumps we all feel when we hear the original.
#7 Them Heavy People
If you ever feel sad, watch the video for Them Heavy People and I can assure you you’ll feel better the second she does that little shoulder shimmy. As with a lot of Kate’s first album tracks, Them Heavy People is weirdly crafted as she exploded into the music world in a glorious chaotic whirlwind. However, perk up your ears and these early releases already have the full imagery that she’d develop on throughout her career. Them Heavy People is a perfect showing of that set against an almost ska, reggae beat and finished off with a catchy chorus that will be stuck in your head. Them Heavy People is reason no.1 why there should be more Kate Bush club nights and why I would have to be dragged off the dance floor.
#8 Jig Of Life
Reason no.2 is Jig Of Life, a weird satanic Irish folk track that comes at the climax of The Ninth Wave, the name of the 2nd side narrative on Hounds Of Love. The Ninth Wave is Kate’s own titanic story, following a woman as she floats in the sea after a shipwreck, battling to stay away and drifting in and out of dreams as she waits for help. Jig Of Life is the woman’s future self-begging her to stay alive, hence the beautiful chaos it descends into as one of Kate’s biggest and most euphoric tracks. Written in Ireland and weaved with the poetry and music of the country, featuring the music of her brother and their friends, Jig Of Life is typical Kate weirdness but with a massive side order of pure joy, feeling like an authentically made song in a back catalogue that is always considered and crafted. The breakdown feels like a moment where Kate’s love of music and her super musical upbringing comes to the forefront, like a little moment of herself peeking through a very narrative album. Also, makes you want to dance.
#9 Song Of Solomon
Go ahead and add this into your steamy playlist where it belongs. Song Of Solomon is Kate’s ultimate sexy biblical re-interpretation, rewriting the famous Song Of Solomon into a frank, no messing about love song that manages to say every sentiment you want to say to a lover across in 4 minutes. The simple chorus of ‘don’t want your bullshit, just want your sexuality’ already deserves to get why more love, but the intricate weaving of bible verses into the song are another display of Kate Bush’s incredible use of literature in her music. The wailing bridge accompanied by the church choir is beautifully crafted in the same way as Why Should I Love You, but also far quieter and sexier than anything else in her discography as her moaning ‘I’ll do it for you’ will make you want to stop ghosting people’s messages and experience god-willing love.
#10 Mother Stands For Comfort
JUSTICE FOR MOTHER STANDS FOR COMFORT. I can’t think about it too much or I upset myself over how disgustingly underrated this track is, despite being an absolute lyrical masterpiece and easily one of Kate Bush’s most angelic vocal performances. Mother Stands For Comfort stops you in your tracks, reminding you that Kate Bush’s voice is rich and beautiful, not just a theatrical gimmick. Still having the same weird narrative touch on the lyrics, something about this track is so haunting and almost upsetting as the clean vocal performance as she sings ‘make me do this, make me do that’ so softly makes me want to weep. This feels like a rare vulnerable track for Kate and honestly deserves more. I want to go back in time, find Mother Stands For Comfort Kate and hug her, then come back to the present and continue screaming about how you should add it to your playlist right now.