Kate Bush is one of the most important female musicians of all time. As an innovator and producer of her own sound, she's sort of like the female Prince. It's about the unitard. It's about her googly eyeballs and interpretative dance moves, her music videos, and her way with a synthesizer. It's about this 5 foot 3 woman standing up to the music industry and her refusal to let anyone make her be sexier than she wanted to be–which was plenty sexy as long as it was on her own terms. Bush's ninth studio album, Director's Cut, debuted today at #2 in the UK. It's a re-imagining of some songs from 1989's The Sensual World and 1993's Red Shoes, and it's a good opportunity to revisit her legacy. Here are The Top 10 Reasons To Love Kate Bush.
10. “Wuthering Heights” off 1978's The Kick Inside was the first song written and performed by a woman to reach #1 on UK charts. She was 19. The song and the dance moves from the music video went on to be performed by millions of women and men in front of their mirrors, many of which can be found on Youtube- here's one fan's.
9. Her 1980 album Never For Ever was the first to feature the Fairlight CMI synthesizer, which she was given by Peter Gabriel. It became her first #1 album and the first ever album by a British female solo artist to enter the UK charts at #1. Gabriel gave her the synth which distinguished her as a musician and producer. He also gave her a hug that lasted an entire song in 1986.
(Check out Lady Gaga's version.)
8. When she was 16, Bush made a demo tape of no less than 50 songs which a family friend gave to Pink Floyd's Dave Gilmour, who in turn got her attention from EMI's Terry Slater, the man also responsible for signing The Sex Pistols. Bush spent the next two years finishing school before recording her first album with EMI. She's always done things on her own time schedule, which is why 12 years passed between the release of Red Shoes and Aerial in 2005, while she dedicated herself to being a mom. That's a role model!
7. She has only done one concert tour during her career. It's a bummer for fans but it's also the stuff that makes a legend. The “Tour of Life” began in April 1979 and lasted six weeks. The concerts featured her inimitable dancing, 17 costume changes each show, a production designed by Bush, and magician Simon Drake. Bush got her moves from studying mime (hence those big expressive eyeballs), karate, and took dance instruction from the same teacher as David Bowie.
6. The first ever hands-free headset mic was created so that Bush could dance and wave her arms around while she performed. It was fashioned from a wire coat-hanger. The Swedish group Spotnicks had tried to make one in the early 1960s, but Bush's was better.
5. At a concert for the Prince's Trust, Kate Bush performed “The Wedding List” backed by Phil Collins on drums and Pete Townsend on guitar. About three and a half minutes into the song, Bush's shirt straps broke and she performed the rest gracefully holding up her boobs without missing a beat or a wide-eyed yelp. That's much more refined than Janet Jackson's pastee moment.
4. Kate Bush is a woman's woman. In an interview with NME magazine in 1982, Bush criticised EMI for selling her 19 year old self as a boob attraction rather than a musician to be reckoned with: “People weren't even generally aware that I wrote my own songs or played the piano. The media just promoted me as a female body. It's like I've had to prove that I'm an artist in a female body.”
3. According to the Guardian, she did the greatest cover of all time, that of Elton John's “Rocket Man.” Once again, she sets the bar for expressionist music videos, and she rocks a ukulele.
2. She's the queen of lyrical references. Bush has always drawn upon stories, historical figures, literary characters, and infinite numbers for song content. She wrote songs inspired by James Joyce, the number “π” (Bush sings the number to 115 decimal places in her song, “π”), The Shining, Night Of The Demon, Truffaut, and even Hitler. Imagine, dancing the night away only to discover that you've been cavorting with a Nazi leader…
But the number one reason to love Kate Bush?
1. It's always been about the music. Rather than re-issue an album to get a few bucks out of it, Director's Cut is the work and dream of an artist, first and foremost. You can hear the difference in this warm analogue recording and feel every “whop bam boom” the way it was meant to be heard. Just try making it through more than a minute without finding your every movement exaggerated by a little “poetry in motion.” Try doing the laundry without twirling.
The word on the street is that new music is on the way … someday in the near to distant future. We'll wait. In the meantime, she has a reworked version of “Deeper Understanding,” a song she wrote in 1989 about computer love, which eerily predicted our future/current obsession with virtual reality. If you address your computer by a pet name, this song's for you.