Next month sees the release of a new album by Kate Bush. At 52 years old she remains substantially cooler than artists half her age. Here’s why...
She’s more punk than most punk bands
As soon as she hit number one with her debut single ‘Wuthering Heights’ in 1978 Bush told her label EMI to go shove it. Not literally - she is still signed to them today - but has effectively said no to her label’s every suggestion as to how her career should progress ever since. They wanted a compliant pop pin-up in a revealing bodysuit. She wanted to be depicted being chased by dogs through the trees via the medium of dance. She won. She’s basically the Fugazi of pre-Raphaelite/post-Romanticism pop. Her last album, 2005’s 'Aerial', came 13 years after its predecessor. Why? Because she’s Kate Bush, motherfucker.
She pioneered the pop promo
It’s obvious when you think about it: do you slave away playing in smoky sweatboxes to a few thousand pissheads every night for months on end, or, for a day’s work do you play to millions of people every single hour? Bush gave up touring to embrace the emerging art-form of the pop promo. Her self-directed high concept mini-movies were inspired by classic film-makers such as Powell & Pressburger and starred people like Donald Sutherland. The results were ubiquitous, brilliant and completely at odds with contemporaries like Duran Duran and Wham!, who were just happy jumping about in tight shorts.
She liked to dance
Every pop starlet worth their weight in lyrca has a dance routine these days. But none have ever matched the mad-eyed brilliance of moves like these...
You’ll not see Kate Bush going boogie woogie on Later...With Jools Holland. You’ll barely see her in the music press either, unless it’s in a think piece written by another infatuated doughnut gushing forth about her brilliance (guilty; bite me). When she last toured, Sid Vicious’ corpse was still warm and Thatcher had just come to power. She has zero interest in being seen publicly, which in an era where pop stars tweet about the density of their latest bowel movement, is probably the most subversive career move someone can make. You might see her down Sainsbury’s in Oxfordshire or Devon, where she has homes. But it’s doubtful. She probably orders in from Ocado.
She’s the most influential British female artist ever
Consider the evidence: no Kate Bush, no PJ Harvey, Cocteau Twins, Bjork, Kate Nash, Tori Amos, Joanna Newsome, Goldfrapp, Bat For Lashes and any other artists in possession of a) oestrogen and b) a fondness for being ‘a bit different.’ It’s not only female solo artists either – Suede, Radiohead and Patrick Wolf are all fans; her distinct falsetto is evident in the output of Anthony & The Johnsons; her ethereal depictions of an English hinterland has informed the work of Wild Beasts, and Futureheads have yet to top their stirring Top 10 cover version of her ‘Hounds Of Love’ single. Also no Kate Bush, no Florence & The Machine. This bit we could probably live with.
'Director’s Cut' is released May 16.