Album: Hounds of Love, 1985
Justification: Kate Bush is one of the world’s genuine musical geniuses. That’s not to suggest that everything she does is amazingly good – it’s not – but to acknowledge that damn near everything she has created has been startlingly original.
It’s easy to forget with two generations of strong singer-songwriters coming after her, but leaving the obvious carriers of the flame (Tori Amos, Jill Sobule, Kate Miller-Heidke et al) it’s worth noting that she was not just writing and performing her own music, but also doing her own video direction, costuming and choreography when she was 17 years old, a fact that should give everyone from Madonna to Gaga pause.
Bush also charted with a bunch of songs that are, frankly, nuts: ‘Wuthering Heights’, ‘Babooshka’, ‘Wow’ and this, none of which are songs that you’d listen to and go “yeah, that sounds like a top ten chart smash to me.” ‘Running Up That Hill”s parent album (arguably her masterpiece) had a major influence on contemporary music: Placebo did a passably respectful cover of ‘Running Up That Hill’ a few years back, Futureheads did a kick-arse version of ‘Hounds of Love’ around the same time, and Utah Saints’ enduring 90s hit ‘Something Good’ is based around a sample from ‘Cloudbusting’. Then again, Chris Martin’s cited the album as being a major inspiration for Coldplay, proving that these things cut both ways.
Interestingly enough, ‘Running Up That Hill’ is one of the only times Bush bent to record company pressure: the original title is ‘A Deal With God’ (which became its subtitle on the album tracklist), but EMI thought it wouldn’t get radio play in the US and Ireland with a song with God in the title. If only that was true.