Why Is Max’s Song ‘Running Up That Hill’ in Stranger Things Season 4 Important?


Stranger Thing season 4 has a lot of different lighthearted moments in the middle of a pretty dark season that’s full of death and nightmares. Of course, we are once again talking about how the series loves to incorporate 80s music into the mix because of how Max was able to survive an encounter with the hellish creature called Vecna, who was about to kill her before her friends let her listen to Kate Bush’s ‘Running Up That Hill.’ So, why is Max’s favorite song, ‘Running Up That Hill’ so important?

Max’s favorite song ‘Running Up That Hill’ is important because it was the song that kept her at ease when Vecna was about to kill her. The song connected to her on an emotional level and was able to allow her to break away from the trance she was in when she was under Vecna’s curse.

One of the best things that Stranger Things does is incorporate songs into the overall narrative in a way that doesn’t feel forced. In this case, Kate Bush’s ‘Running Up That Hill’ found its way to the series in a manner that befits Max’s personality and the overall narrative that season 4 of Stranger Things carries. So, let’s look at why this song is so special and important.

What Is Max’s Favorite Song In Stranger Things Season 4?

Stranger Things season 4 still continues a narrative that stems from the dangers that the Upside Down carries with it. Of course, we are talking about the mysterious creature known as Vecna, whose identity and backstory were never revealed until the very end of volume 1 of season 4. And Vecna’s modus operandi throughout the entire season was to form a psychic connection with his victims by using their past traumas against them before killing them so that a gate to the Upside Down would open up because of the connection he established with his victims.

Unfortunately, one of the characters he targeted early on in the season was Max, who has been one of the main characters since her introduction in season 2. Max had been dealing with the trauma of watching her older adoptive brother Billy die in front of her when he saved her and her friends back in the final events of season 3. She believed that she could’ve done something to prevent Billy’s death or, at the very least, savor their last moments together. But Vecna made her believe that she wanted Billy to die.


Who Is Vecna, and What Is He Based On?

Eventually, Vecna was able to take Max’s consciousness all the way to his realm in the Upside Down while her body was still in the real world in a trance-like state. The hellish creature chased her around his domain until he was finally able to capture her and was about to kill her.

While all of that was happening, the duo of Nancy and Robin investigated a man named Victor Creel, whose family was one of Vecna’s first victims all the way back in the 50s. When Nancy and Robin spoke with Creel, they realized that he was able to break out of Vecna’s curse when he heard his favorite song playing in the background while he was in a trance. As the doctor of the mental institution said, music has a way of reaching the deeper levels of a person’s emotion, and Nancy and Robin figured out that music could help break a person out from their trance.

Nancy and Robin quickly communicated this to the group that was with Max as Lucas, Dustin, and Steve were desperately looking for cassette tapes that they believed could have Max’s favorite song so that they could attempt to save her. So, what is Max’s favorite song in Stranger Things?

Stranger Things 4 Episode 4 Sadie Sink

Max’s favorite song is Kate Bush’s ‘Running Up That Hill,’ which is a single that she released in the 1985 album Hounds of Love (Stranger Things season 4 takes place in 1986). This song was critically acclaimed and was able to dominate the charts in the UK and the USA for a while.

Lucas, who dated Max, knew what her favorite song was. That allowed Max’s mental state to escape Vecna’s realm in the Upside Down as she was able to reconnect with her emotions after listening to the song.

Why Is ‘Running Up That Hill’ Important To Max In Stranger Things Season 4?

As mentioned, Kate Bush’s ‘Running Up That Hill’ was able to save Max in season 4 when she was about to get killed by Vecna. However, there is a deeper meaning behind this song and how and why it connects with Max. So, why is ‘Running Up That Hill’ so important to Max in Stranger Things?

‘Running Up That Hill’ was supposed to be called ‘A Deal With God’ before Bush changed it so that other countries won’t censor it. Kate Bush, in an interview, once said that this song was an exploration of understanding because she believed that couples often find themselves disagreeing with one another due to their emotions. However, she believed that a deal with God could allow the couples to find a way to avoid the misunderstandings they often have.


Is Stranger Things a True Story? Here’s What Inspired the TV Show

Bush went on to explain that she was actually contemplating making the song about making a deal with the Devil, but she went on to realize that it was better to make the song about making a deal with God because of how important love is. But how is this relevant to Max?

‘Running Up That Hill’ was released in 1985, probably just after Max saw her brother die in front of her. She probably spent a good amount of time listening to Kate Bush since then while dealing with her personal problems because, as she explained to Billy’s grave, the entire family hadn’t been the same ever since he died. Her depression and loneliness were also the reasons why she began closing herself off once more to the point that she broke up with Lucas and stopped hanging out with the group. 


So, in a way, Max was suffering from a deeply traumatic experience that she was able to steadily survive by listening to ‘Running Up That Hill,’ as the lyrics spoke to her in a way that allowed her to “make a deal with God” in a manner that kept her sane throughout the entire year that followed after Billy’s death. She felt like she had to struggle up that hill throughout the entire time that she was dealing with her pain.

Of course, the other characters haven’t had it easy since then. Eleven struggled to fit in her new Californian environment because she was getting bullied in school, all while her adoptive brother Will was dealing with his hidden emotional and romantic desires. Jonathan kept himself sane by smoking weed as he was dealing with the pressures of his future with Nancy, who was seemingly set on going to college with him. And Lucas had been distancing himself from his friends because, as a basketball player, he believed that he had a chance to become one of the cool kids at school.

Nevertheless, Max has had it the worst because her family fell apart following Billy’s death. Her father left because he couldn’t accept Billy’s death. The depression caused Max’s mom to become an alcoholic as they were left to live in a trailer park due to financial problems. Meanwhile, Max herself felt that she was running up a steep hill due to the regrets that she was feeling after not being able to save Billy, who she believes she could’ve started over with despite the fact that they didn’t have the best brother-sister relationship.

Kate Bush’s song spoke to her in a way that no other person could. When she listened to ‘Running Up That Hill’ during that scene with Vecna as she saw her friends calling out for her, that was when she realized that she was not running up that hill alone because she had friends that were willing to give her that extra push up that hill. And that is why this song is so special and important to Max in Stranger Things. 

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