Kate Bush: Enigmatic chanteuse as pop pioneer
by Holly Kruse, University of Illinois, Urbana, Champaign
In the early 1970s record industry executives noticed that adventurous musicians could actually make money. Kate Bush was one of the artists to profit. In 1974 EMI made an unusual move and gave Bush some money “to grow up with,” and she spent three years continuing her dance studies, honing her vocal skills, and developing a more mature songwriting style. In 1977 she recorded her first album, The Kick Inside, and the first single, “Wuthering Heights”, reached the number one spot on the British pop chart just one month after its release in early 1978. However, though Kate Bush has been a best-selling artist in the U.K. for almost ten years, she stayed virtually unknown in the U.S …
Soundscapes.info November 2000. Read the full article here
Adventures in Kate Bush and Theory
Deborah Withers’ book is not a biography of Kate Bush. Instead, says Sian Norris, it is a treasure map to the theories underpinning the cultural icon’s work.
Having been a huge Kate Bush fan from a young age, and very impressed and excited by Deborah N Withers’ recent book Self Publishing and Empowerment I was really looking forward to reading her cultural theory explorationAdventures in Kate Bush and Theory. And I wasn’t disappointed. This book is a superb exploration into the gender, queer, post-colonial and cultural theory that lies behind the music of singer, dancer and cultural icon Kate Bush. It is a joy from start to finish, taking you on a journey from the 1970s to the present, as Withers comprehensively and wittily uncovers the theoretical intricacies in the work of Kate Bush. If you are looking for a biography of Kate Bush then this isn’t the book for you. Instead, it is a biography of music, visual art and three decades of the character Withers calls the “Bush Feminine Subject” or the BFS. This is the female subjectivity that inhabits Bush’s world, a subject who sings, plays and acts out the questions, theories and problems in Kate’s work. Withers argues that as listeners we need to separate out the singer Kate Bush and the BFS when exploring the theory of her work …
The f-word January 2010. Read the full article here
Kate Bush: Performing and Creating Queer Subjectivities on Lionheart.
In her second album, Lionheart, Kate Bush continued the process of exploring gender
roles through music, performance and dramatization that began on her debut, The
Kick Inside. From early on in her career, Bush was conscious of how heteronormative,
patriarchal gender roles can delimit restrictive boundaries and designate permissible
sites from which the female sexed subject can speak or sing. From her perceptive
comments in interviews, it is clear that she was aware of stereotypical cultural notions
of femininity circulating within pop music in the late 70s that, I would suggest, only
allowed narrow roles for women singers: to be genteel, emotional and reflective.
Understandably, Bush wished to distance herself and ultimately break free from these
constructions and often spoke of how she identified with male songwriters and styles
as they allowed for more experimentation …
Nebula September 2006. Read the full article here
Kate Bush’s Subversive Shoes – Bonnie Gordon
If you know the lurid details of hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale “The Red Shoes,” then Kate Bush’s song of the same name presents a fascinating twist. A dance tune with pulsating rhythms and haunting effects, it encourages and celebrates dance. The song begins with a girl who wants to dance. She gets to dance and along the way takes her listeners for an experience that borders on ecstatic frenzy. Sending a very different message, the 1848 didactic tale positions dance as both sin and punishment. In the story a pretty but very poor orphan girl named Karen falls in love with a pair of red shoes made of shiny patent leather. After tricking her blind but pious benefactor into buying them, she makes the near-fatal mistake of wearing them to her Conﬁrmation and Communion. As punishment for her vanity and excess she must endlessly dance; even when she is lifted off the ground her little feet keep on dancing through the air, totally escaping her control. She wants to go left, they go right; she wants to go home, they dance out into the street, where all can see her terrible state. An angel makes her fate painfully clear: “You shall dance in your red shoes until you become pale and thin. Dance till the skin on your face turns yellow and clings to your bones as if you were a skeleton. Dance you shall from door to door and when you pass a house where proud and vain children live, there you shall knock on the door so that they will see you and fear your face. Dance, you shall Dance …
Women and Music volume 9 2005. Read the full article here