10 more older songs we want to see make viral comebacks à la “Running Up That Hill”

Kate Bush's "Running Up That Hill" is the latest older song to have a resurgence thanks to the way new and old songs alike go viral on social media platforms like TikTok. Kate's 1985 classic first got a push due to the way it was used in a new episode of Stranger Things (which also helped Metallica's "Master of Puppets" re-enter the charts), and then TikTok -- where Kate's 1980 song "Babooshka" also went viral to a lesser extent in 2021 -- kept the momentum going. The song topped the charts in the UK and eight other countries, and it re-entered the Billboard Hot 100 in the US, peaking at No. 4, making it the highest-charting Kate Bush song in America ever.

In the case of "Running Up That Hill," this resurgence feels like a success that's been much-deserved for decades. Kate Bush was already one of the most inventive artists of her time, though her commercial success never quite matched her critical acclaim. Her music has continued to sound futuristic over the years, and she's influenced so many other artists, including but not limited to Björk, Tori Amos, Fiona Apple, Perfume Genius, Zola Jesus, Julia Holter, FKA twigs, and Halsey. Her resurgence may be inducing nostalgia for some, but there are clearly a lot of people who are experiencing "Running Up That Hill" for the first time (it's truly a 2022 Song of the Summer contender). "Running Up That Hill" finally becoming a genuinely huge pop hit is the type of thing we wish we could see even more of; it's so deserved.

Other relatively under-appreciated artists have seen much-deserved comebacks thanks to the power of a viral song, like Life Without Buildings, but under-appreciated cult classics aren't the only kinds of older songs that go viral. Sometimes it's a cheesy hit making a comeback with a hint of irony, like Toto's "Africa," or a forgotten yet unabashedly catchy pop gem like Boney M.'s "Rasputin" and Matthew Wilder's "Break My Stride," or a non-hit by an otherwise popular artist like Kesha's "Backstabber" and Frank Ocean's "Lost."

Whatever the case, it's a fascinating phenomenon. Traditionally, hits have been determined by an artist or record label choosing a song to promote as the single, then platforms like radio or MTV or official Spotify playlists pushing the song. But with songs climbing up the charts due to viral usage on social media, their popularity is being determined by the people. It's an organic path to a song's success, and it feels like it could happen to just about anyone, as long as the song hits in just the right way. We have no idea what the next older song to go viral will be, but we've put together a list of 10 that we want to see make comebacks, for a variety of reasons. Read on for the list, in no particular order...

Men At Work - "Down Under" (1981)

If "Africa" and "Break My Stride" made comebacks, then "Down Under" can't be far behind. Its reggae tint, airy flutes, and new wave-y funk bass place it in a similar ballpark as those two songs, and it's probably the best of the three. Unlike "Africa," you don't need any irony to like "Down Under" -- the song already has its own sense of humor, and it's as smart and self-aware as it is catchy. It's widely popular enough that its comeback would probably be driven more by nostalgia than discovery, but the song has already maintained the perfect balance of being timeless yet not overplayed. Its comeback would be a refreshing one (and maybe it's already happening - it got a pretty big remix last year).

Devo - "Girl U Want" (1980)

To the average person, Devo are probably still mainly known as the band with the funny red helmets who sang "Whip It." Hipsters who know Devo were more than one hit wonders probably own a copy of Q. Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!, but even that classic debut album is just the tip of the Energy Dome. Like Kate Bush, Devo have witty pop smarts that helped pave the way for a lot of 21st century indie pop and alt-pop, and if there's one underrated Devo song that sounds like it could be a present-day hit, it's "Girl U Want," the opening track of 1980's Freedom of Choice (also home to "Whip It"). There are probably levels of metaphor worked into "Girl U Want" that the untrained ear may never hear, but no matter what type of music listener you are, the peppy, propulsive new wave of "Girl U Want" is undeniable. It's as much of an earnest pop song that you'll get from Devo, and its snappy hooks are perfect for the short runtime of a TikTok video.

Stardust - "Music Sounds Better With You" (1998)

If 2022 is truly the summer of the house-pop revival, then "Music Sounds Better With You" needs to make a comeback. The 1998 French house classic -- the only song by the one-off side project Stardust, aka Daft Punk's Thomas Bangalter, DJ Alan Braxe, and vocalist Benjamin Diamond -- is the kind of infectious song that stops you in your tracks no matter what you're doing. It hasn't aged a bit, and it sounds just as fresh next to "Break My Soul" and "Falling Back" as it did in the '90s. Plus, Alan Braxe himself is in the midst of a minor comeback this year, thanks to the new Braxe + Falcon EP on Domino (which features Panda Bear on a track).

Belinda Carlisle - "La Luna" (1989)

After briefly drumming for hardcore punk pioneers the Germs and then singing for power pop legends The Go-Go's, Belinda Carlisle began a solo career that birthed one chart-topping hit, "Heaven Is A Place On Earth." If you "were there," maybe you also remember "Mad About You" or "Summer Rain," but if you weren't, you might not have ever even heard a Belinda Carlisle song that isn't "Heaven Is A Place On Earth." That's why the pop perfection of "La Luna" needs to make a comeback. As you may guess from the song title (Spanish for "The Moon"), the song takes cues from Latin pop (à la "La Isla Bonita"), and maybe it's not the most authentic version of that style of music, but once its hook lodges its way into your brain, there's no getting it out. Coming just two years after "Heaven Is A Place On Earth," it's almost hard to believe something this catchy failed to chart.

Madonna - "Dress You Up" (1984)

Like A Virgin-era singles like "Material Girl," "Into the Groove" and the title track are about as enduring as a pop song can be, but if there's a Like A Virgin song that's in need of a comeback, it's the slightly more minor hit "Dress You Up." Maybe it's because it's less outplayed, or maybe it's because its driving dance-pop rhythm makes it the album's most adrenaline-rush-inducing song. The timing is right for it to feel new again, even though it's never gotten old.

Aqua - "Roses Are Red" (1996)

Americans know Aqua as one hit wonders for "Barbie Girl," though they've actually got many hits in their native Denmark, and the best one has nothing to do with plastic dolls. Their debut single "Roses Are Red" is way less campy, and way catchier -- so catchy, in fact, that you may find yourself unironically arguing that Americans gave the "Barbie Girl" group an unfair shake.

Britney Spears - "Breathe On Me" (2003)

In the post-poptimism and online streaming era, deep cuts on Top 40 pop albums have a better shot at getting noticed than they used to, but in the CD era, those songs were virtually invisible to anyone who didn't buy the album. Nobody who lived through the early 2000s can forget "Toxic" and "Me Against the Music" from Britney Spears' 2003 album In The Zone, but do you remember "Breathe On Me," the deep cut that found Britney humming over moody club beats? If not, you should, because it's a great song, it still sounds futuristic today, and it's probably not what you would've expected from Britney at the time if you only knew her singles. That's why it needs to make a comeback now.

The The - "This Is The Day" (1983)

Some may argue that "This Is The Day" is already too well-known and respected to be in need of a comeback, but those same people probably would've argued the same about "Running Up That Hill" a year ago. IYKYK, but can you imagine if "This Is The Day," which never even charted in America, was all of a sudden climbing up the Hot 100 and blasting out of smartphones and car speakers everywhere? That'd be kind of amazing, because the deceptively-sparkly new wave classic still has enough gas in it to fuel an entirely new generation of music fans.

SBTRKT - "Pharaohs" (ft. Roses Gabor) (2011)

Is it time for the early 2010s indie-dance scene to have a revival? Yes. Back before Disclosure became the face of the genre, one of the leading voices was fellow UK act SBTRKT, whose 2011 self-titled debut album birthed the still-classic Little Dragon collab "Wildfire" and helped launch the careers of Jessie Ware and Sampha. SBTRKT has been quiet since releasing his less-well-received 2014 sophomore album, but he's been slowly making his return, and his debut is ripe for a comeback of its own as well. The other guest vocalist on the album was Roses Gabor, whose rise has been slower than Jessie and Sampha, but her voice is on one of the album's best tracks, "Pharaohs." Those thumping synths could get even the most arm-folded hipster dancing, and when the chorus hits, the satisfying transition feels ready-made for our current era of meme-ified TikTok dances.

Limahl - "The Neverending Story" (1984)

"Running Up That Hill" was not the first '80s song to benefit from the Stranger Things Effect. Limahl's theme song to 1984 fantasy film The Neverending Story was used in the series' Season 3 finale in 2019, when Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) and his girlfriend Suzie (Gabriella Pizzolo) sing it together over shortwave radio as it morphs into the original. "The Neverending Story" didn't rechart but did see an 800% increase in streams on Spotify and YouTube, and it then blew up even further when Stranger Things' Millie Bobby Brown launched the viral #NeverEndingChallenge. Still, it feels like the song, cowritten and produced by electronic music icon Giorgio Moroder, never quite got its due. With a soaring, key-changing melody and karaoke-friendly duet structure, it's aged far better than Limahl's haircut.


What older songs do you wanna see make viral comebacks?