Heathcliff, it's me--Cathy.
(and 300 Kate Bush impersonators…)
Let (us) in-a-your windo-o-ow!
I will never forget my first hearing of singer-songwriter Kate Bush’s “ Wuthering Heights.” My college boyfriend was a fan, but nothing he told me in advance prepared me for the shocking lunatic squeak of that voice.
Had such an unholy screech issued from the lips of Merle Oberon in the 1939 film adaptation, Lawrence Olivier would have bolted for the moors…
It’s an acquired taste, but a lasting one. Bush’s debut single, written on a full moon night at the tender age of 18, has become a classic in its own right. (SPOILER: its life span has proved longer than Heathcliff’s).
It’s weird, tragic, compelling… just like the novel that inspired it.
It’s also perennially ripe for parody. Not just because of the voice. Two music videos Bush released seal that deal.
The UK version, above, features the sort of over-the-top theatrics rarely displayed outside the privacy of bedroom mirrors, as Bush pirouettes, cartwheels, and emotes in a gauzy white frock.
(Some young teens of my acquaintance nailed that one at summer camp, with little more than white bed sheets and fifteen minutes of advance preparation.)
When it came time for the American release, below, Bush painted her nails, rouged her lips, and took to the great outdoors in a bright red gown and tights, below.
Comedian Noel Fielding camped his way through that version in 2011, raising money for charity with a nearly 30-year-old reference.
But for sheer numbers, nothing trumps the Shambush! stunt at the top of the page. In May, 2013, the self-proclaimed “ludicrous performance troupe” invited all interested Bush fans to join them in a Brighton park to recreate the famous video en masse. (Gowns and wigs were available onsite.)
More than 300 participants heeded the call, allowing Shambush! to achieve its goal of setting the world’s record for the most number of people dressed as Kate Bush. (As one of the organizers pointed out, they would’ve set the world’s record even if it had only been the three of them.)
What a wonderful, ridiculous moment in music history to be a part of!
For those inspired to recreate the madness with their own crew, Shambush! breaks down (and names) some of the most iconic moves in an instructional video, below.