‘Running Up That Hill’ And Nine Other Songs Revived By TV Shows & Movies
Sleeper hits.
Words by Tom Disalvo July 4, 2022

Mike Tyson’s lisp-filled cover of Phil Collins in The Hangover walked so Kate Bush could run (up that hill).

After being featured in the latest season of Stranger Things, Kate Bush’s 1985 track ‘Running Up That Hill’ has been inescapable. Soaring to the top of the charts across the globe, the song has broken Guinness World Records, spawned multiple covers, and reportedly earned its singer a whopping $2.3 million in royalties. 

While the fanfare around ‘Running Up That Hill’ has been particularly noteworthy (it returned atop the ARIA Charts just this week), there remains a slew of additional tracks that have similarly achieved sleeper hit status after featuring in Hollywood blockbusters. Here’s eight songs that enjoyed a resurgence years after their initial release, and the movies that revived them.

Kate Bush – ‘Running Up That Hill’ (Stranger Things)

Originally lifted as the lead single from Kate Bush’s album Hounds Of Love, ‘Running Up That Hill’ was successful upon its 1985 release, but not to the level it’s currently enjoying courtesy of Stranger Things. Since featuring in the latest season’s fourth episode, the song has taken the Guinness World Records title for the longest time for a track to reach number one, some 36 years after its initial release. 


The track’s resurgence comes almost entirely from its extensive use in the Netflix series (some might say to the point where you’ll want to run off that hill), and the second volume’s more recent inclusion of ‘Master of Puppets’ could spell a resurgence for Metallica.

Smash Mouth – ‘All Star’ (Shrek)

Released as the lead single from Smash Mouth’s 1999 sophomore album Astro Lounge, ‘All Star’ wouldn’t achieve mainstream success until two years later. That year, it featured in the opening credits for Shrek, the Dreamworks Animation film that went on to gross $500 million upon its 2001 release. 


While ‘All Star’ soon became synonymous with the film and later earned the band their first Billboard charting song, Smash Mouth originally denied its use in Shrek. It was only after they watched an advance screening that the band obliged. 

Queen – ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ (Wayne’s World)

Although it was undeniably a hit when it was first released in 1975, Queen’s rock-opera song ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ received renewed attention after it was included in the 1992 Mike Meyers comedy Wayne’s World. The song first edged into Billboard’s top 10 when it was originally released, but 16 years later reached a number-two peak thanks to Meyers’ car ride cover. More recently, the song was re-popularised by the Freddie Mercury biopic of the same name, but Meyers walked so Rami Malek could run. 


Nirvana – ‘Something In The Way’ (The Batman)

Streams of Nirvana’s ‘Something In The Way’ surged earlier this year, over three decades since its original release in 1999. The song, which was never released as a single, charted for the first time ever in August 2020, a month after it was included in the trailer for Robert Pattinson’s The Batman. Upon the film’s premiere this year, the song’s streams jumped again, from 880,000 to 1.6 million in just two days, amounting to a surge of 734 per cent. It’s no small feat for a Nirvana deep cut. 


Phil Collins – ‘In The Air Tonight’ (The Hangover)

Since dropping in 1981, Phil Collins’ head-banger ‘In The Air Tonight’ has enjoyed a second, third, and fourth wind of popularity. Collins’ debut single first featured on the television show Miami Vice three years after its initial release, and re-entered Billboard’s Hot 100 as a result. 


Then, in 2009, the song was covered in a lisp-filled rendition by Mike Tyson in The Hangover, re-popularising the rock track some 28 years later.  More recently in 2020, ‘In The Air Tonight’ enjoyed yet another bout of renewed attention after a video of first-time listeners reacting to the song went viral, sparking an 1100% rise in sales. 

George Baker Selection –  ‘Little Green Bag’ (Reservoir Dogs)

Originally released in 1969, the Jan Visser and George Baker-written song ‘Little Green Bag’ didn’t peak in popularity until it featured on the soundtrack of Reservoir Dogs, which was released in 1992. Directed by Quinten Tarantino and played during a slow-mo sequence of the titular gang, the song was resurrected 23 years after its initial release.  


Incidentally, ‘Little Green Bag’ soundtracked one of the Reservoir Dog’s most memorable scenes, and reached a cult-like following similar to that of the film itself. Coinciding with the film’s release, ‘Little Green Bag’ reached number one in Japan, of all places. 

The Beatles – ‘Twist and Shout’ Cover (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off)

Originally written by Bert Russell in 1961 before hitting the mainstream with a cover by The Beatles three years later, ‘Twist and Shout’ was a number one hit upon the band’s initial release. While the John Lennon cover enjoyed widespread airplay in 1964, it received renewed attention in 1986 when Matthew Broderick lip-synced the song in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.


The teen comedy was a blockbuster in itself, and contributed to The Beatles re-entering worldwide charts over two decades after its inclusion on the tracklist for their Please Please Me album.   

N.W.A – ‘Straight Outta Compton’ (Straight Outta Compton)

The title track for N.W.A’s debut rap album, ‘Straight Outta Compton’ made little noise when it was first released in 1988. ‘Straight Outta Compton’ was considered too inflammatory for mainstream radioplay at the time, but earned retrospective praise 27 years later, when the biopic of the same name first premiered in 2015.


In the wake of the film, which starred Lakeith Stanfeild and Paul Giamatti, both the album and the song received rightful recognition, with the latter upstaging it’s 1989 peak by re-entering the charts at Number 6 in the US.  

Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band – ‘Old Time Rock and Roll’ (Risky Business)

While it’s now synonymous with a pantless Tom Cruise, there was a time when Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band’s ‘Old Time Rock and Roll’ was a hit in its own right. Released in 1979 as the fourth single from the band’s Stranger in Town album, the track would later resurface with the premier of Risky Business in 1983. 


The film’s famous scene of Cruise lip-syncing the track, along with consistent use in shows like The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and South Park, helped the song achieve the rock staple status it enjoys today. 

Fleetwood Mac –  ‘Dreams’ (That dude from TikTok)

While the resurgence of Fleetwood Mac in 2020 isn’t technically credited to a film, this list would be remiss not to mention their 1977 single ‘Dreams’, which reprised it’s chart-topping status following a TikTok by Nathan Apodaca. 


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The video, which simply depicts Apodaca lip-syncing the song while cruising on a skateboard, became one of 2020’s most viral moments, garnering 50 million views and skyrocketing the track on international charts.  

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