"Babooshka" is a song by English singer Kate Bush, taken from her album Never for Ever. Released as a single in June 1980, it spent 10 weeks in the UK chart, peaking at number five. It was an even bigger hit in Australia, where it was the 20th best-selling single of the year.
According to an interview Kate Bush gave to the Australian TV series Countdown in 1980, the song chronicles a wife's desire to test her husband's loyalty. To do so, she takes on the nom de plume of Babooshka and sends notes to her husband in the guise of a younger woman—something which she fears is the opposite of how her husband currently sees her. (Hence the barbed lines Just like his wife before she "freezed" on him/Just like his wife when she was beautiful.) The trap is set when, in her bitterness and paranoia, Babooshka arranges to meet her husband, who is attracted to the character who reminds him of his wife in earlier times. She thereby ruins the relationship due to her paranoia.
"I'm sure I heard about it on some TV series years ago, when I was a kid," Bush remarked of the song's story. "You know, these period things that the BBC do. I think it's an extraordinary thing for someone to do… That's why I found it fascinating."
The music video depicts Bush beside a double bass (contrabass) which symbolises the husband, wearing a black bodysuit and a veil in her role as the embittered wife. This changes into an extravagant, mythlike and rather sparse "Russian" costume as her alter-ego, Babooshka. An illustration by Chris Achilleos was the basis for the costume.
Kate Bush said that's "something I didn't realise at the time," when she learnt that Babushka is the Russian word for "grandmother" (although the stress in Russian falls on the first syllable, not the second).
"Babooshka" became Bush's second top five hit in the UK and was certified silver for sales of over 250,000 by the BPI. "Babooshka" reached number five in France and went on to sell 547,000 copies, thus becoming 465th best-selling single there.
The B-Side contains her song "Ran Tan Waltz", her second non-album B-Side. This song is performed as a tragicomedy, where Bush portrays a man bemoaning his bad luck in life being married to a wayward mother. This song uses the word "dick" in the first verse as cacophemism for penis).
- "Babooshka" (Kate Bush) 3:28
- "The Ran Tan Waltz" (Bush) 2:40
|Dutch Single Top 100||15|
|French SNEP Chart||5|
|German Singles Chart||14|
|Italian Singles Chart||5|
|Irish Singles Chart||5|
|New Zealand Singles Chart||8|
|Norwegian Singles Chart||4|
|UK Singles Chart||5|