"Playing popstar is a rut!"

Date
Published in
Beau Monde (Netherlands)
Written by
Franc Craanen

Kim Wilde was the pop icon of the eighties. She sold millions of records and cleared the way for Madonna. Kim was a role model for girls and a dream for boys. The pop star, 45 now, makes her comeback this month with the cd 'Never say never'. High time for a talk.

Kim Wilde is still blond and still wears black coats and pointy shoes. Thankfully some things never change. Kim is lovely, I can see that instantly. And normal, no pretences, no diva behaviour, which is a blessing in these times of spoiled little girls like Beyoncé. "When I see how the new generation of popstars behaves, and misbehaves, I realise that I was a very sweet little girl despite my postpunk hairdo", jokes Kim. "Ten years ago I was bored of being Kim Wilde and I just quit."

Why a comeback, then?
That's Nena's fault. She called me three years ago to talk with me and before I knew it I was in the studio to sing the duet 'Anyplace, anywhere, anytime' with her. I thought it was just a joke from two old popstars who wanted to do something for fun, but it became a summerhit in all of Europe. But now it sounds like I have no lust for a comeback, but nothing could be further from the truth. I am proud and excited."

Would you have expected to come back to the pop forefront?
I didn't. I had kissed the top 10 goodbye. I quit the circus 10 years ago, because I got bored. I was very glad not to have to go into the studio anymore. I made records from my 20th until my 36th non-stop and did interviews and everything all over again. In fact the life of a popstar is incredibly boring. The life of an electrician or a secretary of a funeral arranger is much more variated."

Are you really that cynical?
Maybe a little. I prefer to call it realistic. Playing popstar is wonderful when you're below 30, but then it becomes a rut. On top of that my pop star status was attached to my family. My father and brother wrote the songs and I sang them. Nice, but when I turned 36 it was time to leave the parents' house, so to speak.

And then? The big black hole?
No, no, no. I started my own thing. I played in the musical 'Tommy'. I had to do an audition, and I wasn't used to that. I thought it was scary. "Tommy" by The Who is from my childhood. I played the record every day. So I wanted to play the role of Mrs. Walker, and I got it. Six month later I met my husband and before I knew it, I was in a white dress before the altar.

Did you know he was your big love?
Immediately. Now 36 is a bit late in the season to meet your big love, but before that I just didn't have the time. Maybe my cynicism about being a popstar stems from that. I could take my gold records to bed every night, while all my friends got married and had children.

You traded your hits for children?
You could say that, yes. I wanted baby's. My body and head were steered by loudly crackling hormones. I got two, a boy and a girl, totally ideal. I developed as a gardening expert and became a journalist for gardening magazines. I even wrote my own booked about gardens. No memoires of a popstar, god spare me. It was all about gardens, not about Kim Wilde and that was a relief.

Were you taken seriously as a gardener?
Not at first. They thought I was a bored popstar who wanted a new hobby after lots of rock'n'roll and drugs. I took my new passion very seriously, so I eventually convinced them. And I have even won an award at one of the most prestigious gardening shows in the world. That's on the mantlepiece.

Where are your gold records?
They are in the attic. My kids and their friends play domino with them sometimes. And there's one in the loo. Of course I value them, but I am in fact more proud of the gardening medal, because I reinvented myself then. The pop icon from the eighties I was, was more my father's invention really.

And the pop icon Kim Wilde in 2006?
That is an extension of who I used to be. I like singing again, to have fun on stage. For years I couldn't even hear 'Kids in America', but now it's fun to do it again. And yes, I am proud of my career and a few songs I made in the past 25 years.

Do your kids understand that you were a Madonna before she was it?
Well, that went right past them, because it was way before they were born. They laugh about my hairdo back then, mostly. I looked a bit embarrassing in the eighties, really. My daughter thinks 'Kids in America' is great, but for her it's just a good song, and the fact that her mum sings it, is just a secondary thing. And that's good I think, because it keeps my feet on the ground.

If the cd is a big success, how will you go on?
I am going to record another cd, because I found out that I have to sing, it belongs with me, it's a part of me. I don't need to have the whole hysteria again. But that won't happen because I'm past 40 now and I'm different about it now than I was 20 years ago. It's nice to be number 1, but there's more to life, and I want the whole package.

Celebs about Kim Wilde

Madonna in 1984: In America I will only have to beat Cyndi Lauper and in Europe just the British blonde with her selfmade hairdo Kim Wilde. And then the world is officially mine and mine alone.

Nena in 2003: We are of course two old tarts from over 40, but if Kim and I look at Cher, we know we can do at least five comebacks before we retire.