Date: 17 May 1981
Originally published in: Sunday Journal (Ireland)
Written by: Colm McGinty
It took Kim Wilde only a few weeks to tame the charts with “Kids in America”. But she might just as well have walked off with the booby prize in a village beauty contest for all the effect it’s having on her.
The record soared to number two, the highest place her rock ‘n roller Dad, Marty ever reached. But Kim readily admits she would have settled for 40 spots below.
“I can’t say I was really surprised it got that high. But I wasn’t all that disappointed it didn’t get to number one”, she says. “I was more than happy with what happened. Even if it had got to 42 I would still have been pleased. You see, I’m not terribly ambitious for the top spot. I’d rather stay around for ten years and be consistently good than have number ones for two or three.”
“Success doesn’t overawe me. I’m not over-excited by it. It’s just given me an inner contentment. I don’t have to try to be a singer anymore. I am one, and that’s what I always wanted.”
Kim’s clothes have become a bit of a side attraction to her music. She prefers men’s because, she says, they fit better. And she does for Oxfam shops what a lot of bigger stars do for the plush London boutiques.
Her red cardi under the mini coat had a distinctly second-hand look about it too. It was one of two things she treated herself to as “Kids in America” climbed up the charts. The other was champagne with bacon and eggs at the Wilde haunt in Hertfordshire.
“We’ve never really wallowed in champagne breakfasts before, but it’s certainly the most deliciously decadent thing you can do”, she says. No doubt there will be a repeat if Kim’s current record “Chequered Love” notches up the same kind of success.
This time last year Kim was just another 19-year-old art school student, with a handful of “O” levels under her belt and a yearning to sing.
She got mixed up doing some demo tapes for her brother Ricky, 19, who took them along to top record producer, Mickie Most. With his usual knack of panning gold, Most picked out “Kids in America” and Kim was on her way. Ricky co-wrote the song with 42-year-old Marty, the same double act as wrote the latest single.
Critics will argue that with a famous father and a mother who was in the Vernon Girls, Kim was born with a silver tuning fork in her mouth. She was able to hum tunes while her contemporaries were only managing a gurgle on a good day.
But it’s a different name that seems to have sparked the fuse. Says Kim: “The only reference point I can remember is listening to Cilla Black’s Anyone Who Had a Heart in 1964. It had a very big impact on me at the time, which is quite something for a four-year-old.”
Since then, her heroes and heroines in the music world have been an odd mixture: Connie Francis, Joni Mitchell, Elvis Costello, Aretha Franklin and Frank Sinatra, to name a few.
Happy to talk about music, she is somewhat coy about her ‘private life’. “It becomes that much more precious when you’re in this position. But put it this way, I’m not getting married. There are people I care about and I make sure I have time for them. But I wouldn’t say I was going out wih anyone”, she says.
She is refreshingline open about her love of babies, though in the last 18 months her family have had two new additions. Roxanne, named after the Police single, who is one, and Marty, born just a few weeks ago. “I love having the babies in the house. They give you the most pleasure out of anything you can ever enjoy. I’ll definitely have some in the future. But that’s a long way off yet. My mum’s just had the last one at 39 so I’ve got a few years before I start panicking”, she says.
For the next few months Kim will be staying at the thatched family home, along with the babies, the two cats and dogs. Fan mail is beginning to pour in, which she admits she’s a “real sucker” for.
“Most of them say how wonderful I am but one boy added in his letter: ‘I wish you’d do something about your hair. You’re really pretty but if you did something to your hair you’d be beautiful.”
Next year, with a few more records behind her, Kim takes to the road with a band. Only then, when she’s packing up after a sweaty night in some concert hall far from London, will she really know whether she’s Queen of the Wilde Frontier.