Pop as pop can (be)

Clark Kent had beautiful sweet polyphonic synth sounds in his ear, the heavens opened and precious manna fell into the dusty slum of lower Broadway. In the synth symphony sighed and sang a slightly melancholic girl’s voice things like “soon you will be free” and “and yes somehow you find what you’ve been missing” and “there is more to life than anything you dreamed about”, and heavenly voices hummed. An enthusiastic “AH!” came from his lips, he stood still before an old cast iron building, checked the slightly scraped house number and ordered the manna to stop falling before he entered the house. The greenish, dark floor smelled of dry oranges and old metal. Clark went into the shady elevator, pressed a button in the upper range and the shaky elevator stopped before a closed door. Clark cursed, went back to the ground floor and watched the signs once again.

But, it was right, there it stood: “Lichtenstein”. He phoned briefly from a phone booth in the neighbourhood and this time the doors on the sixth floor were open. A man of around 50 years old met him and shaked his hand. “Roy Lichtenstein!”, said Kent, “how long did we not meet!”

Two pop stars flashed enthusiastically and patted each other’s arms. “Yes”, said Roy, “even when we don’t see each other often, we still know that we’ll be here, in this city”. “True, true”, Clark concurred, leaned against the window armor and tried the looked at the opposing houses, whose new-classical columns and consoles were lighted up in orange from the late afternoon sun. He knew, soon the red mantle of his other ego would flee to the outsidem, soon he would sway over the yellow taxis below. He pulled a folded piece of paper out of his pocket, smoothed it, and laid it on a small table. “You know, Roy, big pop has seen better days – but now look at this”. Both the men bowed over the paper. “Now, that’s an old image of mine”, Roy said stunned. “True, true”. In fact, the small quick copy represented a mournful girl’s face, gracefully hopelessly resting on a white sheet, the balloon saying: “That’s the way it should have begun but it’s hopeless.” From her eyes big tears were forming, the mouth closed unquestionably evenly. Both the men looked at the image for a while. “You see, Roy”, said Clark, “we are both still touched by so much pop pain – and I say, this woman exists. She is a singer in England.” “Impossible!” “Trust me, Roy! You know, I am not wrong”. Clark looked over his shoulders into the darkness outside. “And even today I will set out to seek her.” Stunned, Roy looked into Clark’s eyes, which went dark and looked determined. Clark seemed to stretch a few centimeters, his index finger tracing the silhouette of the girl. As he touched the paper, Clark started spinning around his own axis and a red mantle appeared from nowhere, around his shoulderns. The man became a red blur and shot through the window into the New York evening. Like a red bat the S appear high about the Broadway in the direction of the East River. With his hands folded on his back Roy looked after, his head shaking. “My goodness”, he mumbled, “simply fantastic!”

Clark flew across Greenland, every island, at whose sight the Danes in the airplanes always got out of the house before owner-owned. He chose the long way to calmly think about the blond girl he wanted to visit. From the arctic sky, the rushing synth tones returned to his ears – SOON YOU WILL BE FREE-EEEE! The blonde Kim seemed to have been destined for pop stardom, like he, S, was destined to become a saviour of the good and a fighter against evil on this world! A nobel destiny! And being a popstar – what an exciting fate! Everything pointed towards Kim’s pop stardom, just look at her outer appearance: that wasn’t just a beautiful girl, who sang beautiful melodies and tried to obtain a personality with attributes. Like the small one from Bow Wow Wow (who was thrown out in silnce) or the raging thin one from Altered Images. That was KIM WILDE, an image of her own – perhaps, who knows – on her way to becoming an institution and symbol, like Debbie Harry in the old days. Something like that is used, people feel bad without idols. And, thought S, after all she was as good as the only one who was able, since Blondie’s “In the flesh”, ‘Heart of glass” or “Pretty baby”, to convincingly sing songs overflowing with cheesy, wonderful feeling. Almost all the others (and there were a lot of them), who tried at the moment sounded out of tune, because they depended on studio production machinery. Besides, she made great jumping rope pop.


S landed as Clark Kent in a strange beautiful street in London, which actually looks like snatched food, the teeth/houses are built close together. One tooth intact, the other disappeared, the third half demolished. His Hotel was a proud building between two grey oldfashioned buildings. During his metamorphosis back into Clark Kent in an alley, he wondered, if it was useful to take the red mantle with him to the interview, so that he could disappear if he became too nervous. Clark Kent was nervous! After all these reporter years! Kim was after all a beautiful girl…

Now he sat in the dingy waiting room of RAK Records and he had to have his dream disturbed by the press lady. No, RAK hadn’t been here for long, and all the Suzi Quatro hits were made elsewhere. Then, through a Dunhill/Menthol smoke screen, he saw Kim appear, she greeted Clark with “Hi!” and disappeared for some time to the higher floors. My God, Clark thought, there is nothing to ask really, here is the girl, there are the records and both speak for themselves. No endless rock philosophies like with McLaren, no pseudo-interesting hollowness à la Siouxie and no fighting over the importance of Bauhaus for today’s Art eighter. Kim looked simply overwhelming. THAT was what Clark wanted to see. Other people, who apparently met her in a physically bad condition, had warned him. That couldn’t irritate Clark. No traces of stress today, dazzling and immaculate in black mini skirt (she changed her clothes) and a black pullover with mischievous little punches on shoulder and elbow. She is one of those people who dominate the room whenever she enters. Clark saw and understoond, why this girl needed no paraphernalia, somehow everything is great and simple about her, correspondingly the only jewelry were two big, simple earrings. A lovely, generous icon sitting on the crimson sofa going through her hair with her hand from time to time. One knows, she comes from a pure rock ‘n’ roll family, father Marty used to be a successful Rock ‘n’ Roller. An essential help for Kim, because she was catapulted into the business she is in today. That’s why: “This collaboration with your father and your brother will probably remain your basis?”

“Yes. I mean, I don’t know exactly for how long it will remain that way. But I appreciate very much, working with the both of them. I appreciate how my father works on his lyric ideas, he has such a fertile imagination and so much experience. It gives things a steady backbone, it makes the lyrics catchy. Ricki’s production work and music – in many ways it reminds me of Paul McCartney, he knows to give songs the only right melody. It’s great for a singer. Many songwriters don’t know how to do that, they know how to find an interesting rhythm structure – which I don’t mind, I like that – but for a singer the melodies are important. Ricki writes songs that can be sung. Clark could only agree, he knew that already. So: “It is great to work with the both of them, they let me appear as an integral part of their work and feel it is a three way street.”

How big is your influence on the songs and can you identify with what the two of them write?
“Usually I can identify very well and if not, I say that, and the song is dropped. It is not easy flogging a dead horse. If something doesn’t fit me, I will say that.

Does she bring her own ideas to the table?
“Now, mostly the melody is very vague and I make it work for me, what I have to sing. The lyrics often have to be changed too, because things sound different when you sing them instead of writing them down. I haven’t gotten around to writing songs myself yet, but I would certainly like to do so. But it doesn’t hinder me in getting involved in the creative process.”

Aha. So embedded in the family. No fighting upwards from dull lowlands. With a good single they made the first hit: “Kids in America”, a sort of American Graffiti in pocket size. This is a generation of pop stars that comes from another generation of pop stars, who have done it all and seen it all, and they bring their offspring into the business. There are no teenagers running away from home, because there is no reason for it. The Wilde family is not burdened by such phenomena. Clark feels nostalgic and says: “I belong to the generation of your father and grew up in the 50s. Rock was always a sort of protest against older generations. That was always an important part of the music. You are now the daughter of someone who protested with his music against his own older generation. Every next rock generation had this attitude. Do you ever have a conflict with your father, your parents, that made you feel you were from a different generation?
“No, none that I can use as an excuse to treat me like an idiot. I think many younger people these days find excuses to misbehave. It’s sad. Everyone could behave without treating older generations badly. I believe that generation gaps have gone out of fashion. For young people in the Eighties there is no reason”.

Interesting. And there is more than a grain of truth in it, the Eighties give us the cool knowing teenager, who lives out their aggressions in video games and in discos. Beautifully balanced, a really good teenager generation. Clark has nothing against that, after all, he was a gentleman. But it it was also the weakest and most boring teenage generation since the Second World War. Is KIm Wilde one of their pop queens? All through the (western) world you can taste the air of ‘I have some job or not and some boy- or girlfriend please no experiments, besides I come in beautiful clothes that is the most important thing’. Kim’s balancedness (stress comes ONLY from her career) is probably more from the environment she grew up in?
“For me, music was simply second nature, maybe even first nature. Music was the most important thing in our house, everything revolved around dad’s career. Wir travelled a lot, even to Africa and Australia. Dad always took us along, even in evenings to the clubs. We jumped on his back on stage and everything. Somehow I gotten a different glance into the business, than other people may have had. In fact I am not too wild about the glamourous side of things – well, sometimes I am a sucker for the old glamour – but I don’t really live it out. I mean, I am not what people expect from such a popstar. That is a real disappointment for some. (In mock Cockney:) ‘Why don’t you go to nightclubs, what do you do?’ ‘I go to restaurants with friends, see a movie in a cinema, or a video…’ ‘But that’s boring! That’s what I do!’ Some people have this attitude, that what they do is boring and everything that others do is interesting. For me even very normal things are interesting’.

What did you get from 1977? What did you do during the punk days, as something reared up?
“At the time of the height of punk I was just too young for it, emotionally too young. I didn’t especially like the music, although I was aware. I liked MY AIM IS TRUE by Elvis Costello a lot, but this had nothing to do with all that was going on. I started a little later. Things like hearing the Clash. It was all very important for music, and many people, me too, profited from the results. Maybe I have only gotten a real passion for it now. You see, NOW there are holes in my pullover! (laughs)”

Your music has taken a turn with “Love Blonde”. The excellent second album SELECT sounded melancholic, contained sad tales like “Cambodia”. Why was that? Time? Marty’s lyrics? You?
“Hard to talk about that. I can only say that my father tends to write about serious things, he has a pessimistic nature. I usually find a relationship with it, can place myself into it, what he writes. It’s part of everything that functions together – I mean his lyrics, Ricki’s music and I – we are very lucky to have one another and people take it for granted”. My God, that is all a bit vague, Clark thinks, but maybe the clock is ticking. And it was. Certainly a hectic business. It makes you nervous. One should really talk to brother and father to get behind the functioning of this successful machine. Now, “Love Blonde” shows part of the direction of the new LP?

“Yes. There are more songs in this jazzy stule, but the album (titled CATCH AS CATCH CAN) will mostly sound more like the first album. “Love Blonde” was very different from what I made before, but you can’t stay in the same box all the time. It wasn’t very easy for me, to sing this and the new songs also have their hooks, which is good for my further development as a singer. Besides we will also go on tour this autumn.”

Oh yes, that is also something that was completely turned around, first record, then stage. First the careful treading out from the safe Rock ‘n’ Roll household with hit records, and not the difficult working up from bread and circus games or a small band in smoky clubs. “I couldn’t feel like a singer without live performances and against the resistance of certain people we did perform live in the end. I made a big turmoil about touring – next time it will be more relaxed, my voice has gotten better and I am more fit and healthy than I was then.”

Clark was already involved in expecting a pop star to perform unusual performances, when the press lady looked into the room by way of warning. God, how time flies. Quickly one more question in tabloid style. What is important for you besides your career?
“My health, both mental and physical, my friends. And how I can get to the point where I don’t take life so seriously, you know. Making mountains out of molehills.” And you still live at home? “Yes, I am almost ready to move into my own home, but I won’t spend much time there, busy as I am.”

Again, this didn’t sound very ‘forward through the wall’. I don’t believe, Clark thought, that she belongs among the Hotel-Gig-Bar-Hotel-next city-people, but: gifted is gifted and that is also great, isn’t it? If she performs more often, the stress only grows, doesn’t it? “Yes, next up are rehearsals for the coming performances.” She sighs and says softly and sweetly: “Dear, there is SO much to worry about… Mostly I leave other people to worry, when I start doing that, I’ll stop doing what is sensible…”

That is it, thought Clark, that is it! I must tell Roy this! It can change the text in the balloon! It has to say: Dear, there is so much to worry about! That was the next pop generation. Looking good, making beautiful songs, having fun – and look back over the shoulder and whisper: dear, there is so much to worry about. Clark stealthily took his red mantle, wiped the sweat from his head and flew away between the trees of Regent Park. He scared a few playing children and strollers with his flying. Was Clark now smarter than before, or had he drunk water from a beautifully decorated glass? Did he just want to see if there was actually still complete pop or at least something that came close to that? In any case S could send the news to Roy that he found a hopeful tip of it, and pop for every man. And that was the only pop that was allowed to wear this label.