“I love frogs!”

Yep, that’s the proud boast of chart topping songstress Kim Wilde. But no, she’s not talking about the amphibious variety that leap about in swamps going “rrrrbbbetttt” and blowing bubbles out from under their chins. She is, however, rather fond of people from France. She explains her “affection to Eddy Sarafian.

Kim Wilde is jolly tired. She’s just been jetted from Japan to Australia, where she’s spent two exhausting days in Melbourne running around doing interviews, filming Countdown and signing tons of autographs. But when she’s confronted by the “official” Smash Hits photographer, Kim because a little more relaxed. You see, he’s French and she has a particular liking for France and its people.

“I love frogs!”, she bawls. Then it turns out they’re both fans of dodgy French crooner Etienne Daho, a “star” whom Kim might work with this year. Then she starts to hum a few bars from one of his songs. “Dooo-do, dum-dum dee-dum….”  What’s more they’ve both got his music on their home answering machine. Very strange.

She speaks French, she has loads of French friends and if she ever moves away from her London home the only place she’ll even consider living is Paris. Mind you there’s one very good reason for Kim’s love of France. And that’s because the French love Kim Wilde.

Whilst she’s been virtually down the dumper everywhere else in the world, they’ve kept her career alive. “They kinda sustained me”, she explains, “during the five years at various times. You see, it was sensational at the beginning of my career and it’s kind of sensation now. But in between there were times when it was not incredibly good.”

Those quiet periods were nothing. The worst was yet to come. For after a string of hit singles at least somewhere in the world, things really hit rock bottom in 1984. “That was a pretty shaky time”, Kim recalls with a hint of sadness. “I wasn’t having any hits in England and the hits in Europe weren’t that big. Success was slipping fast. So I just got on with it, bulldozing my way through life.”

But it’s not as simple as Kim getting her act together. Up until that point she had never written a solitary song for herself. It was in fact her dad Marty, a teen idol himself in the fifties, and brother Ricki who wrote all the songs, produced them and steered Kim’s career. But then they completely dried up. Disaster hour or what!

“‘Kids in America’ was a success quickly. After that came ‘Chequered Love’ and then it kinda snowballed for two years. I didn’t have very much confidence and I didn’t really think I could write songs. So I wasn’t too keen on discovering whether I could or not – just in case I couldn’t. I think what happened with Marty and Ricki is that they exhausted their songwriting ideas and I suffered because of it.”

Which is good enough reason for anyone else to go looking elsewhere for help. But the Wilde family sticks together, blood being thicker than water and all that. “We should’ve really got other writers in at that point”, Kim admits. “But we’re loyal to each other and I wasn’t going to leave a sinking ship. Come sink or swim I was gonna stay with them and that’s why I’m so happy with the success of this single (‘You Keep Me Hangin’ On’).”

Yes, but is this song not a cover version of an ancient Diana Ross & The Supremes hit? Therefore it hardly qualifies as a Wilde masterpiece…. “I’ve never released a cover version before but I didn’t even think about that”, she defends. “I felt that what Ricki and I had done to it stood up on its own merits and that’s the reason why we released it – apart from the fact that it had been a success twenty years ago. It wasn’t even a song that I would quote as my favourite of all time.”

Kim Wilde’s favourite songs of all time

1. “Baby I Love You” by Aretha Franklin
2. “My Funny Valentine” by whoever, it’s just a beautiful song. Elvis Costello did a version which is beautiful.
3. “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” by Frank Sinatra
4. Lots of things by Julie London.
5. Lots of things by Lou Reed. “They’re just the first things that came to my mind!”

Still, ‘You Keep Me Hangin’ On’ did manage to catapult Kimbo back to great chart heights again. So is it fair to say that people are only interested in her once in a blue moon?
“It has been like that in the last few years”, she concedes with a shudder. “Though songs that don’t do well maybe in Australia or the UK will do very well in France or Germany or somewhere else and I’ll be there promoting away oblivious to the fact that they haven’t done well in other territories.”

It’s just Kim’s luck that when she finally gets a hit at home, it has to fight it out at the top of the charts with a dodgy American group named after a European city.
“Aaah”, she begins, adopting the accent of a young frauline. “Burrlinn. I don’t think that song (“Take My Breath Away”) is very good. It’s very, very droll. But of course Top Gun was goin’ great guns in the UK and everyone was goin’ to see it with their boyfriends and boyfriends were buying it for their girlfriends and… all that rubbish!”

Oh dear. But could this spite have anything to do with the fact that “Take My Breath Away” kept Kimbo’s single from the number one spot in her homeland? “No, I just consider myself lucky to still be around after five years”, she says. “I don’t take for granted the success I have had. Just to be involved in music to me is more important than being on the cover of Smash Hits.”

Charming! So just what is it that Ms Wilde spends her time doing between “hits”? She mentions all those boring things that you’d imagine singers do – writing songs, rehearsing them and recording in the studio. Plus it seems she is something a clubber, quoting London’s trendy Wag Club as her fave haunt. But she still has to be careful when trotting out. “There are times that you avoid goin’ to public places. Like you don’t go to Soho on the night when the football’s on and all the lads are in the pub getting drunk. They’re usually together, usually football supporters and they’ll say, ‘Give us a kiss’ and then the next thing you know they grab hold of you.” Mmmmm, sounds like the sort of experience to send a gal running from most blokes.

“I’ve had boyfriends”, Kim reveals. “for the most part there’s a little bit of fun but the rest of it’s a pain in the ass. That’s my experience.”

And what’s more, a popster involved in a “relationship” is only more fodder for the scandal crazy English “news” papers. They’ve already given Kim a hard time in the past because of her family’s much-publicised involvement in her career – one which she admits is still quite strong although she is now writing many of her own songs. It was generally thought by several people that she was merely a puppet for the talents of Marty and Ricki Wilde. And this is still a rather sore point all these years later.

“I knew I was gonna have a tough time”, says Kim. “But I’ve done interviews for five years now and people still don’t have the foggiest idea who I am. They just don’t seem to know me any better! I’m a person who’s about music and people are gonna find that out sooner or later – they can’t keep callin’ me a dumb blonde for too much longer – I’d die if they did!”