Kim's a singer who wants to be herself

Date
Published in
Sydney Morning Herald (Australia)
Written by
Andrew Stephens

Just because she has blond hair, saucer-shaped eyes, a slender figure and an enchanting voice, Kim Wilde often finds herself compared with such contemporaries as Madonna, Samantha Fox and Debbie Harry.

But Kim is, in all ways, vastly different to her ultra-female modernist peers. A woman who strongly dislikes the concept of deliberate image-making in the music industry, and for whom comparisons are not a welcome topic, Kim Wilde finds ample contentment in simply being herself.

"I don't really have a definable image, I've hardly spent five minutes on it", she said recently in Melbournce. "I don't care about image. I think it is contrived and shallow."

However, if one were to make the fatal comparison: Madonna has made millions not only because of her music and voice, but also because of her multi-faceted image.

But, says Kim: "I would like people to see me as an individual, not compare me with other people. People do respect the fact that I have been in music for more than five years now and that I know what I am about. But inevitably they ask how do I scratch up against Madonna and Cyndi Lauper and even Samantha Fox, simply because I am blond and I sing."

As far as the 26-year old singer is concerned, images, videos and charismas are very poor runners-up to good music and artistry. Kim is a tough hybrid of the '80s, embodying a curious mix of poppy-commercialism, serious attitudes and great talent. She has hankered after a music career since she was 16, acquired it when she was 20 and blossomed within it rather quickly since then with five successful albums. She has just released a selection of the best of the material she has written in the past year, which she says is much finer and stronger than the songs she has released in the past.

"We were very well prepared for this album (called Another Step) and I have been working very hard at it", she said. "We managed to choose the 12 strongest works because there was an excess of material. I am not just a pretty face."

Her deeply-expressed feminism is truly individual, and flows forth in the way, and what, she sings. Her cover of the old Supremes hit, You Keep Me Hangin' On has even been adapted to allow Kim to sing what she felt. To the faithless and constricting male egoist lover portrayed in the song, Kim ends up belting out "get out of my life!" - in marked contrast to Ross's eventual forgiveness in the original version.

"My version makes it clear that there's no way he's going to get another look into my personal life", she said. "I think it's tougher, and more reflective of the way people have relationships in the 1980s."

The little girl making a token stand against the male supremo in the '60s era was no longer applicable, she said, and out of date with the ingrained strength of womanhood today. "It's really important that men and women be on an equal footing", she said.

While she admits the music industry is still generally male-dominated - "I mean, I can't name one female producer" - she thinks women have made considerable inroads. She writes most of her songs and has a substantial involvement in the way her records finally emerge. It's a direction she wants to pursue, ahead of anything else.

"Yes, I am serious about my music and the way it sounds. I am more confident and happier than I have ever been, at the moment", she says. Her songwriting reflects her experiences and views.

"Not all of it is autobiographical, some of it's imagined," she said. "But the most important thing is that it has a lot of my energy. I really love to be in front of an audience and have that communication with them. I want to do more concerts. I like to have their feedback. I was a real performer at school and loved it, so I'll always have that. But I find a lot of videos boring and repetitive and I am not interested in that area at all."