Kim Wilde at a crossroads

When Kim entered the charts in February 1981 with ‘Kids in America’ she was competing with popular acts like Adam and the Ants, Ultravox, Madness, The Stray Cats and Joe Dolce (‘Shaddupa Your Face’).

Twelve years on the now 33 year old Kim Wilde has survived them all and is the most successful British single artist of all times.
That she would work in music was predictable. Her father Marty Wilde was continually scoring hits between 1958 and 1963. When his songs were not as effective anymore father Marty drew his attention towards his son Ricky at first. But however he tried, it never became very special. It turned out that way when he let his daughter sing backing vocals. ‘Holy macaroni’, the family of Italian descent must have called out, the voice of Kim dominated the demo tape so much that it was decided to start her pop career a few years earlier. Exit Ricky, welcome Kimmy.

Father and son wrote ‘Kids in America’ for her, after which the record company offered her a multiple year contract on the spot. Although Kim was a rather shy girl despite her glamorous descent and really preferred Art College, she had no choice. ‘Kids in America’ stormed to second place and before she knew it Kim was the teenage idol of countless boys and girls. The instant success could be explained with her image. Different from styled stars like Madonna and Whitney Houston kids could identify more easily with the ‘normal’ Kim, because just like the ‘girl next door’ Kim was a little too fat, moved around a little clumsy and bought her clothes at C&A.

Kim had no trouble keeping hold of success. After ‘Kids in America’ the other hits ‘Chequered love’, ‘Cambodia’, ‘View from a bridge’ and ‘Love blonde’ quickly followed. Kim’s own explanation for the attention she got was just as simple as the cool way she stood in life. ‘In the beginning of the eighties we were dealing with the aftermath of punk. Everyone tried desperately to find their own style. Looking angry, a wealth of clothing. I didn’t need to be hip and trendy, I wanted to make good pop songs, no more and no less. And what is that exactly? A good melody and a simple lyric. That’s how my father worked in the fifties, the Beatles in the sixties, and that’s how it will be in fourty years from now.’

After nine albums and 26 singles – of which 17 million have sold in total worldwide – Kim has arrived at a crossroads in her career. With the release of the greatest hits cd ‘The very best of Kim Wilde 1981-1993’ a chapter seems to have been closed. ‘When I supported Michael Jackson (in 1989) and David Bowie (1990) I often wondered whether my music would be good enough for such large stadiums. Strangely enough it was. There must be enough pretentious, pompous music around. I won’t change that much in the future, as long as I’m still proud of songs like ‘Chequered love’ and ‘Cambodia’.