From wave-girl to parttime popstar

Date
Published in
Volkskrant (Netherlands)
Written by
Pablo Cabenda

Eighties popstar Kim Wilde goes on tour again and steps into the trend of momentary pop veterans.

Still as intensely blond as twenty five years ago. The only difference is, where the hair of the unapproachable wave girl were always straight up, the mother of two now wears it at shoulder length. Kim Wilde hasn't used hairspray since the eighties. It's bad for the environment. A person gets older, wiser, more aware of the environment and there comes a time when you can appreciate a rose bush just as much as a number one hit. Wilde does, at least. Because Wilde is just happy being in her back garden. The British popstar who scored a hit out of the blue in 1981 with 'Kids in America' retreated into horticulture in 1997 and makes use of her green fingers by presenting the programme 'Garden Invaders' for the BBC. And now? Now Wilde is touring again and plays Paradiso in Amsterdam on February 22. Wilde has stepped into the trend of a growing company of artists from the seventies and eighties who started their second life in pop; a pleasant shadow existance outside of the charts. It's often a tired, though for the stars as well as the fans a satisfactory, mirroring of the heydays. The singer combined her wave image with songs that were poppy enough for top 40 chart placings in the eighties. 'Kids in America' had a certain toughness, a boy's choir - Woho! -, guitars with four accellerations and an ADHD synth. The singer sang songs that were as airy as they were thought through and oozed a sex appeal which she got from her ravishing beauty and the fact that she never laughed on camera. Wilde shot up. And got a convincing career after her first hit. But when the success formula - boys choir, guitars and synths - started to wear thin after 'Cambodia' and 'View from a bridge', her career faded. Wilde didn't fit into the British pop era dominated by hit factory Stock, Aitken and Waterman (Rick Astley, Mel & Kim, Kylie Minogue). But where pop hasbeens in the old days used to turn to anonymity or drugs, Wilde managed to end up on top. There was a revelation when she moved to a cottage on the countryside at the end of the nineties. The singer called the discovery of her own two hands a 'religious experience'. She wanted a fun, ecologically sensible garden for her children and devoted herself to the study of horticulture. The craze blossomed into a gardening column in the British quality paper 'The Guardian' called 'Wilde side', a book about gardening, with another one on the way, since 1999 the TV programme 'Better Gardens' followed by 'Garden Invaders' and a crowning glory: a gold medal at the prestigious Royal Horticultural Society Chelsea Flower Show last year. But just once more the blond singer wanted to try again and Wilde recorded 'Anplace anywhere anytime' together with '99 Luftballons'-Nena in 2003. Against all her expectations they scored a hit. And so the vamp started to think of a singing career again. And so, her latest album was released last year: a product that contains remixes of old songs for the most part. Between recording 'Garden Invaders' she tries to breathe new life in her pop career. With the note that renewed success as a singer is allowed, but doesn't have to arise. And with that she adds further contributions to the undermining of the mythic pop star status. Because in 2007 being an idol is possible as a part time job, a hobby. And ever since pop heroes from the seventies don't die before their career does, more people will undoubtedly follow. Gigs become occasional tournaments for veterans. It has something beautiful, stardom as an undemanding hobby while the real passion lies elsewhere. When Wilde muses between songs during her concert in Paradiso it won't be over her old glory days, but rather about how lovely the primula's looked last year.