Date: 26 August 2011
Originally published in: Frankfurter Rundschau (Germany)
Written by: Patrick Heidmann
With songs like “Kids in America”, “Cambodia” and “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” Kim Wilde was the most successful pop singer in Europe in the 1980s, and even made it into the U.S. at the top of the charts. As the success waned, she retreated from the pop business, raised a family and provided attention for gardening with books and television programmes. For several years now the 50-year-old is back on stage, this week her new album “Snapshots” is released.
Mrs. Wilde, on your new album you sing the hits of other people. Why?
This has resulted over the last five or six years in which I performed live frequently. I do not only play my old songs, I loose the program with a few unexpected cover versions. This pleased my record company, who proposed the idea to me.
How did the album concept came about, selecting the songs? Is this the soundtrack of your life?
It is a tribute to the pop music that has shaped most of the years of life. Some pieces are very personal for me. “Anyone Who Has a Heart” by Cilla Black, for example, has impressed me deeply as a child. Others, like “Beautiful Ones” by Suede, I have chosen, because it’s the great pop songs I like to sing.
Wenn you look at the current hit parade: Which songs would you like to cover?
I love Rihanna, “Only Girl In The World” is a great song. But for that you need a particular voice that I do not have. That was the sticking point in any case on “Snapshots”: I could not just choose songs that I like, but had to see what suits me and my voice.
Who is the typical visitor of a Kim Wilde concert?
This is a mixed bunch, in which one discovers some really young kids. But mostly there are people who already know me from the Eighties. There are many who were children at the time. But of course there are always some older people in the audience too.
This sounds like a multi-generation project?
If you now considering a cross-generational extended families, you’re wrong. It’s not like that. The mixture is amazingly versatile, wonderful thing I find.
But doesn’t it bother you, to be confronted with the Eighties all the time?
Not anymore. Today I enjoy my old hits that resonate. But when I withdrew in the 1990s, I actually felt as a hostage of my past, as if we were to forbid me to develop myself. With my last album back then, I made some changes. But that was not well received. It robbed me of pleasure.
Why you came back as a singer?
Thanks to my two children and a new career as a landscape gardener, I saw my years suddenly pop in a new light. I again developed very positive feelings for my songs, and generally for the life of a musician. It’s fun again to see how much joy the old hits are still prepared.
How do you explain the enthusiasm for this era?
It’s just that it’s not that long ago. The 1980s are far enough away to create feelings of nostalgia. But also again so close that each somehow still has vivid memories of them. There were also many strong personalities and types in pop during those years.
Are they absent now?
I think we could certainly use more. After all, there is Lady Gaga. I think her madness and passion for pop is fascinating. She is also a fantastic singer. I am sure that she, like Madonna, can reinvent herself and will still surprise people for many years. Her best works are yet to come.
Your comeback album “Come Out and Play” reached the Top Ten in Germany last year, while it wasn’t released in your own country, Britain. How do you explain that?
There are probably several reasons, but one can certainly make very clear. A few years ago “Anyplace, Anywhere, Anytime”, my duet with Nena, was a huge hit in Germany.
Was it in the 1980s easier to be famous? Easier than it is today?
Of course it was easier before the Internet existed. Today each step is indeed observed, photographed and commented. And whoever does not voluntarily cooperate, which is just involuntarily drawn into this system, as we have just experienced in England in the Murdoch eavesdropping scandal. Dreadful! But I am careful what I say on the phone or in writing e-mails and SMS. If you don’t say or do anything what cannot also be done publicly, hopefully you’re on the safe side.