Kim Wilde: ‘I felt caged in by Kids in America’

The singer, 55, on a life in music, being objectified as a pop star in the 80s, and why she’s become less fearful as she’s got older

Music was everything when I was growing up. My dad [Marty Wilde] was always playing the guitar, writing songs, singing.

I vividly remember Cilla Black’s “Anyone Who Had a Heart” going to No 1 in 1964. I was four; I had no comprehension of what it was about, but I could feel the passion in the lyrics.

After the 1980s I felt very caged in by “Kids in America”. I put out a more R&B influenced album but the public just didn’t want that girl Kim Wilde doing that. So I got out of the music business. Now I realise what a piece of gold that song is; I feel extremely honoured it’s mine.

Looks were a big part of my success, and I always understood that. I grew up in the 70s when there were a lot of beautiful people around, not least David Bowie. I embraced it, but I never took myself that seriously.

I felt a bit objectified as a pop star in the 80s, but I went along with it quite willingly. Although you’ll never find pictures of me displaying half as much as what the girls are showing these days. Maybe they’ve got better bodies!

The other day my daughter said to me: “It’s different now, Mum, it’s not so good, you had the best of it.” But everyone says that about every decade. It just seems to be the human condition to keep making the same mistakes.

The older I get the less things scare me. So when someone asked if they could put that video online of me on the tube [drunkenly singing Rocking Around the Christmas Tree] I just thought: “Everyone’s been to a Christmas party and got paralytic. I’m not going to get in the way of this.” It went viral.

There’s a sort of worldwide consciousness about Christmas that allows you to think about what it means to be a human being a bit more than you do for the rest of the year. That’s partly what inspired my Christmas album.

People need gardening more than ever before. Anything to get people connected to the planet and excited about what nature does is important.

I love the build-up to a show. I walk out of my house after having done a load of laundry, or whatever, and I put on a slightly higher pair of shoes, some red lipstick, black eyeliner. By the time I get on to the stage, I’m Kim Wilde. I’ve made a complete metamorphosis.

I had a bit of a bad time in my early 30s. I was really lost and anxious. My dad said to me: “You’ve got to push out on the world.” I did and I recovered.

My kids have a healthy disrespect for money mixed with a healthy respect for it. I’m very proud of them for that.

I adore my two Airedales, Jess and Bo. And it’s not just me, the mad dog woman. We all love them. They’ve brought so much joy into our home.

The thing about ageing is that the good stuff happens where you can’t see it. The bad stuff happens where you can.

A deluxe edition of Wilde Winter Songbook is released on 4 December. Kim Wilde’s Christmas Party with Heaven 17 and Altered Images is at London’s O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire on 18 December