Tom Duke & Grønærten

Tom Duke met Marie-Louise in 2004, when he started a sports team for visually impaired children. He recorded an album to benefit children with cancer, using some of the children from the sports team as a choir. Marie-Louise enjoyed being in the studio.

During a live performance near her home, Tom asked her on stage and she sang along to some of the songs. They continued to perform live together from time to time.

On 2 August 2007, Tom Duke & Grønærten, as they called themselves, performed live at the Langelandsfestival in Denmark. One of the songs they performed was a cover version of Kids in America, since Kim was also on the bill. Marie-Louise and Kim briefly met backstage, singing Kids in America together. Tom Duke & Grønærten subsequently recorded ‘Kids in America’ in the studio for the release of an EP, released later in the year.

Although the two don’t perform together anymore, Tom Duke is still going strong, performing live on Danish festivals, most notably the Langelandsfestival where he has performed every year since 1993.


Taivalkunta Beat

Taivalkunta Beat is a Finnish band founded in 1997 that plays pop and rock music. The band’s leaders are the twins Juha and Vesa Pokkinen. The band was founded on July 7, 1997. The name has its roots in the village of Taivalkunta, where two members of the band spent their summers and holidays.

The founding members were Mika Laitinen on drums, Vesa Pokkinen (solo guitar) and Juha Pokkinen (composite guitar, vocals and bass codings). At the first gigs, Ilkka Saari visited as a singer, but soon the responsibility for singing passed to Juha Pokkinen. Initially, the band played mainly at village parties or at various events at a local golf club. Soon the gig venues increased and dance venue professional Jouko Elevaara became interested in the band. In 1999, the band performed as a standard band on Finland’s largest dance floor.

The band got a record deal with Tatsia Music in 2000, and the first record was called Miks Twist, from which the cover single ‘No Niin, Mary Lou’, a cover of the song ‘Hello Mary Lou’. In 2001, bassist Jani Kaunisto joined the band. The band participated in the Entertainer 2002 band competition and was ranked in the top three. ‘Kirkkonummen Ralla’, released in 2003, was the band’s second album, and Juha and Vesa Pokkinen’s own song ‘Ikkunan takaa’ became a radio hit.

In 2004, drummer Mika Laitinen left the band. Jasu Mäntylä became the new drummer. The band’s gig numbers increased, and the title track of the next album, called ‘Luulin, Että Pärjään’ became Radio-Finland’s most played song. The fourth album was named ‘Kaunis Kulkija’. It was selected as the local radio record of the month in August 2008.

In February 2010, the band ceased operations for the time being. They returned four years later: since the autumn of 2014, the Pokkinen brothers have been touring Taivalkunta Beat as a duo. In May 2020, they released a new album called ‘Instrumental’, featuring a few own compositions as well as instrumental cover versions of various songs from the 1960’s, 1970’s and 1980’s. One of the tracks is an instrumental cover version of Kids in America.


Minipops

Minipops was a television series broadcast in 1983 in the United Kingdom. Designed primarily for younger viewers, it consisted of music performances on a brightly coloured set featuring pre-teen children singing then-contemporary pop music hits and older classics. The children were usually made to look like the original performers, including clothing and make-up.

The show was cancelled after the first year (due to the controversial adult lyrics), but a new kid spin-off group from London called the Mini-Pops was created and they released albums by K-tel in 1982 and 1983. The album ‘We’re the Minipops’, released in 1982, featured a cover version of Kids in America, as well as other pop songs from 1981 and 1982.

Their popularity soared in Canada after a tour there in 1983, prompting a final album on K-tel (‘Christmas’). With the rights by then picked up by Quality Records in Canada, a couple more LP’s followed. The last Minipops release happened in 1989.


Kizooks

An anonymous group of singers and musicians under the name of Kizooks released an album of Eighties cover versions in 2004. Entitled ‘Super Huge, Very Big Hits’, the album contained cover versions of ‘What I like about you’, ‘Walkin’ on sunshine’, ‘Walk like an Egyptian’ and Kids in America, amongst others.

The identity of the singers remains undisclosed. There were no other albums by Kizooks, although ‘Walk like an Egyptian’ did end up on a compilation album released by Koch Records in 2005.


Kids in America

Song written by Ricky and Marty Wilde.
The song was recorded in 1980 after RAK Records boss Mickie Most heard Wilde singing on a backing track for her brother Ricky Wilde (most probably Tearaway). He liked her voice and image and expressed an interest to work with her. Ricky Wilde, together with his father Marty wrote the song ‘Kids in America’ for Kim to record, using a WASP synthesizer. Ricky later stated that the main synth line was inspired by that of Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark’s ‘Messages’. He recorded a demo with Kim at The Lodge, produced together with Steve Stewart of The Enid. They went into the studio with everything except the words to the chorus, which Marty Wilde, who was responsible for writing the lyrics to the song, came up with at the last minute. The line “Whoah-oh!”, which is sung after the song’s title lyrics, was originally meant to be a guitar lick or a brass stab, but sounded much better sung by the male backing vocals, according to Marty. Most heard the demo and decided to remix the track himself. He released it on RAK as Wilde’s first single in January 1981. Later it appeared as track 5 on Kim’s debut album Kim Wilde.

The single, released on 26 January 1981, was an immediate hit, peaking at number 2 on the UK singles chart. It sold over 2 million copies worldwide. The following year it became a Top 30 hit in the US. In the summer of 1981, the track appeared on Wilde’s self-titled debut album.

In 2005, the song was included in the soundtrack album of the movie Daltry Calhoun. In 2023 the song appeared on the soundtrack of the movie She Came from the Woods.

Versions

In 1994, several remixes of the track were released as Kids in America 1994. The compilation album The Remix Collection, released the same year, included the Maranza mix of ‘Kids in America’.
In 2001, a remix entitled ‘Bright lights remix’ was released on The Very Best of Kim Wilde.
In 2006, Kim included a new version called Kids in America (2006) on her album Never Say Never.
In 2007, a live version of ‘Kids in America’ was released on the cd-single Baby Obey Me. This live version was recorded on 21 February 2007 at Ancienne Belgique, Brussels (Belgium).
A live version recorded during the UK live tour was included in the deluxe edition of Here Come the Aliens in 2018 and on Aliens Live in 2019.
In 2020, Cherry Pop released five new remixes: Luke Mornay Remix, Luke Mornay Instrumental, Popfidelity Allstars remix, Popfidelity Allstars instrumental and the Neutrophic remix.

Formats

In the UK and America, the single was only released on 7″ format. However, in Germany a 12″ single was also made and distributed around Europe. This 12″ single contained no special versions, it contained the same tracks as the 7″ single.
See also this page in the discography.

Music video

A music video was filmed to promote the single. It was directed by Brian Grant.
Go to this page for more information.

Live performances

‘Kids in America’ was performed live on each and every live concert by Kim Wilde since her Debut Tour in 1982.

Cover versions

‘Kids in America’ has been covered by 80 Caliber, Aequivox, Aje’h, Aksons, Alchemy, All Right Tokyo, Alvin and the Chipmunks, American Juniors, The Anchor, Billy Joe Armstrong, Atombuzz, Atomic Kitten, Audia, Back beach all stars, Bad Biscut, the Bam Bams, The Baseballs, Beat Crusaders, Beautiful Boy, Big-Box Store, BIIANCO, Bitch Alert, Malin Björkman, Blonde Electra, Bloodhound Gang, Bouncing souls, Brewed & bottled, Brokken Roses, Bronnie, Carne de Puta, Cascada, Catch 22, Chaos Engine, Chilli and the Peanuts, CineMuerte, Corporate Christ, Cover Up, Born Crain, DJ Boonie, Dr. & the Medics, Patrick Daly, Darling Waste, DeadraveN, Dedeepedoodah, Disco Express, Dizel, the Donnas, Dan Dryers, Tom Duke & Gronaerten, Effcee, EiRR0R, Electric Six, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Energy Function Band, Euphrasia, Foo Fighters, Fourth grade nothing, GAD ’80, Ghoul, Gino Marinello Orchestra, Gonzo, Good Kitty, Grzegorz, Guter, the Happy Revolvers, the Harvard Din & Tonics, Andrew Howie, Joshua Dumas and Katy Albert, Charlotte Hatherley, Hiddys, Hot Stewards, It’s a cover up, Jean-Claude Petit Orchestra, Jive Bunny & the Mastermixers, Kick, Kim, Kim-Lian, Kizooks, Nicolette Knight, Lawnmower Deth, the Larks, Lyane Leigh, Len, Liquid Lava, Local Oafs, the Lollies, Lolly, Los Angeles de Tute, L’uke, LVCRFT, Malin, Marsha, Javier Martinez Maya, Mickey Trump, Minipops, Morella’s Forest, the Motorettes, the Muffs, MxPx, Naked Aggression, Nasty Habits, Night Shift Band, Nirvana, No Label, No Secrets, NOFX, The Omega Point, One Coin, One Direction, Orange Sector, Orko, Plunk, Radio Wendy, Radspitz, Richard Romance Sythesizer Section, Rockhouse Brothers, de Romeo’s, Room full of strangers, Rubbish, Rude Boy George, Runway MMC, John Rushton, Saws ‘n’ Squares, S.E.X. Appeal, Shebang, Silence, Sixteen Deluxe, Snake Eye, Sylvio de Silver, Sômbre, Strawberry Slaughterhouse, Sugar Beats, Lynn Sweet, Tasty, Terminus City, Terremoto Party, That Eighties Band, Them Sluts, Taivalkunta Beat, Tiffany, Tin Lizzy, Tři Sestry, The Twang, Ursüla, Virgin Suicides, Benjamin Wagner, Sarah Walker, the Wynona Riders, Yohmm and the Young Knives.
There are eight versions of ‘Kids in America’ with different lyrics:

Plus the following versions of ‘Kids in America’ with different lyrics and a different language:

The song is quoted in the track The Art of Losing by American Hi-fi.

Marty Wilde about ‘Kids in America’

This was the song that started Kim off and it’s a very important track. The melody line was written by Rick at our Hertfordshire home and it really came quite quickly, in about half an hour. We originally thought it would be a great title for an album as well as a single and had this vision of the sleeve which would feature a New York skyscraper with Kim’s face in an aura in the background instead of the sun or moon. It was our first hit, written for enjoyment and we were delighted that it got as high as it did. (1)

Mickie Most about ‘Kids in America’

What I heard, immediately, was a hit. The public today is looking for a less polished, slightly do-it-yourself sound in records generally. I knew instinctively that this could be the start of a huge record, and a big career for the girl. (2)

Ricky Wilde about ‘Kids in America’

I wanted to be a singer. I went into a demo studio and recorded a couple of tracks and went into RAK Studios. And Mickie Most came out and heard it and said “Yeah, I like it, but I want this to be recorded with a different producer”. Which I wasn’t too happy about. So I said “Yeah, okay, I’ll do it”, cause it was a record deal. So I went in there, recorded these couple of songs and I said to the guy who was producing me, a guy called Steve, I said, “Steve, it is alright if I bring my sister in to do backing vocals?”. He says, “Yeah, fine, bring her in”. So Kim came in and started singing. When she was singing Mickie Most came in and said “She looks good. I like her voice as well, maybe we can do something with her”, and he walked out.
And then Steve looks at me and said, “Yeah, maybe I can produce something with Kim as well”. And I thought, “Hang on a minute… I’m not sure about this”. So that’s when I went home that night, wrote ‘Kids in America’, booked two days studio time in a separate studio, recorded it with Kim, then went back to Mickie and said, “Look, this is a song with Kim that I produced, what do you think of it?”, and he thought it was a smash. Then it became priority over my stuff. (3)

Kim about ‘Kids in America’

I knew it was a hit, and within a month it had been remixed here, in Mickie Most’s studio. The record was all quick-quick-quick. Ricky and my father wrote it quite quickly, it was demo’d quickly, mixed quickly, and went up the chart quickly. That’s the way I like pop music to be: write a good song, sing it, and get on with the next before there’s time to think about it too much. (4)

I still like my song Kids in America. I’m just waiting for one of tese new bands to cover it. Someone like Jesus And Chain Mary Gang, whatever it’s called… Jesus And Main (bursts into hysterical laughter and puts on a granny voice)… what’s that new-fangled pop band called, the one that all the young people like these days…?! (5)

That’s the fun about music: it should wind people up a bit. I mean, “Kids in America” really wound people up. It was such an infectious song that people really hated liking it. It was sung by an English girl whose father had written the lyrics and whose brother had produced it. And it was on RAK Records to boot. “From New York to East California…” Where the hell’s that? I still don’t know! And everybody loved it.

When it was a hit in America, they were like, ‘Why ‘East California’? Why not all the way over to the west? Why miss out on that whole section of California that’s not mentioned in the song?’ And I said, ‘Well, they already got it. The people from the west side have already got it. We just had to bring it over to the east.’ I was finding myself trying to come up with any excuse as to why my dad might have written ‘East California’, and if you ask him, quite disarmingly, he’ll just say, ‘Cause it sounded better’. (6)

It’s strange to have any feelings about that one any more, because I’ve been asked about it relentlessly for 13 years. I still really enjoy performing it. It’s easy to like ‘Kids In America’ because everybody else loves it. I can see that it’s a classic song, which explains why there’s the interest in remixing it again. I can’t say that about every record I’ve released, but I think I can say that about ‘Kids In America’. (7)

I did hear the one by Lawnmower Deth. They have made a trashmental-version. And there’s a horrific version in the movie Clueless. It’s really horrible. But I like that the song comes up every now and again. It doesn’t surprise me, because it was such an enormous hit. And everyone still likes the song. (8)

Highest chart positions

Australia: 2
Austria: 12
Belgium: 4
Canada: 34
France: 3
Germany: 5 (32 weeks)
Ireland: 2 (9 weeks)
Netherlands: 6 (13 weeks)
New Zealand: 5
Norway: 9
South Africa: 1
Sweden: 2 (18 weeks)
Switzerland: 5 (11 weeks)
United Kingdom: 2 (13 weeks)
United States: 25 (18 weeks)

Interview sources:
(1) Kim Wilde Fanclub Introductory Magazine
(2) Kim Wilde taking different route to top : Word-of-mouth, Personal Promotions, Not Live Shows build sales, Billboard (USA), 19 September 1981
(3) Frequenstar, M6 (France), 5 October 1992
(4) The Wilde side of Kim, Melody Maker (UK), 11 April 1981
(5) Miss Heartache, Frontline (UK), 1988
(6) Mad World (book), 2014
(7) Kim Wilde, Record Collector (UK), September 1993
(8) ‘I don’t talk about my lovelife, not even for money’, Aktueel (Netherlands), 1995


Lyrics

Looking out a dirty old window
Down below the cars in the city go rushing by
I sit here alone
And I wonder why

Friday night and everyone’s moving
I can feel the heat but it’s shooting
Heading down
I search for the beat in this dirty town

Down town, the young ones are going
Down town, the young ones are growing

We’re the kids in America – woh-oh
We’re the kids in America – woh-oh
Everybody live for the music-go-round

Bright lights the music gets faster
Look boy, don’t check on your watch
Not another glance
I’m not leaving now, honey not a chance

Hot-shot, give me no problems
Much later baby you’ll be saying never mind
You know life is cruel, life is never kind

Kind hearts don’t make a new story
Kind hearts don’t grab any glory

We’re the kids in America
We’re the kids in America
Everybody live for the music-go-round

Come closer, honey that’s better
Got to get a brand new experience
Feeling right
Oh don’t try to stop, baby, hold me tight

Outside a new day is dawning
Outside Sububia’s sprawling everywhere
I don’t want to go baby

New York to East California
There’s a new wave coming I warn ya

We’re the kids in America
We’re the kids in America
Everybody live for the music-go-round

We’re the kids
We’re the kids
We’re the kids in America

Damals war’s

Date
7 January 2018
Channel
MDR (Germany)

Three minute report about Kim’s debut hit, ‘Kids in America’. Kim is interviewed about the first year of her career, when she had hits with ‘Kids in America’, ‘Chequered love’ and ‘Cambodia’. Clips of performances in Musikladen are shown. At the end, there is also a small clip of Kim performing ‘Kids in America’ live during ‘Rock meets Classic’ in 2014.

Kids in America

Release date: 26 January 1981Producer: Ricky Wilde Track listing Formats 7″ format Australia: RAK 418Brazil: RAK…

Top 2000 a gogo

Date
26 December 2015
Channel
NPO 3 (Netherlands)

Interview with Kim Wilde, recorded in the summer in the garden of her home in Hertfordshire. Kim tells about how her debut single ‘Kids in America’ came to be, and also how she ended up singing that song on the train late at night, having become a bit drunk.

The One Show

Date
16 May 2013
Channel
BBC (UK)

5 minute documentary about the song ‘Kids in America’. The room where Ricky wrote the song is shown, as well as the Wasp synthesizer he wrote it with. Kim and Rick tell all about the creation and legacy of the song.

Moderne klassikere

Date
31 January 2012
Channel
DR (Denmark)

30 minute documentary about Kim Wilde’s debut hit, ‘Kids in America’. Features new interviews with Kim Wilde, Ricky Wilde, Marty Wilde and video director Brian Grant. Kim and Ricky visit the RAK studios where the song was recorded, Marty is interviewed in his own home.

Danish version of Hitlåtens historia.

Hitlåtens historia

Date
24 January 2012
Channel
SVT (Sweden)

30 minute documentary about Kim Wilde’s debut hit, ‘Kids in America’. Features new interviews with Kim Wilde, Ricky Wilde, Marty Wilde and video director Brian Grant. Kim and Ricky visit the RAK studios where the song was recorded, Marty is interviewed in his own home.

Symphonic show

Date
6 January 2007
Channel
France 2 (France)

Kim Wilde performs a version of ‘Kids in America’ with the orchestra from the Night of the Proms, consisting of 130 musicians.