Pop profile: Kim Wilde

Kim-Wilde-Close-coverThis month marks the 25th anniversary of Kim Wilde’s 1988 album Close – and to celebrate Universal Music has released a deluxe re-mastered edition. Wilde’s sixth studio album shifted over two million copies worldwide and delivered three back-to-back UK top ten hits including the international smash You Came.  With rare solo live dates in the UK later this year, Russell Iliffe decides to take a retrospective look at the British singer songwriter’s long and varied pop career.

Shooting to fame in the early eighties, Kim went on to score 20 UK top 40 hits as well as racking up global sales of 10 million albums and 20 million singles. The daughter of 1950’s rock ‘n’ roll star Marty Wilde exploded on to the music scene from nowhere in 1981 with her debut single Kids in America.  With its moody new wave vibe and hugely infectious chorus, it peaked at number two in the UK and reached the US top 30.

The Wilde family were a musical unit with dad Marty and Kim’s brother (and producer) Ricky co-writing follow-up hits including Chequered Love, Cambodia and View from a Bridge. However, as the decade progressed, her records experienced a dip in sales with the breezy jazziness of Love Blonde and under-rated Hi-NRG stomper The Second Time both stalling outside the top 20.

Kim-WildeThere was a massive reversal of fortune in 1986 when Kim’s cover of The Supremes hit You Keep Me Hangin’ On rocketed to number two in the UK.  Reaching number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 the following year, Wilde became only the fifth British female soloist to do so. In fact, only Leona Lewis and Adele have managed to reach the pinnacle since.

However, it was her 1988 album Close that became her most commercially successful worldwide.  Produced by Ricky Wilde and Tony Swain, this sixth studio set seemed to fit in perfectly with the pop music of the late eighties.

By this time Kim was songwriting alongside her brother and father and the album’s second single You Came, for which she provided the lyrics, was huge. Soaring to number three in the UK, it was followed into the top ten by Never Trust a Stranger and Four Letter Word. The singer also supported Michael Jackson on his Bad tour in Europe giving the album further exposure and success internationally.

Kim Wilde kids in americaLike many eighties stars, Kim’s chart career continued into the early nineties but with somewhat less consistency. There were hits with the Belinda Carlisle-esque Love Is Holy and Saturday Night Fever cover If I Can’t Have You, as well as a successful singles compilation.

The 21st century has seen Kim not only becoming a favourite on the eighties revival circuit but also enjoying chart success in continental Europe with new material. And of course, her 1987 hit cover of Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree, alongside Mel Smith, continues to be heard on our radios and in the shops every Christmas.

For details of her current tour, see http://www.kimwilde.com/tour-dates

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