Kim Wilde. Mention her name and people’s eyes light up. The blonde singer with the siren voice is after all one of pop music’s most dazzling stars. For years she has held the record as England’s most successful female pop star ever. The French consider her the “Brigitte Bardot of Rock” and her German fans still venerate her as the sexiest glamour girl to come out of the eighties. Even today megahits such as “Kids In America” and “Cambodia” are guaranteed to rock the dance floor.
Some time in the planning, Kim Wilde’s long-awaited comeback is now finally underway. The singer has toured frequently over the last three to four years, naturally matured, but as stunningly attractive as ever. Her thrilling cover version of Steppenwolf’s “Born to be wild”, released in 2002, was just a sneak preview. Three years ago she and Nena recorded the classic “Anyplace, Anywhere, Anytime”, which promptly shot to the top of charts throughout Europe. Kim Wilde was back in all her glory and with renewed zest – with studio album number ten: “Never Say Never”, her first regular LP for more than ten years.
Never Say Never. Hear the title and you’re instantly reminded of Sean Connery’s legendary James Bond comeback. With Connery you always knew what you were getting. And Kim Wilde is no different. “Never Say Never” is an album which seems to know exactly what the fans are after. No lesser person than Uwe Fahrenkrog-Petersen, long-term partner and producer of Nena – Germany’s most successful female pop singer – and responsible for re-launching her career, has been entrusted with reinvigorating the English pop star. Kim Wilde was so sure of his judgement she even let him choose which of her classic hits should be honed for re-release. “I just told him to see which songs he liked the best. I couldn’t have remained neutral – I preferred to concentrate on the new songs”, commented Kim. “Kids In America” was naturally selected and is now ready, featuring rock singer and guitarist Charlotte Hatherley, who since leaving Ash has been pursuing a solo career and whose first solo album two years ago included a song called “Kim Wilde”. “Charlotte is a phenomenal singer and guitarist. I’m proud to have heron the record.”
The other Kim Wilde classics on “Never Say Never” which smooth the transition between her former meteoric career and her artistic status quo are also something more than lusciously nostalgic candyfloss. “You Keep Me Hangin‘ On”, that ultimate soul number by the Supremes, which saw Kim Wilde top the US charts for the first time in 1986 has been turned into yet another fantastically atmospheric duet with Nena – this time with the career focus in reverse. “View From A Bridge”, “You Came”, “Four Letter Word” and a Paul Oakenfield remix of “Cambodia” round off a highly polished trip down memory lane, recalling the greatest moments of the eighties. The new songs featured on the album are a welcome bonus, revealing Kim to be in fantastic form. “Perfect Girl” is true to its name: pop song perfection. “I Fly” is a no-frills rock number with riffs that really fly, reminiscent of Blur’s “Song 2″. The electrifying precision-produced dance pop number ”Forgive Me“, an environmental plea featuring Kim’s younger sister Roxanne as backing singer, is every bit as good as anything released by Madonna during her heyday. You can almost feel the sparks fly. Kim Wilde was blown away by the atmosphere in the studio: ”It was great to be working with Uwe and Jeo [the album’s sound engineer]. Everything just came together. The result is a unique blend of great music and fantastic sound. We spurred each other on to produce something really special.“
The wonderful thing about ”Never Say Never“ is that familiar feeling of euphoria you expect from the melodies combined with an utterly modern yet equally enthusiastic production. Kim Wilde’s voice is fuller and more mature, having forfeited none of its erotic timbre. The melodic strength emanating from such a dramatic number as ”Together We Belong“, composed by Kim, her brother Ricky and Fahrenkrog-Petersen, surpasses even her classic hits of the eighties and nineties. No less sensational is the seductive pop hymn ”Maybe I’m Crazy“. Mainstream pop can, indeed should, be this stirring and powerful. This is Kim Wilde for the 21st century. Even when she takes the tempo down a notch – such as in the sublime ballads ”Baby Obey Me“ and ”Lost Without You“ – each song on ”Never Say Never“ seems to express the magic of the moment. Whether recording in Hamburg, Berlin or London, Kim Wilde always gives the impression of being highly motivated and impressively calm. The return to the RAK studios in London was especially moving: ”It was strange to be back in the studio where I recorded all of my big hits. As Mickie Most has now passed away, it was really emotional to return to my former stamping ground. I could almost feel his presence.“
To give Kim Wilde’s exceptional career the credit it is due: the artist has had 14 number one hits and nearly 50 top five hits worldwide. With ten million albums and 20 million singles sold, Kim Wilde is the most successful British female artist of our time. Music runs in the Wilde family. Kim Wilde is the daughter of Marty Wilde, himself a rock’n’roller who still performs once a week, despite being 67 years old. Kim’s mother Joyce was also a singer and dancer in her younger days. At the age of nine Kim and her family moved from London to rural Hertfordshire, where she still lives today in idyllic surroundings with her husband and two children. It was her brother Ricky who in 1980 made his first demo at the legendary RAK studios with famous producer Mickie Most. Kim was actually only meant to sing backing, but for ”Kids in America“, composed jointly by Marty and Ricky Wilde, she was called to the front. In 1981 this fabulous single, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, launched the dream career of the blonde singer, who down the years has retained her naturalness and girl-next-door appeal. Just two years later in 1983 she was awarded a Brit, for which she has also been nominated three times. Kim Wilde’s greatest commercial successes were doubtless during the eighties, among them her tours with Michael Jackson (1988) and David Bowie (1990). She remained active in the pop scene until the mid-nineties, receiving numerous gold and platinum albums for her nine albums.
Taking over a lead role in the musical ”Tommy“ for a year in 1996, Kim Wilde got to know actor Hal Fowler. They married that same year. Her desire to settle down, however, proved something of an illusion. While pregnant with her son Harry Tristan (born 1998), she decided – especially with her children in mind (daughter Rose Elizabeth was born in 2000) – to pursue a long-standing interest more intensively: gardening. Kim attended courses in horticulture and garden design at the prestigious Capel Manor college and was discovered by television scouts. But it wasn’t just with TV shows such as ”Better Gardens“ and Garden Invaders” that she was destined to create waves in her homeland – she also turned author. In spring 2005 her first book, “Gardening with Children”, was published, based on her own experiences. A second work, “The First-Time Gardener”, was released recently. Last year she even won a gold medal at London’s famous Chelsea Flower Show with her “Cumbrian Fellside Garden”, designed together with garden designer Richard Lucas. “Gardening is something which brings me intense satisfaction on a daily basis. It’s something I can share with my family. A fantastic change from music and just as fulfilling, creative, exciting and challenging – if not more so. After almost ten years dedicated solely to gardening, however, I have the feeling I have stored up new energy for pop music. I had thought that I’d given up music for ever, but it seems music’s not ready to give up on me.”
In homage to the beauty of nature, from which her two children benefit year in year out in the always spectacular Wilde garden, the album “Never Say Never” marks a decisive step to present the pop singer Kim Wilde in full bloom. Firmly anchored to the roots of her own past, Kim Wilde appears more mature, meaningful and together than ever. Ever ambitious, the nature lover is striding towards her golden years – as a reawakened pop goddess. And Kim Wilde is experienced enough to recognise the strength of both her new songs and the remakes: “This music was made to be played live. In the last few years I’ve acquired a huge amount of live experience and my voice is stronger than ever. It would be a crime not to go on tour with this album.” Kim Wilde fans can therefore do more than just go crazy about her stunning new studio album “Never Say Never” – on which classics and potential hits bloom peacefully side by side like flowers in a meadow – they can also look forward to a series of Kim Wilde concerts. England’s queen of pop is certainly giving her best during her jubilee year.