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Kim Wilde

The daughter of '50s British pop singer Marty Wilde, Kim Wilde had several hits during the '80s. Initially, her synth-driven pop fit in with the new wave movement, but as the decade progressed, it became clear that her strength was mainstream pop. She continued to record into the 21st century, scoring the occasional hit, either in the dance or adult contemporary field. In 1980, Wilde signed with producer Mickie Most's Rak Records, releasing her first single, "Kids in America," early in 1981. It climbed to number two on the British charts that spring, while her second single, "Chequered Love," made it into the Top Ten; her self-titled debut album performed as well as her singles. The following year, "Kids in America" became a Top 40 hit in America, while Select kept her in the British charts. However, it wasn't until late 1986 that she had another U.S. hit with a dance cover of the Supremes' "You Keep Me Hangin' On," which charted in the Top Ten on both sides of the Atlantic. In the intervening years, and for the rest of the decade, Wilde maintained a strong European chart presence, proving her longevity in the Austrian, German, Belgian and Swiss markets. Wilde didn't have another hit in America but received a lot of radio play there in the summer of 1987 for "Another Step (Closer to You)," a duet with Junior Giscombe. Later that year, another duet, this time with the comedian Mel Smith on a charity rendition of the Brenda Lee hit "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree," reached number three in her home country, where it became a perennial seasonal record. Her 1988 album, Close, brought Wilde a further Top Ten singles across Europe, including "You Came," "Never Trust a Stranger," and "Four Letter Word." Her European tour in support of the record included dates opening for Michael Jackson on his Bad World Tour. Wilde's commercial highlight of the '90s was a 1993 cover of the Bee Gees disco track "If I Can't Have You," which charted high in no fewer than eight countries. It appeared on her first proper compilation, The Singles Collection 1981-1993, and naturally, she embarked on a far-reaching "greatest-hits" tour the following year, taking in most of Europe as well as dates in Japan and Australia. Wilde's 1995 set, Now & Forever, failed to take off and became her last studio album for 11 years. She closed the decade as part of a West End production of the Who's Tommy and married her co-star Hal Fowler. Early in the new century, Wilde took part in the plentiful '80s revival tours alongside regrouped line-ups of the Human League and Five Star. A 2003 collaboration with Nena on a bilingual version of the German artist's 1984 hit "Anyplace, Anywhere, Anytime" went to number one in both Austria and the Netherlands, and hit the Top Ten in numerous other countries, without seeing release in the U.K. Similarly, her 2006 comeback of sorts -- fueled by the EMI album Never Say Never -- took hold in each of the central European countries that had previously shown faith in Wilde, but it barely registered in the U.K. In fact, after 2010's Come Out and Play, 2011's Snapshots and 2013's Wilde Winter Songbook provided diminishing returns across Europe. It was a surprise when the quirky concept album Here Come the Aliens rekindled her career once more, hitting the Top 30 in the U.K. By 2021, Wilde was celebrating her 40th year as a performing artist with a lavish multi-format career retrospective titled Pop Don't Stop: Greatest Hits.
© Stephen Thomas Erlewine & James Wilkinson /TiVo


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