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Friday, February 18, 2005

Wilde Child

Welcome to Lost in the ‘80s. Here’s where you’ll find the other side of all the big hits you remember…the failed follow-ups to the one-hit wonders, the album tracks that got significant airplay in some parts of the country/world but ignored in others, and the songs MTV may have played to death but never translated into sales or chart action…songs that didn’t deserve to be forgotten…songs that got Lost in the ‘80s.

With the blog’s mission statement out of the way, I must admit a fair amount of hand-wringing went into picking what song with which to debut the new blog. The song had to represent all aspects of the mission statement in a big way. After stewing it over, I narrowed it down to two songs – two songs that represented completely different musical eras that belonged to the ‘80s, New Wave and Hi-NRG, two songs that were failed follow-ups to a major hit, yet didn’t deserve to be Lost in the ‘80s.

It was by chance that both songs happened to be by the same artist – Kim Wilde.


Long before Joseph Simpson creeped everyone out by pimping out his daughters Jessica and Ashlee, father Marty and brother Ricki brought Kim Wilde into the pop world, writing and masterminding her material, while Mom Wilde played manager. They hit paydirt right out of the gate, unleashing the imminently catchy “Kids in America,” which climbed the charts worldwide. “Kids in America” remains a classic pop song, one of my top ten picks for single of the ‘80s, still vital and energizing to today’s ears. Don’t believe me? Put it on in a club…any club…and watch the crowd react.

When it came time for a follow-up, the Wildes had plenty of hummable tunes to choose from, since Kim’s debut disc was packed with them. “Chequered Love” was the pick, a hyperkinetic, very much of its time new wave stomper, perfect for the 1982 airwaves. “Chequered Love” was a hit everywhere “Kids in America” hit, peaking in the mid-teens and top tens of pop charts worldwide…

…except for the kids in America.

In the U.S. “Chequered Love” stalled immediately upon release. A third attempt at a U.S. single, “Water on Glass” fared a little better, scraping the bottom of Billboard’s Mainstream Rock chart. But save for a campy, fun-to-look-at video which MTV played a few times, the hooked-filled “Chequered Love” got Lost in the ‘80s, and Kim Wilde became a one-hit wonder.

Two years later, after a few more worldwide hit singles, the Wildes and MCA, Kim’s new American label, tried to break the U.S. again, this time jettisoning Kim’s appealing new wave sound and image and replacing it with a sound that positively dripped with every sad excess that permeated Top 40 radio in 1984. “The Second Time” (renamed “Go For It” for its U.S. release, for reasons that are self-evident at first listen) was Big ‘80s all the way, from its Trevor Horn/Frankie Goes to Hollywood deep bass-popping sound, to the blasting synth horns, booming drums and bombastic background singers screaming along the chorus with Kim. And good golly, just exactly what did Kim want her man to do for a second time…? Let’s check the lyrics:

I’m never letting go - baby don’t expect me to
How can you stop when my whole world’s exploding
Look in the mirrors - and see the heat of something new
Why don’t we do it - just do it once again

There’s such an urgency in everything I need from you
Stop giving up - you know you can’t refuse me
I’ve every reason to believe there’s still a man in you
You done it once so come on go again

Just go for it
Just go for the second time

Oh, that. That’s all well and good, I suppose. Women need more time, foreplay, and WAITAMINUTE! Wasn’t this song written for her by her FATHER AND BROTHER?!?


It’s all so ridiculously over the top that you can’t help but smile and nod along while you turn it down before anyone else catches you listening to it. “The Second Time” peaked at number 29 on the U.K. charts.

Except for some club play, again, America ignored it.

Did these songs deserve to be Lost in the ‘80s? Both sound dated by today’s standards, but curiously enough, the new wave sound that MCA thought was dated by 1984, sounds more vital in 2005 than the “sound of today” that the label forced upon Kim with “The Second Time”. Both songs are well-crafted slices of pop, with strong, well-structured melodies and choruses, and they both follow my rules for a classic pop song – verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus and no longer than four minutes.

Oh, and don’t feel bad for Kim’s American chart career. In 1987, the Wildes jumped yet another pop train and hijacked the Stock/Aiken/Waterman sound to produce a remake of “You Keep Me Hangin’ On”. Of course, it was shlockey and familiar enough to U.S. ears to hit number one.

Download “Chequered Love” by Kim Wilde
Download “The Second Time” by Kim Wilde

”Kids in America” peaked at #25 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
“Chequered Love” did not chart.
“Water on Glass” peaked at #53 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart.
“The Second Time” did not chart.
“You Keep Me Hangin’ On” peaked at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

For more about Kim Wilde, visit
posted by John, 3:40 PM