Lost in the ’80s: Kim Wilde, “Select”

lit80s

I have a soft spot in my heart for Ms. Wilde. After all, she was the very first artist to be featured on Lost in the ’80s back in … what was it — more than four years ago? Yikes. I maintain that “Kids in America” is one of the top-five new-wave songs of all time, and while Kim never really reached the heights of her 1981 self-titled debut again (artistically, at least — she did top the charts here in the U.S. in ’87 with the limp Stock/Aiken/Waterman-lite remake of the Supremes’ “You Keep Me Hangin’ On”), it wasn’t for lack of trying.

Kim’s second album, Select (1982), was pretty much in the same vein as her debut, with her brother Ricky and father, Marty, handling all of the songwriting and production (both had had brief success as singers in the UK in earlier decades). In the liner notes for the album’s recent rerelease (thank you once again, Cherry Pop Records!), Ricky recalls being inspired enough by Ultravox’s success to move away from the more guitar-oriented sound of Kim’s debut to the colder, programmable-synth soundscapes of Select.

The Ultravox influence was readily apparent on Select‘s first single, “Cambodia” (download), a downbeat, atmospheric song about an air force pilot who goes missing during a top-secret mission. Not exactly the stuff number-one singles are made of, but it topped the charts in several European countries, including France and Sweden. And my my, a lot of Kim’s videos tended to feature her rolling around in bed, fully clothed …

Things got even more depressing on the album’s follow-up single, “View From a Bridge” (download), with its lyric about a young girl’s suicide. While it was another big European smash, it failed to do anything for Wilde stateside, as the kids in America weren’t quite ready to take the leap, as it were.

While I don’t think it would have fared any better as a single here, I do quite love Select‘s opener, “Ego” (download), which really piles on the drum machines and Ultravox-y sequencers. Also, the fun chorus and kiss-off lyric might have connected better with U.S. ears than “Cambodia” and “View From a Bridge” had Select not died a quick death in the States, as did the first phase of Kim’s career on this side of the pond — EMI America dropped her after Select.

Her third album, Catch as Catch Can (1983), wasn’t even released here, and it took a new deal with MCA and that Supremes remake to finally really break Kim in America. Was it as substantial as her early work? That’s debatable, but it was fun nonetheless. Cherry Pop has rereleased Wilde’s first three albums in expanded editions with plenty of B-sides and bonuses, and all three are worth the import prices.

Neither single charted.

Get Kim Wilde music at Amazon or on Kim Wilde




  • magø

    Excellent post!
    I've often contemplated starting a blog JUST to write about Kim Wilde's first four albums!

    I always felt “Select” was a sorely overlooked album, but part of that is due to the fact that, to the best of my knowledge, it was never released in the US! Now, I could be wrong here, but I'm fairly sure it was only ever available as an import. I believe that EMI America, not sensing another hit in the “Kids In America” vein, passed on the domestic rights, and it never surfaced.
    As a kid, I only ever remember seeing it as an overpriced import…
    I do think that “Ego” or particularly, “Words Fell Down”, would have made great US singles…

    I think it was finally in 1984, with her new MCA contract and the LP “Teases And Dares”, that Miss Wilde finally got her records back on US shelves – and I think “Teases And Dares” is also a lost gem of an album… but that's blog-fodder for later!

  • JohnHughes

    I was going by Allmusic.com's review of “Catch as Catch Can” which says she was dumped by EMI in the US after “Select,” but you may be right … discogs.com shows no US version of “Select!”

    Anyone have an EMI America label on their copy of “Select” out there?

  • http://www.popdose.com Ted

    I had a huge crush on Kim Wilde in high school (circa 1983) after seeing her preform “View from a Bridge” on Top of the Pops. And I bought every album she released until Another Step came out in '87 — which really sucked.

    I have to say that I never found “View from a Bridge” depressing because, well, I didn't really pay attention to the verses of the song.

  • Todd

    My memory goes along with Mage's. I had to buy the import to hear Select, which I did.

  • Eric12345

    my favorite songs that were Not singles from RAK were “Falling out” “Chaos in the Airport” and melodramatic “Can you hear it” “Sing it out for Love again” her voice sounds heavenly especialy on Remastered Cd's by Cherry Pop.
    By the way Kim Wilde had a huge success after 87 #1 hit in USA, in 1988 Kim's manager recieved a phone call from Michael Jackson “Is Kim available to be the opening act for MJ BAD Tour?” so Kim start touring with Michael Jackson King of Pop and her album was released “Close” was her best selling album sold 2.5million around the world and had 4 Top 20 hits. “You Came” 88 was one of the biggest hits in her career.
    My personal favorite of all time is “You Keep me hangin on” something about that record, her voice sounds like coming with the wing, the energy is unbelievable -til today you hear that song on the radio and you can say “Wow thats a fantastic song, and she delivers beautifuly”.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fUxcGP1XC5M&feat

  • Pete

    John, I'd be curious to know what your other top 5 new wave songs are….

  • Pingback: Lost in the ’80s: The Top 15 New Wave Songs – Ever! | Popdose

  • ccsuperchris

    Hi John,

    Great post as usual!

    I never really loved Kim's stuff pre-“Another Step”…maybe the content was a little too serious for me at that age. My absolute favourite is “Say You Really Want Me” but to this day, I still do not understand why that song is missing from all the numerous Kim Wilde compilations. Considering that the video was banned and it charted on the US charts (and was featured in the film “Running Scared”, per Wikipedia). The video features hot shirtless men and Kim again writhing on a bed, fully clothed…so why has it become a forgotten classic? For heaven's sake, the video alone is nearly 8.5 minutes long! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2LbpLRZwWtE&feat

  • ccsuperchris

    Hi John,

    Great post as usual!

    I never really loved Kim's stuff pre-“Another Step”…maybe the content was a little too serious for me at that age. My absolute favourite is “Say You Really Want Me” but to this day, I still do not understand why that song is missing from all the numerous Kim Wilde compilations. Considering that the video was banned and it charted on the US charts (and was featured in the film “Running Scared”, per Wikipedia). The video features hot shirtless men and Kim again writhing on a bed, fully clothed…so why has it become a forgotten classic? For heaven's sake, the video alone is nearly 8.5 minutes long! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2LbpLRZwWtE&feat

  • ccsuperchris

    Hi John,

    Great post as usual!

    I never really loved Kim's stuff pre-“Another Step”…maybe the content was a little too serious for me at that age. My absolute favourite is “Say You Really Want Me” but to this day, I still do not understand why that song is missing from all the numerous Kim Wilde compilations, considering that the video was banned and it charted on the US charts (and was featured in the film “Running Scared”, per Wikipedia). The video features hot shirtless men and Kim again writhing on a bed, fully clothed…so why has it become a forgotten classic? For heaven's sake, the video alone is nearly 8.5 minutes long! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2LbpLRZwWtE&feat

  • ccsuperchris

    Hi John,

    Great post as usual!

    I never really loved Kim's stuff pre-“Another Step”…maybe the content was a little too serious for me at that age. My absolute favourite is “Say You Really Want Me” but to this day, I still do not understand why that song is missing from all the numerous Kim Wilde compilations. Considering that the video was banned and it charted on the US charts (and was featured in the film “Running Scared”, per Wikipedia). The video features hot shirtless men and Kim again writhing on a bed, fully clothed…so why has it become a forgotten classic? For heaven's sake, the video alone is nearly 8.5 minutes long! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2LbpLRZwWtE&feat

  • ccsuperchris

    Hi John,

    Great post as usual!

    I never really loved Kim's stuff pre-“Another Step”…maybe the content was a little too serious for me at that age. My absolute favourite is “Say You Really Want Me” but to this day, I still do not understand why that song is missing from all the numerous Kim Wilde compilations. Considering that the video was banned and it charted on the US charts (and was featured in the film “Running Scared”, per Wikipedia). The video features hot shirtless men and Kim again writhing on a bed, fully clothed…so why has it become a forgotten classic? For heaven's sake, the video alone is nearly 8.5 minutes long! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2LbpLRZwWtE&feat

  • ccsuperchris

    Hi John,

    Great post as usual!

    I never really loved Kim's stuff pre-“Another Step”…maybe the content was a little too serious for me at that age. My absolute favourite is “Say You Really Want Me” but to this day, I still do not understand why that song is missing from all the numerous Kim Wilde compilations, considering that the video was banned and it charted on the US charts (and was featured in the film “Running Scared”, per Wikipedia). The video features hot shirtless men and Kim again writhing on a bed, fully clothed…so why has it become a forgotten classic? For heaven's sake, the video alone is nearly 8.5 minutes long! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2LbpLRZwWtE&feat

  • ccsuperchris

    Hi John,

    Great post as usual!

    I never really loved Kim's stuff pre-“Another Step”…maybe the content was a little too serious for me at that age. My absolute favourite is “Say You Really Want Me” but to this day, I still do not understand why that song is missing from all the numerous Kim Wilde compilations. Considering that the video was banned and it charted on the US charts (and was featured in the film “Running Scared”, per Wikipedia). The video features hot shirtless men and Kim again writhing on a bed, fully clothed…so why has it become a forgotten classic? For heaven's sake, the video alone is nearly 8.5 minutes long! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2LbpLRZwWtE&feat

  • ccsuperchris

    Hi John,

    Great post as usual!

    I never really loved Kim's stuff pre-“Another Step”…maybe the content was a little too serious for me at that age. My absolute favourite is “Say You Really Want Me” but to this day, I still do not understand why that song is missing from all the numerous Kim Wilde compilations. Considering that the video was banned and it charted on the US charts (and was featured in the film “Running Scared”, per Wikipedia). The video features hot shirtless men and Kim again writhing on a bed, fully clothed…so why has it become a forgotten classic? For heaven's sake, the video alone is nearly 8.5 minutes long! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2LbpLRZwWtE&feat

  • ccsuperchris

    Hi John,

    Great post as usual!

    I never really loved Kim's stuff pre-“Another Step”…maybe the content was a little too serious for me at that age. My absolute favourite is “Say You Really Want Me” but to this day, I still do not understand why that song is missing from all the numerous Kim Wilde compilations, considering that the video was banned and it charted on the US charts (and was featured in the film “Running Scared”, per Wikipedia). The video features hot shirtless men and Kim again writhing on a bed, fully clothed…so why has it become a forgotten classic? For heaven's sake, the video alone is nearly 8.5 minutes long! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2LbpLRZwWtE&feat

  • Stephen Dixon

    Early 80’s Wilde had a pretense of artistry which allowed her to indulge in interesting power pop gems like Chaos At The Airport. Back when Last.FM had the on-demand option, I received a message that I had listened to that track too many times and it was no longer available. Back to Kim! Her late 80’s output was all about moving units so it’s nice to see her earlier work getting some credit. She kind of followed the same career trajectory as Bananarama with innovative material followed by (admittedly sometimes fun) a cash grab. To the poster below, “Say You Really Want Me” was really her nadir!