What song do you think of when you hear the name Kim Wilde? For me and prolly everyone I know, it won’t be her cover of The Supremes’ “You Keep Me Hangin’ On,” the big No. 1 hit that made her a household name in the U.S. in 1987.
No, for most of us, it’ll always be “Kids In America.” I can hear the opening chords on the WASP synthesizer now…
“Kids In America” was the debut single for British newcomer and New Waver Kim Wilde, originally released in her U.K. homeland in January 1981. Written by her brother Ricky and her 50s/60s U.K Rock ’n’ Roll star dad, Marty Wilde, “Kids In America” was an instant success, reaching No. 1 in Finland and South Africa, and the Top 10 in at least 12 other countries, including a U.K. peak of No. 2.
It took awhile, though, for “Kids In America” to actually make it to America. It debuted on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 in late May 1982, and worked its way to No. 25 in August of that year and parked itself there for a month. Despite stopping at No. 25, it’s nearly five months on the Hot 100 was enough to make it one of the 100 biggest American singles of 1982. It was also a hit on BILLBOARD’s Rock chart.
Besides “Kids In America” and “You Keep Me Hangin’ On,” Kim Wilde wasn’t a fixture on the American Top 40, but had much success in the U.K. and abroad. Between 1981 and 2006, she’s had 20 Top 40 hits in the U.K., and still holds the record for being the most-charted British solo act of the 1980s (with 17 Top 40 hits).
My chart nerdiness aside, I can remember the first time I heard “Kids In America” on my go-to radio station out of Bath, Maine, WIGY-FM. If I could find a WIGY bumper sticker, I’d post a picture of it here in a hot second. Loved that station! Maybe somewhere in the bowels of my parents’ hayloft I can find the square Rolling Stones mirror I used to own, situated in a wood frame. This is the type of memorabilia they used to sell in stores like Kmart in the early 80s. You know, Rock bands with their logos in things like mirrors – AC/DC, Aerosmith, Boston, that sort of thing. I used to have that Stones mirror in 1982, with the letters of the WIGY logo from the bumper sticker cut out and placed on the mirror to the left of the Rolling Stones tongue. Funny (and not) how I can remember that but I can’t remember what I did a couple of days ago.
Sorry, I somehow went from my chart nerdiness to the nerdiness of my 15-year-old self. But, you know, for three-and-a-half minutes in 1982, Kim Wilde’s “Kids In America” didn’t make me feel nerdy at all. In fact, I think it’s one of the best songs to come out of the decade. It’s certainly aged well. And, regardless of age, it’s good to know we ARE the kids in America, and we DO live for the music-go-round. At least I do…