Kim Wilde’s move from the independent imprint RAK Records to MCA represented a pop gambit. With her eponymous debut in 1981, Wilde secured herself a position in the new wave movement with its atomic hit “Kids in America.” However, it was the two following albums that made Wilde the lone female face in the British male-dominated New Romanticism realm: Select (RAK, 1982) and Catch as Catch Can (RAK, 1983), which were fine affairs, the perfect combination of rock and electronic pop.
Sadly, Catch as Catch Can caught a commercial cold spell and did not translate to the charts in her native England and Europe where she experienced the bulk of her success. Clearly realizing that a change in direction was needed, Wilde departed to MCA Records.
It was the year of Prince, the dawn of the 12” mix and rising dance-pop dolls when Wilde premiered her fourth LP, Teases & Dares (MCA), in the fall of 1984. Having lost her diminutive traction in America from three years earlier ― she’d regain an audience there with Another Step (MCA, 1986) ― Wilde kept her focus on the British and European markets.
Wilde’s first flirtation with dance music was heard on Catch as Catch Can’s forgotten single “Dancing in the Dark”― a post-disco dance sapphire. Her new entries into dance-pop, “The Touch” and “The Second Time,” were efficacious in inducing an edgy, glamorous feeling; both songs were also wisely earmarked as singles from the Teases & Dares record. However, it was the continuation of her icy esoteric abilities over new arrangements that really compelled. “Suburbs of Moscow” and “Blade Runner” (inspired by the 1982 dystopian film of the same name) were divine examples of Wilde’s concept-pop mixing well with synth pop.
Wilde’s own pen graced the Joni Mitchell-esque “Fit In,” the sensitive “Shangri-La” and the genteel closer “Thought It Was Goodbye.” Up to this point Wilde’s father, ‘50s British rock and roll icon Marty Wilde, and her brother Ricky Wilde had been writing and producing Kim’s output. With the mentioned trio of songs, Kim asserted herself creatively and continued to do so throughout the remainder of her career.
Teases & Dares’ biggest hit was the rockabilly “Rage to Love,” an inferior redo of Catch as Catch Can’s minor hit “Love Blonde.” Teases & Dares allowed Kim Wilde enough clout to record 1986’s Another Step that held the Supremes cover heard ‘round the world that year: “You Keep Me Hangin’ On.”
Wilde went on to become the most charted female vocalist in England for the whole of the 1980s. She continued to make music up until semi-retiring in 1996 to embark on a separate career (horticulture). Wilde returned to music in 2006 and is active still. With recordings such as the eclectic Teases & Dares, Wilde proved that Madonna wasn’t the only blonde with ambition in pop.
Watch Wilde perform “The Second Time” on Germany’s Musik Convoy in 1984.Powered by Sidelines