Kids in America

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"Kids in America"
Kid in America.jpg
Artwork for European release
Single by Kim Wilde
from the album Kim Wilde
B-side "Tuning In, Tuning On"
Released 26 January 1981
Format 7" single, 12" single
Recorded 1980
Genre New wave[1], synth pop[2]
Length 3:27
Label RAK
Songwriter(s) Marty Wilde, Ricky Wilde
Producer(s) Ricky Wilde
Kim Wilde singles chronology
"Kids in America"
"Chequered Love"
"Kids in America"
"Chequered Love"
"Kids in America 1994"
Kids in America 1994.jpg
Single by Kim Wilde
Released 2 May 1994
Format 12", CD single
Length 3:53 (Cappella Mix)
Label MCA
Songwriter(s) Ricky Wilde, Marty Wilde
Producer(s) Ricky Wilde
Kim Wilde singles chronology
"In My Life"
"Kids in America 1994"
"Breakin' Away"
"In My Life"
"Kids in America 1994"
"Breakin' Away"

"Kids in America" is a song recorded by British singer Kim Wilde. It was released in the United Kingdom as her debut single in January 1981, and in the United States in spring 1982.[3] The song reached number two on the UK Singles Chart. It has been covered by many artists from different genres.

Background, composition and production[edit]

1980 version[edit]

RAK Records boss Mickie Most heard Wilde singing on a backing track to another song recorded by her brother Ricky Wilde, an aspiring young songwriter and producer who had had some fame as a child singer in the style of Donny Osmond in the early 1970s.[4]

Most liked Kim's voice and looks and expressed an interest to work with her. Eager to grab the opportunity, Ricky went home and wrote "Kids in America" that same day with his father Marty in the family's front room. Marty Wilde, also a former singer, had been a teen idol and actor in the UK in the late 1950s and early 1960s.[5]

They wrote the song using a WASP synthesizer owned by Ricky, and the song's eighth note synth basslines, which form its intro, was inspired by the songs of Gary Numan who was popular at the time. The melody in the song's opening lines was also heavily influenced by Numan, according to Ricky.[6]

They went into the studio with everything except the lyrics to the chorus, which Marty Wilde, who was responsible for writing the lyrics to the song, came up with in the last minute. The line "Whoah-oh!" that's sung after the song's title was originally meant to be a guitar lick or a brass stab, but sounded much better sung by the male backing vocals, according to Marty.[7]

After hearing the track for the first time, Most declared it was a smash hit, but it needed remixing, which he did together with Marty at RAK Studios in 1980. The song was then released as Kim Wilde's first single in January 1981.[8]

1994 version[edit]

"Kids in America 1994" was released in May 1994 in order to help promote Wilde's compilation album The Remix Collection. Although it was intended to be released in the UK, for reasons unknown these plans were cancelled at the last minute. However, the track was released in other countries in several remixed forms using Wilde's original vocals from 1981. The "radio version" of the track was remixed by Cappella, with James Stevenson on guitar.[citation needed]

2006 version[edit]

Among some of her other classic hits, Wilde recorded a new version of the song for her 2006 comeback album Never Say Never, featuring English singer Charlotte Hatherley. This version, like the rest of the album, was produced by German producer Uwe Fahrenkrog-Petersen, with whom she had previously worked in 2002 for German singer Nena's 20th anniversary album Nena feat. Nena on the track "Anyplace, Anywhere, Anytime", a new version of her 1984 hit single. Wilde contributed English verses to the song, which was slightly remixed and released as a single in 2003.[citation needed]


"Kids in America" sold so well in its first week, foul play was suspected and it wasn't included in that week's chart. In its first eight weeks of release, the single sold more than half a million copies in the UK alone.[9]

The song peaked at number 2 in the UK in 1981. The following year it reached the top 30 on the Billboard Hot 100 hit in the United States and ranked as the 91st most successful song of 1982 on the Hot 100 year-end chart. In the summer of 1981, the track appeared on Wilde's self-titled debut album.

"Kids in America" was the song that signalled the start of Wilde's career. Her father and brother continued to write songs for her (with the latter also given production credits), although in later years Kim Wilde would chiefly co-write with her brother.

Track listing[edit]

  1. Kids in America (3:26)
  2. Tuning In Tuning On (4:30)
7" US/Canada single
  1. Kids In America (3:26)
  2. You'll Never Be So Wrong (4:11)


Chart (1981–82) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[10] 5
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[11] 12
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[12] 4
Belgium (VRT Top 30 Flanders)[13] 4
Canada (RPM 50 Singles)[14] 34
Finland (Suomen virallinen lista)[15] 1
Germany (Official German Charts)[16] 5
Ireland (IRMA)[17] 2
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[18] 6
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[19] 8
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[20] 5
Norway (VG-lista)[21] 9
South Africa (Springbok Radio)[22] 1
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[23] 2
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[24] 5
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[25] 2
US Billboard Hot 100[26] 25
US Mainstream Rock (Billboard)[27] 29


In 1995, The Muffs' cover of "Kids In America" was featured on the soundtrack for the 1995 film Clueless, which eventually won an RIAA award for Platinum-level sales. It was later reissued on the Muffs' 2000 album Hamburger. The version is also used in Rock Band 2.

A version of the song by Alexa Brevig was used in a 2010 commercial for Totino's pizza and pizza rolls.

Lawnmower Deth covered the song as their only 1991 single.

Bloodhound Gang covered the song for their first album Use Your Fingers (1995).

Len covered the song for the 2000 film Digimon: The Movie; it was also released as a single.

No Secrets covered the song for the 2001 film Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius in the scene where Jimmy Neutron and the children blast off into outer space to rescue their parents from the evil aliens, after they created a fleet of battleships; it was released as a single and later appeared on their 2002 debut album No Secrets.

In the 2002 video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, the song is featured in the fictional radio station Wave 103.

Dave Grohl from the American rock band Foo Fighters covered the song in 1991 and it was eventually released on the band's EP Songs from the Laundry Room on Record Store Day in 2015.

Cascada covered the song for their 2006 debut album Everytime We Touch.

The Jonas Brothers also made a cover version, but it was retitled as "Kids of the Future" and was used in promotion, changing the lyrics as well to be stylized to be used in conjunction with the 2007 film Meet the Robinsons.

Alvin and the Chipmunks covered the song as a playable level in the 2007 video game Alvin and the Chipmunks.

The Donnas had their cover version as part of the soundtrack to the 2007 film Nancy Drew.

In the television series Riverdale, Archie Andrews and Veronica Lodge (played by KJ Apa and Camila Mendes) covered the song in the episode "Chapter Eleven: To Riverdale and Back Again".

MxPx covered it on their second covers album On the Cover II.

Electric Six included a version on their 2017 cover album You're Welcome!


  1. ^ Jonathan Williams. "Terminus City/No Holds Barred". Prick Magazine. Archived from the original on 18 November 2004. Retrieved 23 July 2013.  "Terminus even does a punked out cover of the Kim Wilde new wave hit "Kids In America" bringing a whole new meaning to the song."
  2. ^
  3. ^ David Mansour (2005). From Abba to Zoom: A Pop Culture Encyclopedia of the Late 20th Century. Andrews McMeel Publishing. p. 264. ISBN 978-0740751189. 
  4. ^ Hitlåtens historia: Kids in America. SVT. Aired in 2011.
  5. ^ Hitlåtens historia: Kids in America. SVT. Aired in 2011.
  6. ^ Hitlåtens historia: Kids in America. SVT. Aired in 2011.
  7. ^ Hitlåtens historia: Kids in America. SVT. Aired in 2011.
  8. ^ Hitlåtens historia: Kids in America. SVT. Aired in 2011.
  9. ^ Hitlåtens historia: Kids in America. SVT. Aired in 2011.
  10. ^ Danyel Smith, ed. (1981). "Billboard 4 july 1981". Nielsen Business Media, Inc. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved 19 June 2013. 
  11. ^ " – Kim Wilde – Kids in America" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved 23 July 2013.
  12. ^ " – Kim Wilde – Kids in America" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved 23 July 2013.
  13. ^ "Kids In America - KIM WILDE". VRT (in Dutch). Archived from the original on 9 April 2012. Retrieved 26 July 2013.  Hoogste notering in de top 30 : 4
  14. ^ "Top Singles - Volume 36, No. 23, July 17, 1982". Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 23 July 2013. 
  15. ^ Nyman, Jake (2005). Suomi soi 4: Suuri suomalainen listakirja (in Finnish) (1st ed.). Helsinki: Tammi. ISBN 951-31-2503-3. 
  16. ^ " – Kim Wilde – Kids in America". GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 23 July 2013.
  17. ^ "The Irish Charts - All there is to know". IRMA. Retrieved 15 June 2013.  Only one result when searching "Kids in America"
  18. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Kim Wilde - Kids in America" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40. Retrieved 23 July 2013.
  19. ^ " – Kim Wilde – Kids in America" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved 23 July 2013.
  20. ^ " – Kim Wilde – Kids in America". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved 23 July 2013.
  21. ^ " – Kim Wilde – Kids in America". VG-lista. Retrieved 23 July 2013.
  22. ^ "South African Rock Lists Website SA Charts 1969 - 1989 Acts (W)". John Samson. Retrieved 23 July 2013. 
  23. ^ " – Kim Wilde – Kids in America". Singles Top 100. Retrieved 23 July 2013.
  24. ^ " – Kim Wilde – Kids in America". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved 23 July 2013.
  25. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 23 July 2013.
  26. ^ "Kim Wilde Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved July 2, 2017.
  27. ^ "Kim Wilde Chart History (Mainstream Rock)". Billboard. Retrieved July 2, 2017.

External links[edit]