Kim Wilde – A Miracle’s Coming
When we last checked in with Kim Wilde she was teetering perilously close to the edge of the dumper – 1990’s Love Moves having yielded several singles (one of which was the ace It’s Here) and precisely no top 40 hits – something that had never happened before in her nine year pop career. I am of course speculating wildly, but I imagine this probably prompted a few crisis meetings at MCA in which mid-level executives tried to figure out a career rescue plan. As luck – or perhaps legend – would have it, at round about the same time the phone rang and the person on the other end of the line was exactly the one I had been suggesting any time anyone asked me my opinion on the subject, which admittedly wasn’t very often.
Now, it’s not that I particularly wanted Kim to turn into a clone of Belinda Carlisle – obviously I loved the trademark guitar ‘n’ synth sound that had served her so well – but I had a feeling jangly-Californian-freeway pop would suit her tremendously, and at this point in time no-one did that better than Rick Nowels. And goodness me it did – the first single Love is Holy (written by the Heaven is a Place on Earth dream team of Nowels and Ellen Shipley) was fantastic, with a brilliantly sultry spoken word intro and an irresistible, faintly hysterical chorus. It returned Kim to the UK top 20 for the first time since January 1989 and earned a fabulous appearance on Top of the Pops which Kim can barely get through without laughing (2:34) – another reason why she’s one of my favourite pop stars ever.
Love Is turned out to be my favourite Kim Wilde album of all time, and it is packed with potential hit singles. By the end of the day of its release I had a strategy all worked out, which I was convinced would keep Kim on Top of the Pops for the rest of the year. Sadly for me, not one bit of it came to pass. My choice for the second single – I thought it was a blindingly obvious one – was a Kim and Ricky Wilde co-write with Rick Nowels, A Miracle’s Coming.
I love how it starts with that big old twang – though I immediately imagine Kim’s stranded at a truck stop somewhere in East California and the miracle that’s coming is a chap from the Auto Club to get her on the move again. Those first seven seconds are quite dark and ominous and then of course it bursts into a classic jangle-fest and it’s all hugely exciting and barrels along at quite the pace, hurtling towards a pre-chorus that makes you hold your breath in anticipation of a gigantic, optimistic actual chorus. It doesn’t disappoint.
By the time the middle eight arrives you’re wondering how this song is going to top itself, but it does! It all goes a bit Hotel California for a few seconds and then there’s an epic key change, Kim’s right at the top of her register, she’s doing that fabulous slippy thing with her voice that she does so well, and by the end everyone deserves a nice lie down. I do love a pop song that makes you need a rest afterwards.
Meanwhile, over at MCA they picked Heart Over Mind as the second single (which I wasn’t fond of then but like far more now), and it only made no.34. So for the third release they retreated to more familiar, classic Kim territory with Who Do You Think You Are – a slightly odd sort of Never Trust a Stranger-ish effort with a peculiar glam rock thread running through it – I rather liked it, but I’d have enjoyed it even more in 1988, which is absolutely where it belongs. That one reached no.49 and brought the maddeningly short Love Is era to a close, meaning that the two killer ballads from the album – I Won’t Change the Way That I Feel and Try Again – never got the chance to do a Four Letter Word and claw their way into the top 10. Frustrating.
On balance, however, Love Is amounts to a win: it produced much of the best pop of Kim’s career, gave her her first proper hit of the 90s and ended the streak of album covers which obscured their maker’s face. For a while I was starting to think an impostor was being sneaked in.
Entered chart: was not released
Who could do a nice version of this that people might like but not necessarily buy? Who is doing jangle-pop these days? Nobody, that’s who.