Top Ten Renditions of "Kids in America"

"Kids in America" is a song originally performed by British singer Kim Wilde in 1981 on her self titled debut album. The song was written by her father and brother Ricky and Marty Wilde. The song has since been covered by an outstandingly big amount of artists from all different kids of genres and nations, and also has been re-recorded by Kim Wilde herself.

My first encounter with Kim Wilde was already on the first album I owned (I had some CDs with music from kids' TV shows before but I don't count them), which is "Nena feat. Nena" by Nena. As you might know, Nena is one of the biggest and most successful stars in Germany, and on this album from 2002 she recorded completely re-worked versions of her biggest classics. One of them was a bilingual version of her 80s hit song "Irgendwie Irgendwo Irgendwann" called "Anyplace Anywhere Anytime", sung as a duet with - you guessed it - Kim Wilde.

Now, around that time I also got "Digimon - The Movie" on VHS. Retrospectively it is very weird that the German dub of the series is based on the original Japanese one, but they still dubbed this exclusively American mix of short movies, which is entirely different in tone (not as dark, not as melancholic, more humorous and action packed), but back then I didn't question it. I watched it with my dad and as the credits rolled on, the LEN cover of "Kids in America" started playing, and my dad told me that the song was originally by "the woman who sings on Anyplace Anywhere Anytime", and I somehow fell in love with the song..Then I got Kim Wilde's best of album shortly later, and yeah, that's my history with the song. It was one of my first favorite songs when I was around 7 years old.
The Top Ten
1 Kids In America (1981 Version) - Kim Wilde

I am not one to have a biased opinion on cover versions, covers can expand an average song's quality to an unbelievable extent, but in this case, the original is the greatest recording. That's for two reasons: fistly, most of the covers didn't simply record a cover, they almost exactly copied it. The structure of it starting off with just a synth line and singing and no beat, the male "woo-oos" and "nananas", the major keyboard melody, even the short echoing in the second verse. Secondly, it still has the most energy of all. The others try to sing it as exact as possible, but Wilde flows on the new wave instrumental like a true rock'n'roller, with attitude and power.

2 Kids In America - LEN

Okay, I must admit that this hasn't aged well in the last 15 years. The voice has a spacy effect over it, the synth line is almost eurodance and the guitars and percussion are alternative rock 90s style. But hey, there's no greater power than the power of nostalgia, they say.

3 Kids In America - Kim-Lian

This cover is what comes closest to the rock energy Kim Wilde had. Even though I knew this version before, I have not heard of this singer otherwise, and apparently she had only released two albums several years ago. But I might check them out, because this is pop punk with a cool strong female attitude and some of the coolest, trashiest synthesizers I have ever heard playing this melody.

4 Kids In America - Bloodhound Gang

I may be the only one on this site who is something of a fan of The Bloodhound Gang, because I just found out they were much bigger in Germany than in their home country and I know this site doesn't like vulgar immature humor as much as I do, but even I am surprised by this cover. There is so stupid humor, no cheap techno beat, and it seems that it's not even Jimmy Pop who's singing - what we get a really cool punk cover. In fact, it sounds more like the more recent Die Toten Hosen than the Bloodhound Gang.

5 Kids In America (1999 Version) - Sex Appeal

When having left E-Rotic, lead singer Lyane Leigh founded S.E.X. Appeal. Their first album, "Peeping Tom" was a very mixed bag. They wanted to continue the novelty sex songs of E-Rotic but with a bubblegum dance sound like Aqua, but sounded not nearly as fun as most eurodance/bubblegum dance bands do. It sounds not as much silly and goofy as it sounds awkward - and Leigh's voice has too much timbre to be as playful as Aqua. What has been done very well is this breakbeat cover of "Kids in America", on here, Leigh's voice fits perfectly.

6 Kids In America - Beautiful Boy

Unlike the other versions I included on this list, I did not know this one before specifically searching for covers for this list, to make sure I don't miss a good one. Apparently, this band had only recorded four songs at all, but this beautiful, dreamy ballad version really makes me wonder why. I see a lot of potential in there, and it again shows that you can turn almost every song into a graceful ballad.

7 Kids In America (2006 Version) - Kim Wilde & Charlotte Hatherley

Remember what I have written about this awesome Nena album with all the exciting new versions of her classics that are sometimes even much better? It had a duet with Kim Wilde on it. Now on her 2006 album "Never Say Never", Wilde recorded five new versions of her old classics - even produced by the same producer as the Nena album and even with Nena as a guest star on one song. Now, her new version of "Kids in America" is not as radically different as Nena's re-interpretations, but it is a really good version. It has the exact same energy and flow the original had, plus a more modern outfit.

8 Kids in America - No Secrets

Oh yeah, I remember this version being played in the "Jimmy Neutron" movie. It's been more than ten years since I saw the movie... and actually all I can remember is that this song was in it. It has a cool beat somewhere between pop and breakbeat.

9 Kids In America - Cascada

I am still not sure what to think of Cascada. They were among the most commercially successful European techno groups in the mainstream (not in specific techni scenes, but your everyday pop listener knew them very well) in the 2000s, but I still think Groove Coverage, who never were big but have a similar style, were way more inventive. Even when they covered a song, they always had a certain atmosphere between the stomping kicks. Cascada was club music. But as that, they actually worked fine and you could listen to their techno covers even when not dancing. This here is a perfect example: it's not genius, but it's okay and dancable.

10 Kids In America (2007 Version) - Sex Appeal

8 years passed between S.E.X. Appeal's first and second album, and it's barely the same group anymore: gone is the novelty touch and goofy cartoonish sex, gone are the 90s eurodance beats. Now, the project around Lyane Leigh mixes techno with sensual, even a bit mystical and way more atmospheric melodies, lyrics and synth lines. They covered "Kids in America" a second time, this time with their new techno style - but it's not as oustanding as the 90s version which had breakbeat elements. On their "Sensuality" album, it feels more like a filler, and way more made for the dance floors than the other tracks on it, and while okay, it is not as poppy and stomping as Cascada's version.

The Contenders
11 Kids In America - The Muffs

Wow, the post grunge is strong in this one.

I must say I was extremely surprised when I found myself just absolutely loving the movie - especially because I found that the protagonist isn't the brat you think she is, she is actually very kind hearted in her own way. She tries her best to help and make people happy. Even though she is kind of superficial, she isn't in any way mean to people that don't fit the popularity standards. In fact, she tries to help them get popular. It's kind of sweet. Clumsy, yes, and not the best solution, but sweet.
For all the fun I had with his flick, I might as well add a song from the soundtrack. Even though it's really not my style.

12 Kids in America (D-Bop's Bright Lights Mix) - Kim Wilde

This typical 90s/early 2000s techno mix is a bonus track on my Best of compilation by her, and I know this version just as long as the original, but I have to say I don't like it as much anymore. Wilde's voice doesn't at all fit onto a stomping beat.

13 Verliebt in Veronika - Robert Haag

This German language version only takes the melody of "Kids in America", the song itself is about the singer being in love with a casheer called Veronika.

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