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  • Writer's pictureMark Howitt

Songs in the Key of My Life: 5



Hey Mister Heartache, Kim Wilde (1988)


Don’t judge me.


My guess would be that I started listening to Ken Bruce’s morning show on Radio 2, about three or four years ago when I was “resting” between jobs. And, to be fair - although you’re probably thinking, why should I be fair, even to myself, even or especially, for a confession as sordid as this - I was never the sort of listener who tuned in solidly from 9:30 - 12:30.


Anyway, along with 3.7 million others, I now listen to bits of Ken Bruce’s morning show on Greatest Hits Radio (“the good times sound like this” ie exactly same every day). As well as - obviously - PopMaster, one of Bruce’s regular daily features is Golden Years, where he phones people, asks for their three favourite records from a particular year and gets them to talk about why the music means so much to them. Presumably he doesn’t contact them out of the blue, there might be privacy issues, I think you need to pre-register. But I do wonder.


A few weeks back, Bruce phones up this bloke who says that the year that means so much to him is 1988 and the first song that holds memories for him is Hey Mister Heartache by Kim Wilde and it’s fucking awful. The last few words are mine, although it would have been brilliant if he had said that live on air.


Kim Wilde is an enormously successful singer, prolific during the 1980s with hits such as Kids in America, Chequered Love, Cambodia, still recording, still touring. Hey Mister Heartache was the lead single from her sixth album Close, a big hit in Norway but nowhere else. It plods along aimlessly, it’s not that great. The weird thing is, on the same album, there is an absolute beauty of a song, the Human League lite, You Came. (I remember buying the 12” single remixed by Madonna and Pet Shop Boys collaborator Shep Pettibone.) But no, the bloke on Ken Bruce’s show was so taken with Hey Mister Heartache, that he got his Mum to drive him into town to buy it as soon as he heard it on the radio back in May 1988.


It takes all sorts. Just don’t get me started on his second choice.


Hey Mr Heartache how much can you fake

How many hearts break before you get enough

Hey Mr Heartache you don't give you just take

I hope for your sake you don't turn your back on love

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