Mel & Kim

Mel and Kim were a British pop duo, consisting of sisters Melanie and Kim Appleby. Originally managed by Alan Whitehead, they achieved success between 1986 and 1988, before Melanie, who had been diagnosed with cancer, died in January 1990 at the age of 23.

The duo reached number one in the UK Singles Chart with their 1987 single “Respectable”, which also topped the US dance chart. They had three other UK Top 10 hits with “Showing Out (Get Fresh at the Weekend)” (1986), “F.L.M.” (1987) and “That’s the Way It Is” (1988).

In 1988, they were nominated for a Brit Award for Best British Breakthrough Act. After Mel’s death, Kim embarked on a solo career and had two UK Top 10 hits with “Don’t Worry” (1990) and “G.L.A.D.” (1991).

Mel & Kim were born to British and Jamaican parents. In 1985, Mel recorded two demos solo, under Alan Whitehead’s management. Soon after, her sister Kim joined her and they performed as a duo, recording some demos. The demos got them signed with Supreme Records, and Nick East – president of Supreme – put them in touch with producers Stock Aitken Waterman.

“System” was intended as their first single, but they and the producers were unhappy with it, and it became the “B-side” of their first release “Showing Out (Get Fresh at the Weekend)”, which reached number three on the British charts in 1986. It was a minor hit in America peaking at #78, but did peak at #1 on the Dance Chart there. Their next single “Respectable” reached number one in Britain. They became well-known celebrities in Europe, particularly in Britain, and were known for their visual style which combined urban street wear with high fashion (prior to their music career Mel had worked as a glamour model). Their third single “F.L.M.” reached number seven in the UK, while their final single “That’s the Way It Is” reached number ten, giving them an unbroken run of top ten hits in the UK. In February 1988, they were nominated for Best British Breakthrough Act at the Brit Awards, losing out to Wet Wet Wet.

In December 1985, prior to the duo’s success, Mel was treated for malignant paraganglioma, a form of cancer, on her liver. By January 1987, Mel was experiencing back problems, delaying the filming of the “Respectable” music video. During a promotional visit to Japan in June 1987, the severity of Mel’s back problem became apparent. Upon returning to the UK, she was diagnosed with a recurrence of the cancer in her spine. The sisters withdrew from publicity while Mel underwent treatment, and footage from their Montreux Festival performance was used to compile the “F.L.M.” music video. While the media speculated that Mel was terminally ill, both sisters categorically denied this, stating that Mel had suffered a debilitating back injury.

Eventually, it was confirmed that Mel had been diagnosed with cancer, following the release of “That’s the Way it Is” in February 1988. Mel discharged herself from hospital to record the vocals for the track. Work on a second album was not continued, due to Mel’s illness. Both sisters appeared on the Wogan show in April 1988 while Mel was still undergoing treatment, as part of European Cancer Week. On 18 January 1990, Mel died suddenly of pneumonia after contracting a cold. The chemotherapy had significantly weakened her immune system.

In January 2018, the release of a previously-unreleased unfinished demo track, “Where Is Love”, was announced on the official Mel & Kim website. It is scheduled for a February 2018 release.

With the aid of her then boyfriend, ex-Bros bassist Craig Logan, Kim launched a solo career with much of her debut solo album composed of songs co-written with Mel, for what was intended to be the next “Mel and Kim” album. The album, Kim Appleby, contained her debut solo single “Don’t Worry”, which reached number two on the British charts in November 1990. A follow-up single “G.L.A.D” was also a UK Top 10 hit.

Subsequent singles from her debut album were “Mama” [#19] and “If You Cared” [#44]. Kim’s second album Breakaway was not a commercial success and had a limited release. She released three further singles, “Light of the World” [#41, 1993], “Breakaway” [#56, 1993], and “Free Spirit” [#51, 1994]. A download-only single called “High” was released in 2007.

In 2010 a 2 CD Deluxe Edition of F.L.M. was released which included extended Bonus tracks as well as the single That’s The Way It Is and various remixes of the original hits.

Compilation albums

  • Something Special (Scandinavia-only remix album) (1989)
  • The Best of Mel & Kim (1996)
  • That’s the Way It Is – The Best of Mel & Kim/Kim Appleby (2001)
  • F.L.M. – The Best of Mel & Kim/Kim Appleby (2002)
  • F.L.M. – Deluxe Edition 2 CD set (incl radio edits and extended mixes) (2010)