The songs on Spoiled Girl represent romance as a kind of contest; with moments of victory and passion, to be sure, but also moments of defeat, desperation and occasional bitchiness. Note the wonderful throwaway line in the otherwise upbeat "My New Boyfriend": he loves me more than you ever did. Thus, the attention-grabbing drama of her pose on the cover is just right. We are invited to wonder if she is coming or going, inviting our attention or rebuffing us, breaking down or showing off. The songs suggest that the answer may be "all of the above". Spoiled Girl reveals higher highs and lower lows than her earlier work. In the climax of "Anyone But Me", when she sings I wish you had never loved anyone but me, she growls never in a manner that reveals a raw and mercurial emotional state. For better or for worse, depending on the taste of the listener, we are several steps beyond the calmly delivered insights about jealousy heard in "We Have No Secrets".
Yet her new label, Epic Records, decided that the first single would be the one song that she did not write herself. It was an odd choice: "Tired of Being Blonde" is the album's least tuneful song, and its third-person narration (She left her credit cards under her goodbye note...) is detached and uninvolving. A wildly overcooked video for the song, with the well meaning but wholly inexperienced Jeremy Irons behind the camera, only added to the sense of detachment. In its four minute running time, a storyline overflowing with mini-vignettes and visual gimmickry unfolds as Carly dons every imaginable blonde wig. The video for the second single, "My New Boyfriend", was only slightly more restrained. It cast her as Cleopatra on the Nile, Sheena the Jungle Princess dancing with the natives, and a space-age beauty in love with a robot. Needless to say, these were all parts she played with gusto, but what seems to have been lost amidst these bids for airtime on MTV is that Carly's fans like and admire her: as a musical confidante and as a known and consistent personality. The idea of dressing her up in videos as a chameleon akin to Annie Lennox was therefore misguided, and so too was the advertising that insisted she herself was the spoiled girl (see, for example, the advertisement below). She made the point in interviews that the song "Spoiled Girl" most definitely was not about her. She had taken enough flak, as a rock star who was also the daughter of a prominent and wealthy family, and she had no interest in adding fuel to that fire. The record-buying, radio-listening, MTV-watching public was understandably confused, and they decided to steer clear of Spoiled Girl. The singles stalled and the album was her least popular to date.