After years of singer/songwriter musings, several albums and hit singles for Elektra Records, Carly Simon changed paths in the early ’80s, signing to Warner Brothers Records. Her first album for the label, Come Upstairs had a faintly New Wave tinge, as Simon flirted with power pop, scoring an old-school Carly hit in the process with the sublime low self-esteem anthem “Jesse”. She then worked with Chic on an intriguing single for the Soup For One soundtrack called “Why” that hit big overseas and in dance clubs Stateside. But following that with an album of standards (Torch) and the stylistic retreat of Hello Big Man didn’t help her saleswise, so by 1985, Carly was shopping around for a new label.
Signing with Epic, Simon released Spoiled Girl, a jarring artistic shift, one of those musical face lifts that had the potential to end up less Jane Seymour and more Jocelyn Wildenstein. Epic wanted Simon to compete with the Madonnas of the pop world, so they surrounded her with synths, drum machines and producers…eight of them, including New Wave/Electro pioneer Arthur Baker, no less. Baker remixed the album’s first single, the unintentionally campy “Tired Of Being Blonde”, a strange yet catchy anthem over-produced to the point of a Linn Drum spilling out of the speakers. “Blonde” came in a nice, chart-ready package, complete with the standard “what the hell?” video as was de rigeur for 1985 (directed by Jeremy Irons, no less):
So, um…the protagonist escapes from her rich, controlling lover by jumping on board a spaceship? Huh, wha?”Tired Of Being Blonde” did little more than perplex people, stuttering in the lower reaches of the charts. Epic didn’t give up, and issued the slightly more Carly “My New Boyfriend” as a second single. A fun song, “My New Boyfriend” combined the New Wave elements with a more traditional Carly Simon sound much more successfully, but even with yet another bewildering video featuring Carly as a white jungle goddess hopping around a campfire (…really?), chart action was not meant to be:
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Spoiled Girl isn’t a bad album at all, really, just a bit dated and misguided. There are flashes of brilliance, particularly on “The Wives Are In Connecticut”, probably the most “traditional” Carly Simon song on the set. Tellingly, it’s also the song from the album most likely to show up on the countless Simon compilations since. Two years and yet another new label later, Simon regained her Adult Contemporary/Pop throne with Coming Around Again, her biggest album since 1978’s Boys In The Trees, effectively shutting the door on her New Wave experimentation for good.
“Tired Of Being Blonde” peaked at #70 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart in 1985.
“My New Boyfriend” did not chart.
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