Oh hey! I’m Sam Lansky — music writer, Twitterlebrity, and occasional celebutante (those last two aren’t true) — and this is my column, Pop Think, dedicated to documenting the most valuable corners of the pop music universe. And in that universe, there’s one star who shines brightest of all for me: The inimitable Paris Hilton, celebrity socialite-turned-media mogul, whose self-titled debut album from 2006 remains on heavy rotation for me even after six years.
See, even though a lot of people directed shade at Paris when she announced her intentions to record a pop album, there’s no denying that she has star quality, which came through loud and clear on her first record, which hit the Top 10 on the Billboard 200. The occasional leak or promotional single continued to suggest that her musical output would be reliably flaw-free, even if it’s been a minute since she’s had an official release.
If anyone can deliver another killer pop album, it’s probably Paris, which is why I’m beyond excited about her upcoming musical project, including a new single featuring LMFAO and an album executive-produced by her boyfriend, uber-hot DJ Afrojack. Brace yourself for some serious pop realness: The music according to Paris is now in full swing.
No one expected a song like “Stars Are Blind” from Paris Hilton. The synth-spangled, ’80s-inspired track, produced by the genius popsmith Fernando Garibay, sounded like nothing else on radio at the time (way back in 2006), with its spunky reggae groove and pleasantly thin vocals; the video announced Paris’ arrival as not just another reality star-turned-singer, but as someone who could actually make good, interesting music. (Even Pitchfork begrudgingly admitted that the song was “so lovely and decent, I want to stab out my eyeballs.” High praise, no?)
And even if nothing else on her debut album approached the heights of “Stars Are Blind” in terms of critical weight, the urban-pop confections on that record remain an absolute delight: The slick, Scott Storch-produced sleaze of “Turn It Up” and the laughable swagger of “Fighting Over Me” eventually give way to some of the most enjoyable pure pop songs of the last decade, like Dr. Luke’s soaring “Nothing In This World” (featuring background vocals from Ke$ha, who was then a session singer on her grind in L.A.) and “Screwed,” a Kara DioGuardi-penned pop gem with a cleverly drawn chorus. And while I’m not going to claim that Paris is coming for Adele or Beyoncé‘s wig with her natural vocal prowess — Paris is a pop star, not a vocalist — the fact remains that there is some fine musical talent there. Even if it’s composed primarily of a good curatorial eye — the ability to spot trends, ride waves and shape the right artistic vision for a project. Paris sounded pretty damn good upon Paris‘ release, and it’s aged unusually well. (Try listening to most of what what was on the radio in 2006 and see if it sounds as fresh as “Stars Are Blind.”)
Read more about Paris Hilton’s new music after the jump.
But Paris got busy, with reality shows, fragrance lines, high-profile club appearances, ghost-written books and all the other things that celebs use to distract themselves from what they should be doing with their lives (making more music for us!), and the sonic well dried up. But even those occasional leaks or promotional singles indicated that Paris hadn’t lost it. Who could forget the charms of “My BFF,” the sparkly pop track released as the theme song for her MTV reality series, Paris Hilton’s My New BFF? Or her brilliantly satirical collaboration with Manufactured Superstars, “Drunk Text,” which ended up exploring identity politics in the digital era with more depth and sophistication than your average academic paper? (You think I’m kidding, but I’m really not. That track’s profound, y’all.)
That’s why I’m so stoked to hear that Paris is coming back, and with a vengeance. Her upcoming album is executive-produced by her current boyfriend, the hugely successful DJ and producer Afrojack, whose euphoric dance-pop sound will bring a nicely current vibe to the record, and she’s reportedly set to premiere her new single, “After Midnight,” on Ryan Seacrest’s radio show on June 5. She’s said that the track is a collaboration with dance duo LMFAO — who, ironically, were her neighbors in the neighborhood of Pacific Palisades when Paris was growing up — and whether you love them or loathe them, it’s an infectious pop tune that will wedge itself in your subconsciousness for days on end. With Paris’ business savvy, Afrojack’s hand in informing the creative vision and Redfoo’s pop savvy, this project kinda sounds unstoppable.
Because ultimately, a businesswoman is what Paris is, first and foremost, through all of her diverse enterprises. Maybe her first love truly is music, but my suspicion is that she’s motivated more by total global domination than by a passion for the craft of pop-making. But there’s nothing wrong with that. She’s a smart enough businesswoman that she knows how to pull tougher the constituent parts to make a hugely satisfying pop album — and I have no doubt that’s exactly what she’ll deliver.