How Is It That We Like the Music of Paris Hilton?

October 11, 2013

Chris Randle is a writer from Toronto who has written for The Globe and Mail, The National Post, The Comics Journal, Social Text, the Village Voice an...

In Sofia Coppola’s Bling Ring, Spring Breakers’ haughty older sister, the celebrities burgled by the title characters appear mostly as still images: cable news headshots or Myspace profiles, contrasted pixels. One coolly unmoving long shot watches the thieves navigating a glass hill house with the enthralled ambivalence of David Cronenberg. The only exception who put in an IRL cameo was Paris Hilton, who also lent her self-branded mansion so the filmmakers could pretend to rob it again. It might be the best sequence in the movie, a Parisian mise en abyme, even as it maintains Coppola’s condescension towards just about every person, object and commodity fetish onscreen. By 2013, the D. W. Griffith of celebrity sex tapes was reduced to a period detail. She’s running a duchy of product lines that makes millions upon millions of dollars every year in relative quiet, but the think pieces are pondering other figures.

Alas, I guess, if only because Hilton previously released a pretty good album, giving her one more than, say, the National. Paris came out in 2006, at the tail end of fetal-looking producer Scott Storch’s brief musical ubiquity, but it otherwise seems eerily detached from time, a series of plush backdrops for pleasant, bored vocals. There’s quasi-reggae worthy of Blondie, an ‘80s pastiche written by the co-author of “Like a Virgin,” a thug-love track about how dumb boys are featuring Fat Joe, Jadakiss, and the refrain “I’m hot to death,” and her “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?” cover, which at least pries that little character study away, like a loaded gun, from the hands of Rod Stewart. The Go-Gos’ Jane Wiedlin contributed in various places, uncredited, and you can tell.

Last summer, for reasons that remain obscure, Lil Wayne’s Cash Money Records signed Hilton to a deal, and this week the first result of it appeared. “Good Time” does sound of its era, in a fascinatingly compulsive way, like child slaves forced to produce molly. The beat by Dutch EDM merchant Afrojack suggests a rave as shown on police procedurals. Wayne gamely admits “I’m fucked up, I can’t tell you what’s what” from the stairs of a local high school. (Maybe I’m ascribing too much logic to people who also recently signed Limp Bizkit, and Wayne is happy to rasp a few mediocre bars for anybody with enough money at this point—still, even if Paris will never become a pop star qua pop star, I wouldn’t be surprised if they parlayed her constant Ibiza DJing and thinly agreeable voice into a few house-y European hits. It makes more sense than voluntarily associating with DJ Khaled, anyway.)

I can type these lyrics onto a page, but I can’t capture the awkward enervation they’re delivered with, a meta-inanity: “I came here just to party / Oh please don’t you hate on me, yeah / Got my sexy girls with me / Oh I love it, love it, love it / Whoa-oh, let’s party, yeahhh, let’s party and have a good time.” And yet I’m still kind of into it. Kim’s relationship with Kanye is an obsessive and beautiful thing, but have you tried listening to her single?

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Chris Randle is a writer from Toronto who has written for The Globe and Mail, The National Post, The Comics Journal, Social Text, the Village Voice and the Awl. Along with Carl Wilson and Margaux Williamson, he is one-third of the group blog Back to the World.