Wednesday, August 30, 2006


Song: Screwed
Artist: Paris Hilton
Album: Paris

I walked around Tower records, I had the CD in my left hand, the cover facing toward my body which for the most part stayed snug to my side in the hopes nobody could see what I had. I was pretty much walking and looking aimlessly for something, ANYTHING, else to buy. It was new release Tuesday but I already had the new Pete Yorn, and the new Dylan. But I knew I needed something else... Unfortunately I already had the latest Q Magazine, I stood there cursing myself for being so up to date with EVERYTHING. Fortunately I came across the latest Keane record, which wasn't new, but I didn't have it and had heard nothing but good things about. It was on sale too... great.

So like adding on shaving creame, a candy bar, a magazine or three at the supermarket check out when all I needed was a pack of condoms... I was determined to at least be buying SOMETHING else other than the Paris Hilton CD. So for the first time since, well... I think since I bought the New Kids on the Block Christmas record on cassette (which I did with money I won at a dance talent show no less) I was actually embarrassed to be buying a piece of music. But I was like twelve when I was secretly enjoy my first (and really last) boy band... I'm thirty now.

So what is it about this Paris thing? Why on earth should I be embarrassed? Maybe I'm not over my hipster bullshit after all... am I thinking once again that obscurity somehow equals quality? Or is it because this girl is so publicly hated? (At least by the people I hang out with.) I'd been playing this game for a while, lowering my work speakers just a little when her "Stars Are Blind" came up on my iTunes. Walking down the street while it blast through the iPod earphones looking to see if anyone can hear it... this is absolutely ridiculous.

So I bought the Paris Hilton CD. So did over 75,000 other people last week. I could be ashamed about a lot of other things, but not this. Why this?

I've been listening to this record and slowly a few things have dawned on me. First, it is a fun dance pop record, the songs are a good variety... reggae-lite, club bangers, pop-rock, hip-pop, something to please everyone. She looks great in all the packaging, if a little Playboy-spreadish. There's a mini catalogue of all things Paris Hilton, the bags, the perfume, and whatever else, which made me laugh in its absolutely shameless glory. But the biggest thing that crossed my mind as I listened to each track and thought, "yeah Beyonce could do this one, that one is more Britney, there's a littlee Ashlee there," etc. etc. I realized what this CD really is...

This CD represents the best commentary on the state of music, technology, and entertainment culture and how warped it all is right now. And I have a theory... that's it's totally intentional. Yes ladies and gentleman... Paris is our new Andy Kaufman.

Let's imagine that you're Paris Hilton. You and your sister grow up and your father happens to have started and owns one of the largest hotel chains in the world. You, from the start, have never had to worry about money and upon your eighteenth birthday inherited probably more than an entire family will make... for its next thirty five generations. You turn twenty one and have five parties in five different continents... what is there to do with life?

You don't create the Hilton Hotel dynasty without being smart, ambitious, and ruthless. Mr. Hilton no doubt discussed life, money, what it means to succeed in life, etc. with his daughters. (Actually I think there is a brother too, I don't know forgive me, I don't really follow this 100% I did meet Mrs. Hilton though, briefly a couple years ago. She came into my old office where she was having a meeting to discuss a possible TV show called "Dress To The Hilt," and no I am not kidding. I was to escort her from the main lobby to the conference room. She was lovely, beautiful, confident... for some reason I opened the door and liked her right away. We talked about the weather (It was hot... really) and fake handbags (she buys them too!) ANYHOW... what I am getting at is that you don't grow up a Hilton without learning what it means to be successful either by osmosis or just by understanding through living... the glamorous life.

So does little Paris take over part of her fathers business? Well, I assume Paris looked at the situation like I would have, that looks like a lot of work, I'll never have time for friends... you know what I'm pretty, I'm going to be a model. Now if any of you have watched an episode of "America's Top Model" you know that modeling is much much harder than it looks. Well she was successful. Then she decided to create handbags, and she was successful. Clothing line, successful. Perfume, successful. Television show? Hit. And before you start in with "Well, I'm sure with all her money and connections it was easier for her to get these things off the ground..." You're absolutely right. And instead of sitting there and whining about it why don't you get off you ass and actually do something. We don't choose who we're born from, Paris just happens to be bor a millionaire heiress. All she know is how to be Paris. And I love her.

My mini-Paris obsession I believe started when I saw her on Jay Leno. I was late to hearing about who she was, didn't know all this party girl stuff, the modeling, and outrageous jet-set parties. Nothing. But I was, through cultural osmosis, getting piece by piece. I watched two episodes of The Simple Life in shocked disbelief that it was actually a hit. But seeing her on Leno, as she was promoting her book (!!) "How to Be An Heiress" (or something like that, I don't know) I noticed something. This girl, this "Paris Hilton" with her one-to-two word answers, girly voice delivery, features too perfect... I kind of though to myself, this girl looks like she's acting. She has publicly admitted that her persona on the "The Simple Life" is a character but I don't think the con ends there. And can we pause for a moment to think about that... it's amazing how that show can be presented as a reality show yet its star says she is playing a character. And I would guess that of the people that watch the show roughly um... 90% of them think this is actually who this girl is. Why wouldn't you hate her? But this is the new way people accept things. We can be lied to, mislead, you name it... told so and yet, still go along with it and go... "um, okay."

I got to love Paris because I would watch her and watch people's reaction to her and see the anger and hatred they had for her and she would just giggle, say "that's hot" and go onto the next adventure. But for me I saw through all of it. I think the entire Paris Hilton thing is a massive con. And I love her for it! Everyone hates her because she doesn't "do" anything. Well no actually as I've illustrated she does a lot. And I am not one of those people that thinks she is just the public figure for some nameless entity from within her father's dynasty that just does all the public stuff while people behind her do all the work. There is a cohesiveness to everything that she has done that she embodies perfectly. From the clothes to the perfume, hell... down to the sex tape this is all too perfect. Rich people don't raise morons and I would not be surprised if Paris spoke multiple languages and was well versed in art, literature, you name it. Now, you'll never see this side of her because that would not work for this colossal joke we're all part of.

Now Paris is aiming to be a pop star. The cynic might say that she just paid for the hottest producers (she did) who crafted a pitch-perfect album of genre crossing pop gems (they did) that bended her weak as rice paper voice into something listenable (check) and involved enough street cred to make it credible. (Scott Storch, what's up kid!) Yes, yes, this is all true. And that is exactly why this record might be one of the most import releases of the year. With "Paris" Paris Hilton has basically said to the world that with enough money, the right amount of ambition... you too can be an international pop star. And what is so great about her is that she doesn't hide any of this.

Britney has a weak voice, couldn't write a quality song if she tried, and is one of the most successful young woman on the planet. "Bands" like N*SYNC, The Spice Girls, and the Backstreet Boys were created by jury, and are about as authentic as a unit as a hand-picked barrel of apples. Most bands find each other by accident either by growing up together, answering an ad in a paper, etc. Most fail because at least one person sucks or can't really perform or doesn't look good in the publicity pictures. So is it not any wonder that these groups become successful when each member is picked from hundreds who tried out? Ashlee Simpson can't sing, was caught lip syncing on live television, and yet was able to throw out a lame answer and continue on with her career. We are continuously lied to by these people that want to entertain us and we take it with a smile. Yet we hate Paris Hilton.

But this type of non-organic pre-fabricated product as music is not something that just happens in pop music. The Sex Pistols were just as created as The Spice Girls and were much less successful. Yet, they played the rock and roll side "invented" punk and go down in music history as a band that meant something. They couldn't sing, they couldn't play, and yet it didn't matter. The Great Rock & Roll Swindle indeed! When I hear some recently hair-dyed-black fourteen year old talk about listening to "music that really matters" and mentions the Pistols I really have to stop and laugh. Aside from the different type of music, there is no difference between the Sex Pistols and any recent created pop band. Sucka!

Paris already has a top ten album and a hit song. From a couple listens to the album I can honestly say that any one of these songs could be hits. They could have been given to anyone and they could be on the radio non-stop. That is what is amazing about this whole thing. With this album artistic integrity has been made completely irrelevant. But this is not new... it's been happening for quite some time AND is not just regulated to the world of teen dance pop. Wit the onset of new technology literally anyone can be a music producer and or an "artist." I speak from experience. With Apple's unbelievably easy to use GarageBand I have been able, without ANY musical ability, to craft about a half dozen totally listenable songs. I can't sing worth anything... no worries, use the automatic pitch correction. I can't play an instrument... no biggie, just use a keyboard to play either guitar, drums, trumpet, you name it. There are literally thousands of new "bands" on MySpace putting up home crafted music that actually sounds good. And the only difference between the next Riannah and some art-pop band from Brooklyn are different outfits. Pop will, and has, eaten itself.

The fact that this Paris Hilton album is actually pretty good is the entire joke. For over two decades the world of music has been completely altered and in a way this album is a representation of everything that is ridiculous about it. And I give Paris Hilton the credit for all of this. She made this happen, she created the package. You can not tell me that this girl has had success after success without knowing what she is doing. Life just doesn't work that way. People that don't know what they are doing fail. It is important to note that on the back of the album it reads; "Executive Producer: Paris Hilton." Executive Producer? For an album? An Executive Producer for a movie is usually the money man who has minimal hands-on work involvement but everyone listens to and shapes the project. The fact that she uses that title for herself is absolutely hysterical to me.

The music isn't really worth talking about because I think most of you have made up your mind about it before you have listened to it. But I will tell you that it is a solid piece of work from a pop perspective. And if you let yourself hear this song a few times you will start to sing along to it and like it in spite of yourself. And it's called "Screwed" for heaven's sake!

Paris Hilton could in fact be playing the biggest joke on pop culture we've seen to date, and when she's grown tired of the pop star/media whore thing and blows the entire ship out of the water with a giggle, a smirk, and a "later." I'm going to stand up, start clapping, and say; "That's hot."


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