Exclusive photos courtesy of Paris Hilton
Paris Hilton is better than you. This is an indisputable fact. You might think she's “famous for being famous,” but while her trust-fund-kid peers lived off mommy and daddy, she used her primo last name to build a business empire that includes fragrances, a hotel, and a chain of Paris stores in countries around the world. Along the way, she essentially invented the reality TV star, setting the stage for Kim Kardashian to possibly make a reported $200 million off a video game.
Oh, and Hilton's also one of the greatest pop stars of all time.
If you don't believe me, watch Hilton's new music video for “Come Alive,” the long-awaited lead single of her new album on Birdman's Cash Money label. Like Cher’s “Believe,” the song's electro sound and romantic lyrics make it the perfect track to dance to both after you get married and after your boyfriend dumps you for a boy he met on Tinder. Hilton shows this in the video by playing with a unicorn and lying on a giant pink, fluffy thing that looks like both cotton candy and a cloud.
Like Madonna during her early years, Hilton understands that pop music is purely about having fun. This is clear throughout her short but brilliant discography: the campy “Drunk Text,” (sample lyric: “I went out to the club the other night / To, you know, / Dance with my bitches”) and her debut album Paris, which gave us the now classic song “Stars Are Blind.” Instead of squashing metaphors into three-minute songs Lady Gaga–style, Hilton sings catchy hooks about nothing over fun melodies, which is all anyone ever wanted from a pop song.
The best part is that Hilton never tries to seem “just like us” the way Jennifer Lawrence brags about pooping or Hillary Clinton claims she understands poverty. “Maybe 'cause I'm hot, hot today / And I'm so, so, so, sexy / All the boys, all the silly boys, / They want to fight over me,” she brags on Paris’s “Fightin’ Over Me.” For years feminists have dreamed of a Hollywood that produces more than “relatable” female stars and actresses, and Hilton the Pop Star is that girl.
Interested in learning more about the ideas behind Hilton’s pop music, I called her last week while she was cruising down Mulholland Drive to talk about her new album, her theories about music, and unicorns.
VICE: “Good Time,” your last song, had more of a hip-hop flavor. This song is electro-pop. Why did you decide to change genres?
Paris Hilton: I love all types of music, and the whole album is very eclectic. It has all different types [of music]. For the first single, I want it to be more of a party song—this one is a song about love. I think summertime is about love, so I really wanted to write a song that just conveyed the feeling of love and how amazing it feels and how it makes you happy and come to life. I just thought it would be the perfect summer song.
Although the song is clearly about summer love, it gets a bit dark during the bridge. Were you trying to capture the ups and downs of romance?
Yeah, love is not always perfect—things happen. So I just wanted the song to also have that there as well.
What's the perfect summer song?
I think the perfect summer song is something that has beautiful lyrics that make you happy, has a fun beat, and puts you in a good mood. That’s why “Stars Are Blind” is such a summer hit and still to this day an iconic summer song
How does this song fit the Cash Money brand since you’re attached to their label now?
What’s great about their brand is that they not only do hip-hop; they also do other artists who do other types of music. Birdman loved the song when I first played it to him. He had me play it for him like a hundred times in a row at his house, and he was loving it—I think they love it too. It’s something new for them because they mostly, obviously, do hip-hop, and he’s loving getting more into this electronic world.
Why are there unicorns in the music video?
Because I wanted the music video to be a fantasy dream world and just be frilly and magical, and I think the unicorn is the epitome of magical creatures—and I’ve always wanted to have one.
If you had a unicorn, what would you name it?
I do have a little pony named Lady Coco Chanel, but if I had a unicorn, I would probably just name her Princess Unicorn.
Is making music for you therapeutic? Other artists, like outsider Farrah Abraham, say recording can have that effect.
I think being in the studio and writing down your feelings is kind of like writing in a journal almost, so I’d say it’s therapeutic. Music is for anyone—you listen to it. It can just change your mood in a minute and make you sad or happy, and it’s just such a powerful thing.
With the exception of Farrah’s noise album, you’re the only reality star whose music has been critically acclaimed. Why do you think your music has succeeded when other reality stars have failed?
Because music is something that’s always been a huge part of my life. I played the piano and the violin since I was three years old. I was in chorus my entire life since I was a little girl, and my mom was an amazing singer and just always grew up doing music, and it’s always been a passion of mine. So I think that’s why. Maybe other people just do it just for whatever—fun—but I’m actually really serious about it.
You take everything from music videos about unicorns to your fragrance line very seriously as a businesswoman. Do you ever go on vacation?
Not really. Everything I do is always work. I can fly somewhere, get paid, then do the event, and then—if I want, if I have time—I can stay for like an extra couple of days and vacation. It’s just I’m booked so much. The offers are so amazing that I don’t want to turn things down, so I do all of the best things. It doesn’t really leave much free time for me. I don’t mind, though. I love it.
What audience has kept your music and brand popular?
I will look at that when I do certain signings for a fragrance. I will get the little kids coming who are like four or five years old, and then the teenage girls, and then of course my gay boy fans, who I love. The moms, the grandmas, and then the other guys who are just there to hit on me. It’s all ages—girls, boys, men, women. It’s really awesome, and that’s around the world. They call themselves the Little Hiltons, and I meet them around the world, and I really care about my fans, and I think that’s something really important because those are the people that mean the most in this business.
Unlike a lot of celebrities—such as Hillary Clinton, who recently said that she had been struggling for money when she left the White House—you’ve always been very upfront about being born privileged. Why is that?
I’m just always honest with everything, and that is a truth. Yes, I’m very fortunate. I did come from a wealthy family, but at the same time I didn’t have to work, and I chose to. I’ve done this all on my own, so I’m very proud of that fact. I easily could have been like all these spoiled trust-fund kids who never work a day in their lives, but I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to make a name for myself, and be independent, and not have to ask my family for anything. I’m very proud of what I accomplished and created.
Follow Mitchell Sunderland on Twitter.