30 years ago - on the 17th of February 1981 - a precious angel was sent down from heaven to brighten the world with her wit, intellect and stunning vocal talent. Of course, I'm talking about Paris Hilton - a true renaissance woman who will be looked back on in 100 years as perhaps the defining figure of the early 21st century. Without her pioneering research into being famous for nothing there would be no Kim Kardashian or Heidi Montag. Without her riveting screen presence reality TV would be an extinct genre. Without her iconic sex tape people would never consider being fucked on camera a good career move. I could go on forever. There are millions of reasons to celebrate the existence of Paris Hilton but none more important than her era defining contribution to popular music. As far as I'm concerned her 2006 masterpiece "Paris" is one the best albums of the last decade. It slots in next to "State Of Mind" and "Neon Nights" as a near perfect collection of bright and shiny pop tunes. So in celebration of Paris' criminally underrated music career, here is a retrospective on one of the greatest albums ever recorded.
The amazing thing about "Paris" - besides the fact it's not completely shit - is how far ahead of its time it was. The album still holds up brilliantly five years later. Paris was rocking the urban dance sound when Rihanna was still trying and failing to bring island beats to the masses, while the line of producers would make any A List diva green with envy. Seriously, there's Fernando Garibay (the man behind Lady Gaga's "Born This Way") and Dr Luke (who co-produced Britney, P!nk and Avril Lavigne's latest singles) as well as JR Rotem and Scott Storch. Not that a cast of super producers automatically guarantees a great record. Just listen to Madonna's "Hard Candy" for proof. Paris selected 11 tracks that showcase her powerhouse vocals and mean something to her. She sings about being hot, having hot sex and looking hot at the club. Needless to say, it's completely amazing and should be protected for future generations by UNESCO.
"Turn It Up" opens the album in breathtaking style. A saucy club banger that topped the US dance chart, the track is a toothpick perfect Scott Storch production that effortlessly positions Paris as the thinking man's (mid-tempo) dance diva. I love the heavy beats but the Oakenfold and Rauhofer remixes really bring the song to life and probably should have been pushed to radio in Australia and Europe. Next up is the songbird's urban groove "Fightin' Over Me". This hip hop adventure should be completely ridiculous but Paris makes Nicky Minaj look like Taylor Swift with her street cred and fierce attitude. Another unlikely triumph is her worldwide top 10 smash "Stars Are Blind". I don't think anyone was expecting the heiress to experiment with reggae on her debut single but she did and it worked. It's sad how far Fernando Garibay has fallen since producing this gem.
JR Rotem - mentor of Jason DeRulo and my girl Auburn - contributes "I Want You", one of the album's cutest pop songs. I love the "Grease" sample and firmly believe this would have been a huge hit if anyone else released it. The same goes for her amazing dig at Nicole Ritchie. "Jealousy" has a raw honesty that never fails to move me. Poor, misunderstood Paris sings "I was always happy when I was watching you become a star but you were only happy when the world was openin' up my scars". Heartbreaking and extremely fucking catchy! The pop pioneer's dark mood continues on "Heartbeat", which samples Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time". Storch is often dismissed as a bit of a pretender but his production on this is beautiful, making Paris sound like angel. Particularly when she coos the iconic lyric "my heart beats like a drum when I hear you cum".
My favourite song on the album and one of the best songs of the noughties is"Nothing In This World". Dr Luke creates the perfect pure pop palette for the diva's heavenly vocals - which are lifted to untold heights with a little help from Ke$ha. Before she revolutionised popular music with her own tunes, K Dollar was a struggling session singer who somehow landed a gig singing back up on this track. You can actually hear her on the chorus if you listen closely! That song was always going to be a hard act to follow but "Screwed" is pretty amazing in its own right. A single in Japan, this Greg Wells produced track was the subject of a legal battle between Paris and Haylie Duff. For that reason alone this song belongs in a museum of modern history. "Not Leaving Without You" is probably the album's weakest track but it is forgotten the moment "Turn You On" begins. This is probably my second favourite song on the album. Paris purrs amazing lyrics like "girls and boys are lookin' at me, I can't blame them 'cause I'm sexy" over chunky dance beats. Yours faves could never! A less than inspiring cover of Rod Stewart's "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy" closes the album but it's so tongue in cheek and ridiculous that I just can't bring myself to hate it - which pretty much sums up my attitude to the woman herself.
Happy birthday, Paris. Have a line or two for me!