Paris Hilton – Stars Are Blind

Released: 31st July 2007

Writers: Fernando Garibay / Sheppard Solomon / Ralph McCarthy

Peak position: #5

Chart run: 35-5-6-16-19-25-39-59
Billboard Hot 100 chart run: 18-21-30-34-29-28-30-42-49-43-54-81

More than two years after announcing plans to record an album, Paris Hilton finally released her debut single in 2006. Stars Are Blind isn’t necessarily what people might’ve expected, even if it did sound somewhat familiar…

It’s fair to say expectations were not high for Paris Hilton’s foray into music. The New York socialite became an infamous tabloid and pop culture staple during the early ‘00s as one of the most recognisable celebrities dubiously regarded as famous for being famous. She had the status (and wealth) to try her hand at anything: modelling, acting and, most notably, reality TV. Her breakout moment came with The Simple Life; the show, in which she co-starred with Nicole Richie, ran from 2003 to 2007 and routinely drew audiences of 13 million viewers in America. Adding to Paris Hilton’s notoriety was a sex tape that ended up being circulated – without her agreement – as a porn movie titled 1 Night In Paris.

There is undoubtedly an extent to which Paris Hilton courted the tabloids. She was – and still is – her brand, and thus needed to remain visible. Yet, that also led to an intense and, in hindsight, uncomfortable level of press intrusion. Almost everything she said and did – intentional or otherwise – was photographed and written about with increasing derisiveness. So, it’s certainly not that there was disinterest when Paris Hilton stated her intention to record music in late 2003. However, there might have been a sense that this was just something else for her to dabble in.

Nonetheless, during early interviews the following year, Paris Hilton enthused about a song called Screwed, which she intended to be her debut single. There was just one problem: someone else had already planned to release it. Haylie Duff claimed to have recorded the track two years earlier, and Hollywood Records was now preparing to launch her pop career with it. Both women were adamant the song was theirs. However, with a date set for Haylie Duff to premiere Screwed in August 2004, it seemed the dispute had been resolved. That’s until, with just weeks to go, a radio station mysteriously (some might even say, conveniently) got hold of Paris Hilton’s version of the track and played it. Before long, a recording of the broadcast had made its way onto the internet, and Hollywood Records’ plans for Haylie Duff were thrown into disarray (she was later dropped). Thus, Paris Hilton could finally lay claim to Screwed. In principle, it would have been a fantastic debut, partly due to the knowing double-entendre but mostly just because it’s a great pop song. Alas, the leak occurred long before Paris Hilton was ready to officially release any music.

It took so long for anything to come to fruition after the Screwed debacle that one could be forgiven for assuming the idea of a pop career had been forgotten about altogether. Paris Hilton’s debut album underwent several revisions and changes in direction before the lead single finally arrived in 2006. And, by that point, it couldn’t really be a track that had been floating around online – albeit in low quality – for several years. Stars Are Blind was chosen instead, which proved if nothing else, that Paris Hilton was more than capable of defying expectations because of all the things people might’ve predicted (or not) from her music; a reggae-pop mid-tempo was not it.

The track bobs along with a toe-tapping calypso lilt and steel drum kicks as Paris Hilton ruminates over – what else – but her love life: “I…don’t mind…spending some time…just hanging here with you, ‘cos I…don’t find…too many guys…that treat me like you do”. Stars Are Blind makes no explicit references that could be linked to particular relationships. It does, however, provide an, at times, nonchalantly morbid insight into Paris Hilton’s world: “Those other guys all wanna take me for a ride, but when I walk, they talk of suicide, some people never get beyond their stupid pride, but you can see the real me inside…and I’m satisfied” that feels believably close to the truth.

There was inevitable and immediate scrutiny of Paris Hilton’s voice. Vocally, Stars Are Blind sounds…like someone who’s not a naturally gifted singer performing a pop song. That’s about all there is to it. She doesn’t have much power or depth – none of which comes as a surprise – and attempts at gentle vibrato (“If you show me real love baby, I’ll show you mi-i-ine”) are ably manoeuvred with the help of autotune. Her higher register during the middle eight: “Excuse me for feeling, this moment is critical, it might be revealing, we could get physical, oh no, no no…” is huskily whispered with such lightweight softness that it’s at risk of blowing away on the gentle Caribbean breeze figuratively evoked by the serene production.

Yet, whatever limitations may exist, it never feels that Stars Are Blind suffers because of them since the track doesn’t push Paris Hilton beyond her capabilities. The hazy chorus: “Even though the gods are crazy, even though the stars are blind, if you show me real love, baby, I’ll show you mine; I can make it nice and naughty, be the devil and angel too, got a heart and soul and body, let’s see what this love can do” is perfectly whimsical and deceivingly catchy. Furthermore, despite what some critics may have sneered, Paris Hilton isn’t devoid of singing ability. There are plenty of songs with far more enhancement and tuning – whether stylistic or out of necessity – than this one. Her earnestness to sell the sentiment of the lyrics – largely trivial, though it is – comes across as sincere and wholly amiable.

It didn’t take long after Stars Are Blind was premiered for comparisons to be made with UB40’s 1990 single, Kingston Town. Indeed, such were the uncredited – and very obvious – similarities that it resulted in a lawsuit by The Sparta Florida Music Group (who held the rights to the song) against Paris Hilton’s record label. The matter was later resolved out of court, but even that fed into the narrative of chaos and scandal which surrounded her. In this case, though, she had nothing to do with the song’s composition. Someone at Warner Bros. probably should have noticed before Stars Are Blind was released, though. Or maybe they did and hoped to get away with it.

In theory, the music video takes its lead from Stars Are Blind with sun-drenched visuals filmed in Malibu. Except they’re presented in black-and-white (some full-colour shots were added to the international edit), which feels oddly mismatched to the track. The concept mainly revolves around Paris Hilton striking various poses for a photographer while also frolicking in the sea, sand and palm trees with him. There may be a degree to which her inexperience as a pop star led to some uncertainty about where to pitch the video. Even scenes where Paris Hilton sings Stars Are Blind into a microphone are presented as a fashion shoot rather than a performance. It’s only in the closing moments that there’s any concerted attempt to give her some agency in the narrative as she steals the photographer’s car keys and drives away in his convertible.

While the international version of the video doesn’t do anything wildly different (it’s all footage from the same shoot), injections of vivid colour shift the tone. Rather than presenting Stars Are Blind as an artistic think-piece, it leans much more into Paris Hilton simply having fun with the notion of pop stardom. Watching her twirl on the spot, flick her dress and swing around palm trees – the rapid editing creating a sense of franticness – is far more entertaining. Moreover, azure blue skies and hazy sunset oranges create a gorgeous aesthetic that is impossible to discern or appreciate when rendered in black and white. For the most part, Stars Are Blind is storyboarded to play to Paris Hilton’s strengths, which is understandable. Yet, the better moments show a likeable enthusiasm mixed with slight awkwardness that is rather endearing.

From a chart perspective, Paris Hilton’s fame could be seen as both a blessing and a curse for Stars Are Blind. It undoubtedly benefitted from the interest and exposure that accompanied everything she did. So, after debuting at #35 in the UK on digital sales alone, the track rose to a peak of #5 following a physical release. It spent eight weeks in the top 75 and sold 69,000 copies (the 122nd best-seller of 2006). Meanwhile, in America, Stars Are Blind entered the Billboard Hot 100 at #18 – its peak position – before hovering around the top 50 for several months. In both cases, the success was predominantly sales-driven, although it also picked up a modest amount of radio support (it reached #32 on the airplay chart in the UK and #16 on Mainstream Top 40 in the US). However, promotion was almost non-existent, and therein lies the downside. Paris Hilton wasn’t ever likely to drop everything to conduct an extensive round of radio and TV appearances. She didn’t need to. Nothing about her celebrity status depended on Stars Are Blind being a hit, so the stakes were low.

The same is true of the Paris album, which arrived off the back of Stars Are Blind. It peaked at #6 in America and #29 in the UK but had little longevity. That’s a shame because it’s a decent effort. Having assembled a reliable team of writers and producers – including Scott Storch, Kara DioGuardi and Dr. Luke – Paris Hilton is steered through dreamy synth-pop (Heartbeat), pop-rock (Nothing In This World), R&B (Fightin’ Over Me) and even a Grease sample (I Want You). Screwed was also re-recorded and included, ensuring it didn’t go to waste. This is not a revolutionary, era-defining album, nor does it make any claim to be. However, as a product of its time, Paris is a solid collection of songs delivered competently by Paris Hilton. That, quite frankly, is more than even her most ardent fans might’ve hoped for.

Ultimately, the Paris campaign was short. One further single – Nothing In This World – followed, but it missed the Billboard Hot 100 and reached #55 in the UK (though Turn It Up did top the Dance Club Songs chart). Yet, while Paris Hilton never seemed wholly interested in the actual business of being a pop star, she has continued recording and releasing music, including a new Paris’ Version of Stars Are Blind with Kim Petras in 2022. Indeed, such is the cult status of the song that she even joined Miley Cyrus and Sia onstage to perform a rendition of it in 2023.

There’s every possibility that amid the maelstrom of Paris Hilton’s life during the ‘00s, Stars Are Blind could easily have ended up being disregarded as an inconsequential venture. Instead, the track has deservedly endured and is warmly – if not necessarily widely – remembered.

Post Author: cantstopthepop