Paris Hilton – Screwed
Sometimes being a pop music fan requires defending the indefensible. Naysayers and rock snobs abound at every turn, ranting that artists like Taylor Swift aren’t “real” musicians or that Kylie Minogue is “studio manufactured.” For such pop fans, a thick skin is required, particularly when arguing that a band like One Direction provides a much more enjoyable listening experience than, say, Wilco or Pink Floyd. Most people would rather lie and agree with the cool rock kids that Radiohead is a “really amazing band” than risk losing street credibility and admit that they actually prefer the Backstreet Boys. This is particularly true when it comes to music that is mainly a product of studio wizardry and impeccable pop production, rather than real talent. And at no point in the history of music was such a defense put more to the test than in 2006, when arguably one of the greatest pop records of the century was released by one of its most derided artists: Paris, the debut album of celebutante Paris Hilton.
For those of you who were either raised by wolves or spent the last several decades living under a wi-fi free rock, Paris Hilton was the first celebrity of the internet age known more for being famous than for actually doing anything of substance. Born into the Hilton hotels family, Paris first came to public prominence as a model and socialite in the early 2000s, landing on magazine covers and becoming the “it” girl of New York City tabloids and parties. The inevitable sex tape followed, as well as an acting career with roles in such cinematic classics as House of Wax and Nine Lives, (where, in true cinéma vérité fashion, she played a spoiled American socialite who shops on three continents in one day). Her breakout role came in 2003, when she starred in the reality series The Simple Life with Lionel Richie’s daughter Nicole, which each week featured the pair working at a “normal” job, such as cooking burgers at McDonalds or pig farming. With a best-selling autobiography, a lifestyle fashion brand and her own perfume also in play, what would she do next? Record an album, that’s what.
Released in 2006, the album Paris is one of the best examples of how someone with little-to-no actual musical skills can hire the greatest producers and writers in the business and come up with something extraordinary. With songs written by such pop luminaries as Dr. Luke, Greg Wells, Billy Steinberg, American Idol judge Kara DioGuardi and 2006’s reigning pop producer king Scott Storch, Paris is chockablock full of pop gems and surprisingly received many positive reviews from critics, including one who stated that it was “more fun than anything released by Britney Spears or Jessica Simpson, and a lot fresher too.” The first single from the album, Stars are Blind, was a huge smash, reaching the top twenty worldwide. But it is the song that was originally slated to be released first, Screwed, that is the collection’s secret weapon.
Penned by Wells and DioGuardi, Screwed is a contagious and effortless pop-dance marvel, bouncing along for the entirety of its three minutes and forty-one seconds with its tongue firmly in its cheek (as evidenced by, among other things, the double-entendre meaning of its title). Before its release, Screwed was the subject of a legal battle between Hilton and pop starlet Hillary Duff, with the latter claiming that she, rather than Paris, was entitled to release the song. Luckily Paris prevailed and was able to include the song on her album, although unfortunately for radio listeners the song’s release as a single was scrapped in favor of Stars are Blind and the equally fun Nothing in This World. Paris continues to record to this day, and recently scored a top ten hit on Billboard’s US Dance chart this year with High on My Love. And with impeccably produced and joyful songs like Screwed, she silenced many of her critics, proving that lack of talent should be no obstacle to pop perfection.
Entered chart: was not released
Who could sing this today and have a hit? Kylie or Taylor, of course!