Welcome to Musical Math, a new feature where we try to pick apart a new pop song’s origins. For our first entry, we have the musical return of one of the last decade’s most controversial figures, in both pop and the tabloids.
In what’s either a bid for notoriety or a genuine appreciation of one of the most reviled pop records of the early 21st century, the newest song by the Denver production duo Manufactured Superstars, called “Drunk Text,” features none other than mid-naughts poster girl Paris Hilton on vocals. Its musical lineage is solid enough to make you wonder if squirming through the hotel heiress’s tales of sticking her phone up her friend’s dresses and bitching about bottle-service schlubs might actually be worth three minutes and 47 seconds of your time. A breakdown below.
Take the minor-key house thump of
Technotronic, “Pump Up The Jam”
Add the vaguely rhythmic spoken-word cadence describing the ills of the current moment from
LaTour, “People Are Still Having Sex”
With just a pinch of the life-of-an-heiress-can-be-so-blasé attitude from
Cristina, “Deb Behind Bars”
(just make sure you don’t get too much obvious self-awareness in there)
Stir in the technological-misfortune narrative of
Backstreet Boys, “The Call”
As well as the innate knowledge that lots of people who can afford bottle service are not worth one’s time that’s also exhibited by
And, perhaps most importantly, throw in a heaping tablespoon of the persona-unease offered by
Paris Hilton, “Stars Are Blind”
Et voila, you have
Manufactured Superstars feat. Paris Hilton, “Drunk Text”
It really isn’t a bad song—the beat has been stuck in my head in a pleasant way since first listen, and the internal rhyme of the admittedly mess-of-consonants lyric “hot mess of misspelled obscenities,” which appears on the bridge, is somewhat impressive, and the bit of regret that flares into Hilton’s voice at the very end sounds like the sort of champagne hangover that could only come from drinking too much and getting stuck with the bill. The SMS-begat banality expressed by the lyrics is so ’10s; think of it as one of those fronting-yet-“deep” text-heavy images people post on Facebook and Tumblr in order to Make Their Badassery Known, and its zeitgeistiness will make a lot more sense.
But putting Hilton at its front means saddling the thing with a ton of baggage, from the sex tape to The Simple Life to the canoodling with Britney and Lindsay to the [insert your own TMZ-borne narrative beat here]—especially in the current moment of war, economic unease, and endless Republican primaries. If anyone other than Hilton unspooled the narrative of bottle service and not-so-stealth upskirts, would people be more prone to letting this song’s admittedly millimiter-shallow charms work on them? Well, maybe Kim Kardashian would inspire a bit more irritation.