Warner Bros. records has given Perez Hilton his own label imprint, based on Perez’ somewhat trumped up claim that he’s a capable “marketing person” and “manager,” and he’s got “an ear” for marketable music. His early swooning over Lady Gaga and Mika are often cited as examples of his tastemaking, along with occasional phenomena such as the PS22 Chorus.
It would be easy to bank on Perez’ hateability and roll out a hit job here, citing artists he’s talked up that are either going nowhere fast (Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head, Dragonette, the return of Aqua), and/or just totally suck (The Pussycat Dolls, Robyn, Drake). And really, I don’t know that I’ve ever seen Perez go way out on a limb for a band noone else was talking about; I always just took him for a ticket-puncher at the gateway through which West Hollywood club darlings pass from the scene’s proving grounds into mainstream media. But this isn’t about Perez Hilton’s taste in music.
We’ve got mixed feelings about Perez. He’s a douche for sure, but we have a great deal of respect for the hard work he’s put into building his empire from the ground up. He believed in it… Or maybe he didn’t even think about it. Either way, he just did his thing. Day in, day out. He put 120% in, even when nobody gave a shit but him. He did it better than anyone else, and he made it to the top of a huge hill most people didn’t even know existed until he put his name on it.
We’ll give some credit to Warner Bros. on this one, because it’s not an entirely retarded idea. We don’t expect to like any of the bands he signs. We expect him to roll out the rainbow carpet for a bunch of crappy LMFAO type bands we don’t need. But there’s a ghost of a chance that Perez could lead a big step forward for the major label record industry. And we’d love to see him pull it off.
Unfortunately, the odds are stacked high against him. As Maura at Idolator suggested, you can’t expect an old-fashioned company like Warner not to demand that their properties get an exemption from their new partner’s trademark shameless shit-slinging. And even if Warner doesn’t explicitly demand it, you’d almost expect it to come naturally from a social climbing bandwagoner like Perez.
Recently, some chinks in Hilton’s armor have been exposed. By now most of you have probably heard about his public, caught-on-tape-by-TMZ fracas with the Black Eyed Peas. Perez dissed Fergie and the band’s new album, and Will.I.Am confronted Perez about it. Things got heated, Perez called Will a “faggot” (because he thought it somehow would be more insulting than “nigger,” apparently), and the Peas’ thug of a manager punched the blogger out. What I found most ridiculous was that Perez twittered for police intervention, compelling Will to join Twitter, his very first tweet being his rebuttal. But that’s yesterday’s story, and one we were fine steering clear of.
Then there was the Michael Jackson thing a few days later. When it was first reported that Jackson had suffered a heart attack, Perez fired off a characteristically disrespectful inquiry as to whether or not it was just a psychosomatic case of cold feet, with a demanding farewell tour looming on the horizon. Perez wasn’t alone- Roots drummer ?uestlove twittered the same thought, more or less. And I suspected it myself. But Perez broke the first rule of blog club: You never delete a post. The epic backpedal was meat on a spit for millions of Perez detractors everywhere.
It would be extremely naïve to speculate that either of these events could have instigated any significant downfall for the queen of some media, but it doesn’t take much more than a brief display of insecurity for the people to pull down your monuments when your fifteen minutes are up. And this deal with Warner could shake some sand out of that hourglass if Perez doesn’t play his cards right.
Perez Hilton needs to listen to his base now, and use his newly leased powers for their cause. If Perez can truly represent his people, he can redeem himself as their loyal champion, and Warner will stand by his Success (with a capital $). But if he gets sucked into the sarlacc pit Maura detected right around the corner, he’ll be outcast as a sellout; he’ll have officially gone “mainstream,” the kiss of death for the fad he will eventually be proven to have been, and Warner Bros. will not shed one tear. I don’t expect Warner- or any major label- to have that foresight, and respect the public’s bullshit detectors more than their own right to omnipotence over their domain. It will be up to Perez to save them from themselves.
Perez has said he wants to “shake up the music business,” that he would do it himself if he had to. But as misfit pundit Bob Lefsetz openly charged in an email blast yesterday, Perez is playing by deprecated twentieth century rules by getting in bed with Warner:
“[Hilton] could use some of that $72,000 a day advertisers pay to be on his site to break his own bands. And own everything. Emulate another gay hero, David Geffen. Do you really think if Geffen was starting out today he’d go into business with Edgar Bronfman, Jr. or Doug Morris? No way. Or, if he did, he’d want the lion’s share of the money. But that’s one of the things Geffen does best, sidle up to you, making you think he’s your best friend and then executing a lucrative deal. Perez is not famous for negotiating. He’s just famous!”
It’s too late for the most urgent advice we would have had for Perez. It would have been to stay away from the major label, CD sales driven business, and listen to your base, not to the delusional, deceptive seductions of an industry convinced it can push back the future with brute force. But now that he’s there, he needs to be strong, and refuse to ever trust Warner Bros. with the operation of the alien device they have just acquired. He needs to have faith in himself and prevail over the dark side, at precisely the moment where it’s harder than it’s ever been. But that’s the stage all of history’s greatest victories have played out on.
We’re pulling for you, you gay douchebag.
Photo by John W. MacDonald.