A key scene in Emerald Fennell’s “Promising Young Woman” has audiences falling in love with Paris Hilton’s underrated 2006 single, “Stars are Blind.” The film’s Stars Carey Mulligan and Bo Burnham dance to the song affectionately while in a local pharmacy. The tango soundtracks the two characters’ budding relationship, before — spoiler alert — it all goes south.
Released on Warner Bros. Records as the lead track from Hilton’s debut album, “Paris,” “Stars Are Blind” was produced by Fernando Garibay, who also co-wrote the song with Sheppard Solomon and Ralph McCarthy. As it turns out, the tune was earmarked for another pop singer entirely: Gwen Stefani.
The uber talented Garibay, who is the mastermind behind many of the tracks on Lady Gaga’s “Born this Way” album, which he executive-produced, and Sia’s “Hologram,” has not yet seen seen the movie due to work commitments in and out of the studio. Among his extra-curricular projects: he founded The Garibay Center, touted as “the first and only executive development center that matches best in-class corporate and academic institutions with elite artists to deliver breakthrough models that inspire and sustain creativity, purpose, and wellness.” Garibay also lectures at Harvard University (Harvard Business School) and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Mass.
How does it feel to see “Stars are Blind” have a resurgence after all this time because of “Promising Young Woman?”
I’ve been in a cave of research here, so I haven’t’ seen the film … yet. But this is a privilege to hear. Here’s what I do know, I’ve been seeing “Stars are Blind” pop up in my feed. Then Paris gave me a shout-out, and I thought it was awesome. That was honestly my train of thought.
What’s the story behind the song coming together?
It started out as a demo. I was working at Interscope — in-house, with Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre — and I was a producer there. I had this song idea for Gwen Stefani and they said, “That’s awesome, but she’s about to have a baby.”
Did you get to pitch it to Gwen at all?
We didn’t get to that point. The song was a demo — a half-thought out idea. I had this random meeting with Paris’ A&R [at Warner Bros.], and he asked if I had any demos lying around that might be good for Paris. I thought, “Paris Hilton doing a record?” I asked him what she was looking for, and it was this era of pop-rock and Paris was in this state where half the people loved her and half hated her. They hated her because she was successful and the first social influencer.
It was at the height of her success though – she had just come off “The Simple Life,” right?
Exactly. So for your first single, it needed to be this idea where people fall in love with who she really was. So, I pitched the demo, and he said that’s fantastic, we’re locking it.
What was it like in the recording studio with Paris?
It was my first time meeting her. She pulls up in this fancy sports car and, instead of fighting the paparazzi, she worked every single [camera] angle as she walked to my studio, which was 30 to 40 feet to the door. We played the song, and she started singing in the microphone. It was perfect for her [vocal] tone, but she didn’t really know it. We had to show her how to record. She’s so talented, but needed some guidance.
How long did it take to finish “Stars are Blind”?
We spent two months getting it right. Sometimes, I’d have her for an hour, other times, I had her for three days. It would be recorded around her fittings and her typing. As we were recording, you can hear the clicks of her [Sidekick] phone. She’d try to get us out of the studio to party and hang out, and we remain friends to this day.
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