Paris Hilton released a new song today called “I Need You”—ostensibly at least. If you’ve followed her bizarrely compelling post-Simple Life path as a Cash Money Records signee and resident DJ in Ibiza, the tune might feel familiar, and not just because of its retro doo-woppish arrangement. “I Need You” has been floating around the internet in some form since at least 2010, not that you’d know it from her social posts from this week hyping it as a “new single.”
The gossip blogger known as Pop Culture Died in 2009, who specializes in mining forgotten tabloid stories about mid-aughts celebrity figures like Hilton, pointed out the song’s vintage in a tweet this morning, claiming that it had been written along with Good Charlotte lead singer and onetime Hilton boyfriend Benji Madden. To be fair, it sounds like Hilton re-recorded at least some of the “I Need You” vocals sometime between the first version of the song and the one released today, but you’d have to be listening extremely closely to notice.
this song has been on the internet since 2008… she literally recorded it for benji madden a decade ago and she's dropping it like it's new lmao https://t.co/2mQRMz30gs
— popculturediedin2009 (@pcd2009) February 14, 2018
The earliest references we’ve seen to “I Need You” come two years later than that, in 2010. There are multiple YouTube videos containing the full song that were uploaded in July of that year, as well as blog posts speculating that “I Need You” was leaked from Hilton’s sophomore studio album, which was expected to hit stores in the fall or winter.
That album, as anyone who pays enough attention to Paris to recognize “I Need You” already knows, didn’t happen. Her lone full-length is 2006’s Paris, which launched the eternal ironic karaoke classic “Stars Are Blind.” She’s spent over a decade since then taking halfhearted stabs at reviving her pop career, inexplicably signing to Cash Money in 2013 and officially releasing a couple of loose songs a year later. There’s also more material that exists in the same sort of quasi-released limo as “I Need You” did until today: Her recent appearance in a music video by Young Thug and Cash Money founder Birdman was apparently recorded years ago but only published last month, and her song “Drunk Text” (which predicted the Chainsmokers’ “#SELFIE”) has been a cult favorite for fans of campy pop cultural detritus since 2012 despite never getting a formal release either.
Some news coverage of “I Need You” has acknowledged its history, but plenty has not. (The Daily Mail even claimed that Hilton wrote the song’s lovey dovey lyrics about her new fiance Chris Zylka, which makes me feel a little bad.) In a new interview with Billboard, Hilton says the song will be included on a forthcoming new album. Given her track record, I wouldn’t hold your breath about that.