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Heidi Montag superficial
Courtesy of Warner Music

Is fashion finally recognising Heidi Montag as the pop genius she is?

The reality TV icon turned pop star reflects on her cult track that now soundtracks Paris runways and viral TikToks and inspired Slayyyter to create music

Russian supermodel Irina Shayk is taking a victory lap at Ludovic de Saint Sernin’s AW23 show. She leads a harem of models down the catwalk as a coquettish and vocoded voice coos overhead: “I’ll be your blonde tonight / If that’s what you like / Stilettos and fishnets / If that’s what you like.” The voice in question? That of The Hills and Celebrity Big Brother alum Heidi Pratt (FKA Montag). “I’ll be your hot mess / A school girl in curls / Whatever your type baby / If that’s what you like,” the reality star sings on “I’ll Do It”, a kinky and sex-positive ode to bedroom roleplay. 

Lifted from her 2010 album Superficial – the title a wry smile directed towards her many detractors within the media – the record is an airtight collection of pulsating electropop bangers inspired by Britney Spears’ magnum opus Blackout. Pratt made headlines upon the album’s release after reportedly shifting only 658 copies in its first week and its critical reception was similarly lacklustre. It wasn’t panned by reviewers so much as it was completely ignored. Few, then, would have predicted that any Superficial track would be bothering Pariss catwalks. And yet, here we were over thirteen years later.

After the lights came up on Ludovic de Saint Sernin’s Instagram grid-inspired collection, post-show discussions gravitated towards the designer’s unexpected, Lukas Heerich-engineered soundtrack. “I’m like the Paris Hilton of designers, I really want to be a DJ,” de Saint Sernin says. “My intention was for the models to be walking to the kind of music that girls from the 2000s would have been slaying to. If I was walking a show I’d want to be walking to something fierce.” But the boost in the song’s visibility wasn’t entirely unprecedented: a sped-up version on TikTok had already been a boon to Spotify streams, with thousands of fan cam and OOTD videos scored to Pratt’s fembot vocals. 

“I grew up watching The Hills and Heidi was always the star in my eyes,” he says, but it was TikTok that reminded de Saint Sernin of Pratt’s musical prowess. “The lyrics are really fun and playful, she’s not taking herself too seriously”. Playful is perhaps an understatement. With lyrics like “Come eat my panties off of me,” and “You can be the pilot / We can mile high it,” “I’ll Do It” is a bona fide sex anthem that extolls the value in pleasing a partner and fulfilling their wildest fantasies. The track was also written and produced by a world-class team (Stacy Barthe, LP, and Steve Morales) who have all crafted hits for the likes of Beyoncé, Christina Aguilera, Britney, and Rihanna.

“Heidi said she wanted a song to represent exactly what she was about. Like, ‘Anything that you think is crazy is nothing to me. Whatever it is, I'll do it’,” Morales says. “And she did! This lady don’t play. She's brazen, you know?” The song’s commitment to sexual empowerment was particularly important to Pratt, who is dialling in from her living room in LA, waiting for her newborn son to wake up for his next feed. “I've always been a very sexual person, so I thought incorporating that was great. It’s basically about saying I’m your everything, I’m your complete fantasy. You’re into this? I can do it. You’re into that? I can do it. Like, I’m that bitch,” she says. “And I just do it naturally, it’s effortless. I am that. It's kind of a similar vibe to “Alien Superstar” by Beyoncé.”

Pratt, who maintains that Superficial was “ahead of its time”, is finally getting her flowers. “I saw it was having a moment on TikTok but I didn't see it being this viral. Then I heard about the fashion show. It had three million streams on Spotify at the start of the year and it's jumped to over five million in the past month.” As belated as the success may have been, what could be more affirming than seeing the world’s most famous models strutting down the runway at Paris Fashion Week to your own song? “It was such a great moment. It's actually a blessing to have had that delayed success because I have more appreciation for it now. Back then, at the height of my fame, I thought it would have just naturally happened. You know if I was a Kardashian I'm sure it would have translated a lot easier,” she says, with a laugh.

There is one question that continues to linger, though. Do people even know it’s a Heidi Montag song they’re getting their life to? “Do people know what it is,?” Pratt says. “I have a core fan base that makes sure people know it was my song. But if it wasn’t for them I don’t think the majority of listeners would know. If Vogue (who featured the song in a post-show Instagram reel) knew that was my song, they’d probably take it down! It’s great to have the music speak for itself.” Of course, one person who knows Pratt’s back catalogue is de Saint Sernin, and she looks genuinely overjoyed when I tell her that he knowingly chose the song because it was hers. “Oh my gosh, that just made my day,” she says. “I thought maybe he just randomly selected it but to hear I was an influence on his life and that he strategically picked it just made this even richer for me.”

It’s not just the fashion world that is, at last, putting some respect on Pratt’s name. “I’ll Do It” has acquired a cult status among pop fans, even if it failed to make a dent in 2010. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the track’s even been cited as an inspiration for Slayyyter, who says Pratt’s music transports her back to a time when late-night debauchery and staged paparazzi shots were the name of the game. “I've always loved that album so much because it’s what I imagined you’d hear on a drunken night at a club like Les Deux in LA in 2007,” she explains. “When I was younger and living in St Louis, I’d watch The Hills and I'd be like, ‘I want to go there!’ The music is like a snapshot of that time period and I think that’s so special because that was the last great era of celebrity.”

“She had these major songwriters and stellar producers. She knew the sound she wanted to go for and she fucking nailed it,” the musician says, with a sigh. “People just weren't ready for it.”