Chainsmokers member Andrew Taggart sings through the duration of this slow-building electro-pop jam. He is joined on the chorus and outro by singer-songwriter Emily Warren, who co-wrote their hit "Don't Let Me Down." Warren's other songwriting credits include Shawn Mendes' "Aftertaste" and Sean Paul's "No Lie."
Warren is not credited here, so this is the first Chainsmokers song without a featured vocalist since the 2015 Bouquet track "New York City," which contained uncredited vocals by Victoria Zaro. It is also their first single without a featured vocalist since 2014's "#Selfie," which contained uncredited vocals by Alexis Killacam.
The song was inspired by a friend of Andrew Taggart who in trying to escape from day to day life ended up struggling with a serious drug addiction.
We were staying in Paris To get away from your parents And I thought, Wow If I could take this in a shot right now
The Chainsmokers explained to AntiMusic that over the course of living in this fantasy world with his girlfriend, the two lovers were "thinking life was great and they were just down for each other thinking they were living in this wonderful day dream of a life. But in reality their lives were falling apart as well as the people around them."
The New York EDM duo added: "But the song in a more general sense is about those times when you are one place in one situation but imagine you are somewhere else. Like those times you were laying in bed staring at the ceiling dreaming up a different situation."
The titular "Paris" represents a state of mind rather than the actual French city. Chainsmokers tweeted this definition prior to release of the track:
"Paris - A sentimental yearning for a reality that isn't genuine. 2: An irrecoverable condition for fantasy that evokes nostalgia or day dreams."
Emily Warren told Billboard magazine how she came to contribute vocals to the tune:
"They happened to be in New York and I was working on some stuff at a studio nearby, and they were like, 'Can you please come? We’re finishing this song. It needs a little something; we don’t know what it is. Can you just come sing some background or something?'
So I came in and just layered some of Drew’s parts and sang those different parts that you can hear on the song. They were like, 'All right, sick, the song’s done now.' It was awesome. They just put me in the booth and were like, 'Do whatever you want,' and it turned out how it did."
The sexy lyric video was directed by The Chainsmokers' videographer Rory Kramer, who also did the music clip for "Closer". It stars Instagram model Alexis Ren, who we see frolicking in a Mexican seaside resort.
The song's music video was directed by Mister Whitmore, who also did Snakehips "All My Friends." The clip features windy performance footage of the Chainsmokers duo intercut with scenes of Victoria's Secret Angel Martha Hunt in a house floating high above a sprawling city (not Paris, as far as we can tell). Martha Hunt was also one of the many famous faces to appear in Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood" visual.
The track was actually written in the Swedish city of Stockholm, although the duo had just visited Paris days before. They penned it late one night after a show, starting with the lyrics, "We were staying and Paris" and the song unfolded from there.
The Chainsmokers expanded on the background to the song during a Facebook post:
"Drew had a friend from the East coast who had been struggling with a drug addiction for the past few years. He was a childhood friend and their families were close, so his parents kept him informed on how he was doing. He and Drew would keep in touch on Facebook chat but would never speak about what he was going through, but meanwhile Drew knew of all the craziness that surrounded his friend's life.
We used Paris as a metaphor to convey that he felt like he was in a place where everything was fine, while being acutely aware of other people's concern for him. Paris always being this romantic idealized place, the song is about escaping your reality, a reality often void of excitement and in your mind being somewhere else with someone else."