Scent of Celebrity: For many musicians, it makes a lot of sense
“Bad Choices” probably wouldn’t be much of a seller.
Neither would “Obnoxious Tour Rider” or “But Everyone Uses Autotune.” Same goes for “Boob Flash” and “Once Again to Rehab.”
So, pop and country stars who turn to the perfume arts, or at least put their names on the bottles, tend to settle on names such as “Luscious Pink” and “Gold” and “Nude.” Recently, executives with Comme des Garçons Parfum announced they were teaming with Pharrell Williams on scents for men and women to be released in September. The fragrances will be named “GIRL,” like his album released March 3.
With up to 1,000 fragrance lines launched each year, according to market research firm NPD Group, celebrity endorsement can distinguish a fragrance from the pack. Along with athletes and actors, musicians increasingly have endorsed fragrances bearing their name or even likeness.
But what do those perfumes and colognes smell like? While many musicians claim in interviews to have an active hand in the creation of the scent — and maybe they really were right there in the lab! — it ultimately comes down to a collection of fragrance notes and the overall impact.
Will it be “a radiant floral bouquet of red vanilla orchid, magnolia and neroli, balanced with a kiss of luscious blush peach” (and that’s just the top notes as described by marketers of Beyoncé‘s fragrance “Heat”), or will it smell like tears and chord progressions?
In that spirit, we recently sniffed 37 musician-branded fragrances (it would have been more but Kmart didn’t have sample bottles) at five area stores, huffing coffee beans between for nasal clarity and pondering the olfactory nuance of Taylor Swift and J.Lo.
Here are some highlights:
HEAT, by Beyoncé
Top note: You know the ladies who would never leave the house without lipstick and significant foundational undergarments, who organize the potluck after the funeral, who get their hair set every Friday afternoon, dust themselves with talcum powder after a bath and draw on their eyebrows? Them. It smells like them.
Mid note: Mossy forest as interpreted by Bath & Body Works and Yankee Candle when you walk past their products at the mall.
Base note: Determined woman of a certain age.
Scent as Beyoncé song: “Run the World (Girls).”
FANTASY (10th anniversary edition), by Britney Spears
Top note: Sooooo sweet, like double-braids-skipping-down-a-school-hallway sweet.
Mid note: A lot like the original Fantasy fragrance, actually. Classic, Britney.
Base note: High school prom, the junior version.
Scent as Spears song: “Perfume.” Let’s not over-think this.
PINK FRIDAY, by Nicki Minaj
Top note: Vanilla extract accidentally spilled on the floor of a salon by the stylist who is constantly vowing to quit eating candy.
Mid note: Everlasting Gobstoppers and Sprees, crammed with abandon into greedy mouths when the teacher’s not looking.
Base note: Regret.
Scent as Minaj song: “Young Forever.”
SENSATIONAL, by Celine Dion
Top note: Flowers. Just lots and lots of flowers of every color from everywhere.
Mid note: A woman on a cruise ship in a wide-brimmed hat with white linen pants.
Base note: Floral?
Scent as Dion song: “The Power of Love.”
OUR MOMENT, by One Direction
Top note: The bouquet Harry and the boys take to their grandmas when they visit because they’re sweet like that, and the butterscotch candies in a cut-glass dish that grandma has waiting for them on the coffee table.
Mid note: The sugary, fruity drink one of the other four guzzles in anger because nobody even knows his name, it’s all “Harry Harry Harry, ooh look, there’s Harry.” Bollocks!
Base note: Regular gig in Vegas circa 2028.
Scent as One Direction song: “Heart Attack.”
ADAM LEVINE BY ADAM LEVINE, by Adam Levine
Top note: Very citrus-y, like rainbow sherbet.
Mid note: Success, with a hint of tight white T-shirt and 5 o’clock shadow.
Base note: Woody.
Scent as Levine song: “Moves Like Jagger.”
GIRLFRIEND, by Justin Bieber
Top note: The peony-based bouquet Biebs has his assistant send you after he smashes into your mailbox then pees on your lawn, momentarily not realizing he doesn’t actually live at your house.
Mid note: Cucumber-y, like the lobby of a nice hotel — a Marriott or a Hilton, say — somewhere in the middle of the country where Biebs probably wouldn’t stay. But give it 20 years and then we’ll see.
Base note: The piquant tang of never being told no.
Scent as Bieber song: “Never Say Never.”
WONDERSTRUCK ENCHANTED, by Taylor Swift
Top note: Fruity sweet, like a Popsicle.
Mid note: Sitting in the bleachers staring at your dream boy make the winning shot.
Base note: Innocence.
Scent as Swift song: “You Belong With Me,” “Teardrops on My Guitar,” “Love Story”... Poor Tay-Tay. So. Many. Songs.
TRUTH OR DARE, by Madonna
Top note: GARDENIAS!! All of them! In the whole world! Give them all to Madonna!
Mid note: GARDENIAS! Wow. Yikes. Papa don’t preach about the ants they’re sure to draw.
Base note: Gardenias.
Scent as Madonna song: “La Isla Bonita.”
VINTAGE BLOOM, by Jessica Simpson
Top note: A citrus body mist.
Mid note: Subtle and refreshing, like a spa that serves water with lemon essence, uses a towel-warmer and plays Yanni.
Base note: Fresh.
Scent as Simpson song: “Irresistible.”
McGRAW SOUTHERN BLEND, by Tim McGraw
Top note: An evergreen air freshener in the cowboy bar bathroom, 10 minutes before last call.
Mid note: The five pounds before the ol’ Wranglers just won’t button, the stirrups that suddenly seem about three inches too high, the swagger that inevitably veers to a stagger, the pick-up with a busted transmission.
Base note: Irish Spring with aloe.
Scent as McGraw song: “Back When.”
CHRISTINA AGUILERA BY NIGHT, by Christina Aguilera
Top note: Musky and seductive, like what a coach on the NBC show “The Voice” would wear to entice singers to join her team when all four judges’ chairs turn.
Mid note: Sweet, powdery but with a hint of espresso bean.
Base note: Meadow.
Scent as Aguilera song: “What a Girl Wants.”