Soundtrack Review: 'Barbie: The Album'
A diverse and talented group of artists – even Ryan Gosling, who plays Ken in the movie, is included – contribute to the new soundtrack release, "Barbie: The Album," which is chock-full of hit artists and pink, bubblegum tunes, from the upbeat songs to the the more mellow tracks. Just as the Greta Gerwig-directed film's roaring production design shines, so does this 17-track release. (Two more songs appear on its deluxe edition.)
Lizzo's "Pink" kicks off the album with a lively song infused with beach vibes that one could easily wake up to each morning. Written by Andrew Wyatt, Eric Burton Frederic, Mark Ronson and Lizzo, herself, "Pink" comes through with a vibrant and dreamy sound.
Dua Lipa's "Dance the Night" blasts in next with disco-pop vibes that keep you dancing through the night. Just like her 2020 "Future Nostalgia" album, Dua fuses dance-pop and electronic music with her lyrics, and you will have a blast. "Watch me dance / Dance the night away / My heart could be burnin', but you won't see it on my face."
Nicki Minaj and Ice Spice's "Barbie World" comes in hot with rap and hip-hop beats. The song is an interpolation of the 1997 hit single "Barbie Girl" by Danish Europop band Aqua, who also appears on this track.
Editor's note: In 1997, Mattel, the toy company behind Barbie, sued MCA Records (owned by Universal), who had Aqua signed to its label. The suit, which was later dismissed, claimed, among other things, the song contained "sexual and denigrating lyrics." In a, perhaps, surprising twist of fate, the new track features Minaj and Spice using the word "b---h" along with sexual references.
Another song that harkens back to the past is Charli XCX's "Speed Drive," which interpolates Toni Basil's 1982 single "Mickey." Zooming in at a fast 1:57 seconds full of bop and energy, the song was a big highlight for this album, because I wanted to listen to this song on repeat. "Speed Drive" is catchy and bursting with fun in every lyric.
"Watati" is an incredibly entertaining Reggaetón song by Colombian singer-songwriter Karol G, featuring Panamanian musician Aldo Ranks. The song is about having a good time at the club.
Continuing a similar theme from the previous track, Sam Smith's "Man I Am" is reminiscent of Madonna's "Vogue." It's a clubbing song that the boys could easily vibe to throughout the night. "This one is for the boys / With your greased up and heavy metal toys / So beefed up, you can't get through the door."
Up next is alternative rockers Tame Impala's "Journey to the Real World," a quick psychedelic track taking you from Barbie World to the real world.
After that, we begin to feel the "Kenergy." Ryan Gosling's "I'm Just Ken" is a hilarious mix of '80s balladeering and rock and roll that will have you giddy for its entire 3:42 runtime. The track is probably my favorite song from the soundtrack. Not only is Gosling an excellent actor, but he's also a great singer. This song is so catchy and funny; I cannot get it out of my head since it dropped. Like a hot emo boy song, you'll have a blast listening to it from start to finish. "'Cause I'm just Ken / Anywhere else I'd be a ten / Is it my destiny to live and die a life of blonde fragility?"
Billie Eilish's "What Was I Made For?" is a slower, vulnerable and more cathartic song that hits you like a shot to the heart. Eilish's whispering lyrics will send a wave of emotions over you. "I used to float, now I just fall down / I used to know, but I'm not sure now / What I was made for / What was I made for?"
Without spoiling a scene in the movie, I will say that when Eilish's song starts to play in the background, it is one of the film's most poignant and moving sequences. As you listen to her words, a tear or two may even be shed by the end. It's a powerful scene.
Interpolating Crazy Town's 2000 single "Butterfly" (which, itself, samples Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Pretty Little Ditty"), Gayle adds some pop-punk to the soundtrack with "Butterflies."
While keeping the butterfly theme going, artist Ava Max swings things back into dance-pop mode with her irresistible vocals and melody. And finally, we sail in at No. 17 with FIFTY FIFTY's "Barbie Dreams," featuring Kaliii. This K-pop group takes us home with their captivating song and lyrics. Like an epic dance party, "Barbie Dreams" will get you up off your feet and dance like there's no tomorrow. "When I close my eyes, it's a fantasy / Perfect plastic life from a magazine."
In the end, "Barbie: The Album" is a bubblegum swirl of pizzazz, irresistible tunes and electrifying music from an incredible group of artists. All 17 tracks are wonderfully incorporated into the film's plot.