He’s so much more than ‘Just Ken’: Ryan Gosling makes history with ‘Barbie’ soundtrack

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It’s not just Barbie’s world now – it’s Ken’s too. Ryan Gosling’s standout song from the movie of the summer storms into the UK’s top 40 alongside another 5 hits, breaking records in the plastic fantastic world.

It’s been over a week since the Barbie movie was released and it’s still very clear that it truly is Barbie’s world and we’re just living in it.

Having taken over the box office, the film’s soundtrack has now managed to conquer the UK’s music charts.

Three tracks have shot into the top five – the first time songs from a soundtrack have reached such heights at the same time.

‘What Was I Made For’ by Billie Eilish, Dua Lipa’s ‘Dance The Night Away’ and ‘Barbie World’ by Nicki Minaj and Ice Spice stormed into the ranking at numbers three, four and five respectively.

Six tracks in total from the soundtrack have made it into the top 40 – that’s a record too.

There’s a blast from the past making waves too. Scandi band Aqua’s ‘Barbie Girl’, sampled in Nicki Minaj and Ice Spice’s track from the movie, has also returned to the chart for the first time since its initial release in 1997.

Ryan Gosling: Absolutely not ‘just Ken’

Alongside Charlie XCX’s ‘Speed Drive’ – number 19 – and Lizzo’s ‘Pink’ – number 39 – Ryan Gosling has managed to bring some serious Kenergy to the chart.

The ‘Ken’ actor has achieved a number 25 hit with his ballad ‘I’m Just Ken’.

One of the first tracks written by Mark Ronson, who produced the soundtrack, the catchy tune was initially not supposed to be sung by Gosling himself.

Ronson has explained that he was inspired to write the song after reading Greta Gerwig’s Barbie script and sympathising with Ken’s rather clingy and pathetic character, who’s only happy when noticed by Margot Robbie’s Barbie. 

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“I instantly had this idea for this lyric: “I’m just Ken / Anywhere else I’d be a 10.” It just seemed funny. It felt a little bit emo, like, this poor guy. He’s so hot, but can’t get the time of day”, the producer told Vanity Fair.

Featuring top tier lyrics like “Is it my destiny to live and die a life of blond fragility?” Ryan Gosling unsurprisingly asked to perform the track.

As a former Mousketeer, the Notebook star can obviously hold a tune but Ronson and Gerwig have since sung his praises and his approach to the performance.

“He really got [that] it had to walk this line of not being funny or parody,” Ronson told Vanity Fair, adding, “But obviously, the song is also kind of ridiculous at times. So he was really amazing, and when he really did start hitting the big notes, I was like, this dude is a vocal powerhouse!”

Taking it to the next level, Ronson brought in Guns ‘n Roses guitarist and Foo Fighters drummer Josh Freese to play on the track.

Teased via colourful billboards worldwide reading “She’s everything. He’s just Ken”, the track is a standout in the movie and a visual feast for the eyes, with changing sets and costume changes to boot.

Gosling’s Ken has won over audiences and his heartfelt performance of the track has seen calls for him to win an Oscar for a portrayal of the doll, always playing second fiddle to the iconic Barbie.

A new era for soundtracks?

While Barbie ’s soundtrack is packed with bangers which are not out of place in the top pop rankings, it’s not the first record to break out of the movie theatre and into the charts.

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In 2017, The Greatest Showman soundtrack sold a staggering 2.1m copies in the UK, overtaking new releases by the likes of Drake and Ariana Grande.

That achievement was a departure from the trend of superhero franchises and cinematic universes shying away from collaborations with chart-topping musical artists.

In the last five years, though, Post Malone & Swae Lee’s ‘Sunflower’ from Spider-Man: Into The Spiderverse became a top three single in 2018 and last year’s Top Gun: Maverick produced a breakout hit with OneRepublic’s ‘I Ain’t Worried’.

Ryan Gosling also joins his The Place Beyond the Pines co-star Bradley Cooper in inadvertently making the move from actor to actor/singer.

In 2018’s A Star Is Born, Cooper sang ‘Shallow’ a duet with leading lady Lady Gaga. Not only did the duo perform the emotional song at the Oscars but it also topped the Billboard Hot 100.

The greatest soundtrack of all time?

If you, like us at Euronews Culture, are still not over the film of the summer, there are three tracks from the soundtrack to bring you back to the cinema whether or not you’re planning another perfectly pink viewing.

N.B. ‘I’m Just Ken’ isn’t on this list as it goes without saying that it’s a must listen.

Dua Lipa – ‘Dance The Night’

Dua Lipa as Mermaid Barbie had a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it role in the film, but her track is, frankly, a banger. It features nu-disco, funky bass lines and is a classic straight out of her ‘Future Nostalgia’ era. It earns its place as the lead track on the Barbie record and soundtracks one of themost entertaining scenes in the film – put this one on repeat.

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Charli XCX – ‘Speed Drive’

For some reason, Charli XCX is obsessed with cars and most of her hits feature a reference to them. If you don’t believe us, google it. It’s wild! Her song ‘Speed Drive’ is a continuation on that theme, with the pop princess bringing her usual brand of bratty, synthy pop to verses full of the attitude we’ve come to know and love. Taking inspiration from Toni Basil’s ‘Mickey’, Charli’s bop really will blow your mind.

Billie Eilish – ‘What Was I Made For’

We’re not crying, you are. Billie’s low-key ballad at the end of the film adds to one of the most emotional moments in the entire production. No spoilers here but it’s the perfect backing track to a beautifully put together montage which managed not to leave a dry eye in the house.

The Barbie soundtrack and movie are out now.


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