In 2023, two grand-scale films, ‘Barbie’ and ‘Oppenheimer,’ are vying for attention with their extravagant budgets and simultaneous release on July 21. However, in the soundtrack department, ‘Barbie’ emerges as an instant winner.
The film’s director, Greta Gerwig, teamed up with the legendary Mark Ronson to co-produce the album, and the result is nothing short of extraordinary.
The challenge was to convince the world’s hottest popstars to create a soundtrack that is eagerly camp, soberly meta, and brimming with Kenergy—a formidable task that Ronson and Gerwig seem to have mastered.
The album’s standout tracks skillfully embrace the eerie undertones of the ‘Barbie’ narrative. The opener, ‘Pink,’ a smooth disco number by the effortlessly charismatic Lizzo, perfectly embodies Barbie’s existential crisis.
The lyrics cleverly play on the character’s iconic traits, highlighting the underlying complexities beneath the surface: “Pink! Pretty! Eye? Intelligent! In! Never Sad. Kay? Cool!…”
Another highlight is Sam Smith’s 80s-inspired ‘Man I Am,’ humorously foreshadowing Ken’s codependent predicament. Smith’s ability to transition from deep, sexy tones to diva-like vocals makes them the ideal choice for the song, and they flawlessly execute a pitch-perfect mockery of machismo.
With an exciting blend of top-notch artists, carefully chosen to complement the film’s themes, the ‘Barbie’ soundtrack masterfully captures the essence of the movie.
The combination of talented musicians, Ronson’s expertise in production, and Gerwig’s visionary direction results in a soundtrack that confidently stands on its own, promising an engaging and entertaining listening experience for fans and moviegoers alike.
Billie Eilish’s poignant track, ‘What Was I Made For,’ truly shapes the ‘Barbie’ album, and her sincere delivery of deeply personal lyrics adds a heartfelt depth to the song: “Think I forgot how to be happy / something I’m not, but something I can be.” Eilish’s whispery vocals, complemented by delicate arrangements, convey a sense of sharing Barbie’s deepest, darkest secret, making the track a standout on the soundtrack.
The album holds plenty of surprises, with Ryan Gosling being the biggest wild card. His genuine performance in the glam power ballad, flawlessly belting out the words “blonde fragility” and hitting every note, proves his versatility as a performer.
However, the soundtrack also has its disappointments, particularly from heavyweight contributors. Although Charli XCX and cars seem like a winning combination, ‘Speed Drive’ falls short with lackluster verses and odd vocal processing overshadowing the fantastic chorus.
Dua Lipa’s ‘Dance The Night Away’ feels like leftover material from her album ‘Future Nostalgia,’ failing to make a strong impression. The biggest letdown comes with Ava Max’s ‘Choose Your Fighter,’ a complete rip-off of her own song ‘Kings & Queens,’ which was itself inspired by Bonnie Tyler.
Despite its slightly underwhelming second half, ‘Barbie’ boasts a diverse array of sounds paying homage to the iconic Mattel character. The soundtrack has its highs and lows, showcasing both wonderful moments and some that miss the mark. In the end, it proves that even in Barbie Land, not everything is perfect.