Barbie World: The Barbie Soundtrack and Some of Our Favorite Featured Artists
If you've watched television, gone to the movies, or scrolled through social media in the last year or so, you'd already know; it's Barbie's world, we're just living in it. Greta Gerwig's Barbie hits screens July 21st, a film projected to be a smash hit, bringing audiences into a live-action Barbie Land for the first time with an impressive ensemble cast bringing the hot pink setting and story to life.
Of course, a film of this magnitude needs a soundtrack to match. Gerwig tapped veteran producer Mark Ronson to produce a soundtrack album of entirely original music, featuring megastars like Lizzo, Nicki Minaj, and Tame Impala, to name a few. As we eagerly await the film's release, we decided to take a look at Barbie's soundtrack, as well as our favorite vinyl records by some of the artists featured.
Let's start off with the soundtrack album, itself. Barbie: The Album was curated and written over the course of a year, as Mark Ronson took his time to assemble a team of artists that could truly do justice to the film's nature. Nicki Minaj, herself a lifelong Barbie lover, and Ice Spice team up for the film's theme, "Barbie World," a rework of Aqua's 1990s hit, "Barbie Girl." The soundtrack moves between genre, with from Dua Lipa's disco-inspired "Dance the Night" to Billie Eilish's emotional "What Was I Made For?" and of course, star Ryan Gosling's hilarious "I'm Just Ken." Barbie: The Album is an instant classic in terms of film soundtracks, one that will find itself in "best soundtrack" lists for years to come.
If there's anything we can count on, it's Lizzo's relentless positivity and ability to drop banger after banger. Her 2022 album, Special is evidence of that, as she delivered hits like "About Damn Time" and the eponymous self-worth anthem, "Special." Lizzo is a rare talent, able to somehow blend elements of traditional R&B, pop, hip-hop, and even classical flute. She kicks off Barbie with "Pink," which serves as an apt descriptor for and introduction to Barbie Land.
Dua Lipa is a throwback pop star and treats us to a throwback, disco-inspired tune in "Dance the Night," a song heavily featuring a string section that would sound at home in the disco craze of the late '70s. On Future Nostalgia, she explores her traditional pop background, with her vocal chops carrying a record defined by electronica and club playability. The album contains the smash hit, "Levitating," showing off fun, chromatic vocal runs and leaving fans wondering what she has planned for the future.
As stated above, there was perhaps nobody better to take on Barbie's lead single than Nicki Minaj, a genuine devotee of the iconic doll. Minaj, one of the biggest rappers of the last decade, offered up Queen in 2018, featuring the hit "Chun-Li" and serving up her typical brand of hip-hop, R&B, and pop perfection. Minaj currently has fans waiting on baited breath for her next release, Pink Friday 2, a sequel to her 2010 debut and her first album in five years, set to release on November 17th.
And who better to collaborate with Nicki on the film's theme than Ice Spice? Ice Spice has experienced a meteoric rise in the last year, gaining popularity on Tik-Tok with "Munch (Feelin' U)." She followed that up with her debut EP, Like..?, a release dripping with Bronx hip-hop attitude. Ice Spice was the one who approached Nicki about the Barbie collaboration, describing Nicki as a tremendous influence on her burgeoning career.
Tame Impala's brand of eclectic psychedelia may not immediately scream "Barbie," but you know what? Why not? Part of the film involves Barbie and Ken journeying from Barbie Land to our world, and that's where Tame Impala comes in with "Journey to the Real World." Lonerism features Kevin Parker at his best, leaning heavily on synthesizers and poppier vocals than previous releases, blending those elements with psychedelic vibes. Tame Impala celebrated Lonerism's 10th anniversary in 2022, releasing a special edition record featuring a full album's worth of demos.
With Charli XCX having established herself as one of the more inventive pop stars of the day, Crash represented an opportunity to flex her more traditional pop star muscles. While Charli jokingly described it as her "sell-out record," Crash instead combines elements of '80s pop standards with Charli's signature hyperpop style. Her contribution to the Barbie soundtrack is "Speed Drive," an energetic, danceable road trip bop.
Sam Smith had made their career as the go-to name in blue-eyed soul, with a resume that includes a James Bond film theme and multiple Grammy Awards. Gloria, however, represents a new direction for the singer, as they embraced a more pop-tinged tone while maintaining their signature R&B vocal stylings. Smith took over the world with the single "Unholy," a collaboration with Kim Petras that nabbed the duo another Grammy.
One of R&B's best young voices, Khalid began writing and producing music as a teenager, navigating the Soundcloud landscape and culminating with his first album, American Teen at just 19 years old. He followed that up with Free Spirit, a radio-friendly, pop driven album that focuses on the lyrics. Khalid's songwriting ability is the highlight of the record, especially on tracks like "Better." Khalid lends his silky smooth vocal tone to "Silver Platter" on the Barbie soundtrack, as we await a release date for his third record, Everything is Changing.
Fans were elated when Billie Eilish was announced as Barbie's first surprise artist, dropping her single "What Was I Made For?" ahead of the film's release. Eilish's breathy vocals take us through the emotional track, a deeply personal journey explored through an inventive music video. Eilish mourns the person who "knew what she was made for," expressing that she no longer knows who she is, but remains hopeful that she will find that purpose again. The song feels like something of an epilogue to her sophomore release, Happier Than Ever, as she prepares to move into the next phase of her already impressive career.