The Big Picture
- Barbie: The Album topped the charts and earned a Grammy nomination, with Ryan Gosling’s “I’m Just Ken” being a pivotal track.
- Director Greta Gerwig initially planned for Barbie to have only two songs, but songwriters, Mark Ronson and Andrew Wyatt, pushed for an expanded soundtrack.
- Ken’s song, “I’m Just Ken,” became an important piece of the Barbie film’s score, and despite limited recording time, Ryan Gosling delivered a passionate performance.
Barbie was not only the biggest film of the year, but the music from the film topped the charts as well. Barbie: The Album showcased various songs by Lizzo, Dua Lipa, and Billie Eilish and earned a Grammy nomination. However, according to Barbie’s songwriters, Mark Ronson and Andrew Wyatt, Ryan Gosling’s “I’m Just Ken” would be the most pivotal track, according to their interview with The Hollywood Reporter.
The initial plan director Greta Gerwig wanted was for Barbie to have only two songs for the film. One would become Dua Lipa’s “Dance the Night” and Gosling’s battling Ken ballad. Ronson shared, “It was never in the script [that] Ryan was going to sing. It was just like, ‘If we’re going to have Barbie’s perfect day song, we need a song from Ken’s point of view.’” This changed, though, when they realized they needed to do more. Gerwig took their initial Ken song and looped it for 11 minutes to score the Ken dance fight. Ronson and Wyatt realized they wanted to do more, not just for Ken but for the entire album.
Ronson and Wyatt took it upon themselves to push for an expanded Barbie soundtrack. While challenging for the duo, faced with demanding hours and long nights, it was “a bit of professional pride” on the line for them. Wyatt shared, “We would write a scene four or five or six times to just keep throwing versions of it out, saying, ‘This is not quite good enough, we’re not really bringing you to tears in this moment.’ And there sometimes would be the directive from Greta that would be like, ‘Yeah, I want people to feel emotional in this moment.’” Ronson joked that it wasn’t good enough if the two of them weren’t crying while writing it.
Ryan Gosling’s Professionalism Made It Possible to Record “I’m Just Ken” in a Few Hours
As the Barbie soundtrack took shape, the two kept returning to Ken’s song, putting it at the core of their creation and the score. Ronson explained, “And that’s even where we started to work out some of the little themes that come back in the score. It was such a movement that took you through the real world, through Mattel, through the battle, to the pink courtroom sequence, [all of] which was originally inside the Ken song.” For being such an important piece, it is interesting that “I’m Just Ken” had only hours to record in the studio. Ronson praised Gosling’s professionalism and passion in the short time frame, saying Gosling gave “every inch of his body” to the performance. “It’s such a personal, weird thing, like meeting somebody for the first time and then recording a vocal. It’s all these emotional things. You want to put the person so at ease, but you’re also aware that the clock is ticking.”
Barbie would go on to be the highest-grossing film of the year. A significant piece of that success would be its stellar soundtrack. Ronson recalled the importance of his work, saying, “I was just so in love with the movie and all the characters and the performances… We just didn’t want to let the film down.”
You can watch part of “I’m Just Ken” below.
Barbie suffers a crisis that leads her to question her world and her existence.
- Release Date
- July 21, 2023
- Greta Gerwig
- Margot Robbie, Simu Liu, Ryan Gosling, Helen Mirren, Ariana Greenblatt
- 114 minutes
- Main Genre
- Noah Baumbach, Greta Gerwig
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