When seven-time Grammy winner Mark Ronson was approached by filmmakers Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach to help write the music for Barbie, his connection to one particular character was instant, and “I’m Just Ken” lyrics for Ryan Gosling were born.

“You really fall in love with this hapless, but immediately sympathetic figure,” Ronson told Vanity Fair. “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.”

Ryan Gosling, Margot Robbie in Barbie

Birkenstocks in Barbie Movie

When he wrote the words to “I’m Just Ken”, Ronson was apprehensive about how the lyrics “Is it my destiny to live and die a life of blond fragility?” might be received by Gerwig and Baumbach—and he certainly didn’t picture Gosling singing them. “When I sent the demo, I kind of mumbled that line, because I was like, if they don’t like it, I don’t want Greta and Noah to think that I’m trying to provide the funny,” Ronson continued. But Gerwig loved the words so much that she sent them to Gosling, who in turn was so enamored with the words that he wanted to sing them himself.

Ryan Gosling, Margot Robbie in Barbie
Ryan Gosling, Margot Robbie in BarbieWarner Bos. /Courtesy Everett Collection

Gosling was a Mouseketeer, so Ronson wasn’t worried about the actor’s ability to sing (he’d also shown off his vocal chops in La La Land) but Gosling’s “subdued baritone” gave Ronson pause. It turns out Ronson had nothing to worry about. “He really got [that] it had to walk this line of not being funny or parody,” he says. “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!” Ronson decided to “take it all the way” by bringing in Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash and new Foo Fighters drummer Josh Freese—who replaced the late Taylor Hawkins—to play on the track. 

Barbie The Album features tracks from an incredible lineup of artists including Fifty Fifty, Charli XCX, Nicki Minaj, Ice Spice, PinkPantheress, Karol G, Dua Lipa, Lizzo, Ava Max, Dominic Fike, Khalid, The Kid LAROI, Tame Impala, HAIM and GAYLE.

The 2023 film has been in the works since before December 2016 when comedian Amy Schumer was originally attached to star as Barbie. She later reportedly backed out due to creative differences, per The Hollywood Reporter. Then, in 2019, Robbie was confirmed to be taking on the lead role of Barbie. “It comes with a lot of baggage,” Robbie told Variety in July 2023 of playing the iconic doll. “And a lot of nostalgic connections. But with that comes a lot of exciting ways to attack it. People generally hear Barbie and think, ‘I know what that movie is going to be,’ and then they hear that Greta Gerwig is writing and directing it, and they’re like, ‘Oh, well, maybe I don’t.’”

Gosling, meanwhile, got real about playing Ken at CinemaCon 2023 in April. “I have to be honest: I only knew Ken from afar before now. I didn’t know Ken from within. I doubted my Kenergy,” he said. “I didn’t see it, but Margot and Greta conjured this out of me somehow. One day I was bleaching my hair, shaving my legs and wearing bespoke pink outfits, and rollerblading down Venice Beach.”

“I’m Just Ken” lyrics

Doesn’t seem to matter what I do
I’m always number two
No one knows how hard I tried, oh-oh, I
I have feelings that I can’t explain
They’re drivin’ me insane
All my life been so polite
But I’ll sleep alone tonight

‘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?
I’m just Ken
Where I see love, she sees a friend
What will it take for her to see the man behind the tan and fight for me?

[Verse 2]
I wanna know what’s there to know
To feel the real thing
Is it a crime if I’m hot when I’m in my feelings?
And is my goal finally here or am I dreaming?
I’m no dreamer

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Can you feel the Ken-energy?
Feels so real, I guarantee
Can you feel the Ken-energy?
Feels so real, I guarantee

I’m just Ken
Anywhere else I’d be a ten
Is it my destiny to live and die a life of blonde fragility?
I’m just Ken
Where I see love, she sees a friend
What will it take for her to see the man behind the tan and fight for me?

I’m just Ken and I’m enough
And I’m great at doing stuff
So, hey, check me out, yeah, I’m just Ken
My name’s Ken and so am I
And the heavy haired mind
So hey, check me out, I’m just Ken
Baby, I’m just Ken

Billie Eilish wrote “What I Was Made For” for the film and directed the accompanying music video. She explained to Apple Music’s Zane Low the process of writing the song: “We truly sat down and Finneas started playing piano, and… those first couple lyrics, “I used to float, now I just fall down,” just came right out…”I used to know, but I’m not sure now what I was made for.”

She continued, “The start of writing this song, the first day of writing, Finneas and I, especially me because it’s from my perspective, we were purely only thinking about Barbie. I did not think about myself once in the writing process.” She then went on to say was so focused on the movie. “I was purely inspired by this movie and this character and the way I thought she would feel, and wrote about that.”

Billie said it was one of the most incredible experiences of her life. “The next week I was playing it in the car all day and playing it for everybody. And I was like, “This is exactly how I feel. And I didn’t even mean to be saying it.” It was truly the trippiest thing I’ve ever experienced in my life. I was like, oh, I absolutely was writing about myself, but I was thinking about myself from a third person. And I was thinking about myself objectively, which also made me feel really connected to her, me.”

Barbie The Album tracklist

1. Lizzo – Pink
2. Dua Lipa – Dance The Night
3. Nicki Minaj & Ice Spice – Barbie World (with Aqua)
4. Charli XCX – Speed Drive
5. KAROL G – WATATI (feat. Aldo Ranks)
6. Sam Smith – Man I Am
7. Tame Impala – Journey To The Real World
8. Ryan Gosling – I’m Just Ken
9. Dominic Fike – Hey Blondie
10. HAIM – Home
11. Billie Eilish – What Was I Made For?
12. The Kid LAROI – Forever & Again
13. Khalid – Silver Platter
14. PinkPantheress – Angel
15. GAYLE – butterflies
16. Ava Max – Choose Your Fighter

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