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Review: ‘Barbie The Album’

The soundtrack to the new Greta Gerwig movie is full of big names and pop hits.
Image by Graphic by Ava Weinreis
The number of songs on the album should not be a deterrent from sitting and listening to the songs.

With the release of Greta Gerwig’s new movie “Barbie” comes the star-studded soundtrack “Barbie The Album,” produced by “Uptown Funk” and “Valerie” producer, Mark Ronson. 

The album opens with Lizzo’s “Pink”, which (as stated in the song) stands for pretty, intelligent, never sad and cool. Its over-produced pop sound sets the stage perfectly for the rest of the album. The soundtrack then continues with “Dance The Night”, a carefree dance song by Dua Lipa. 

Next on the tracklist is “Barbie World”, a collaboration between rappers Ice Spice and Nicki Minaj sampling Aqua’s 1997 hit, “Barbie Girl.” Minaj brings a sophisticated flow to the track, while rookie Ice Spice’s verse seems to fall apart at the end. 

Next is a hard-hitting bubblegum bass song by Charli XCX which name-drops Voltaire and interpolates another past pop hit “Mickey” by Toni Basil. Following this is a reggaeton track from up-and-coming KAROL G, featuring Aldo Ranks.

The album then switches from the female-dominated ensemble with Sam Smith’s “Man I Am.” Starting the song with “This one’s for the boys,” this track is a satirical take on Ken’s masculinity in Barbie world. 

Tame Impala then has a short interlude with his minute-and-28-second “Journey To The Real World” featuring a similar disco sound to his 2020 album “The Slow Rush.” Ryan Gosling also has his voice heard on piano ballad “I’m Just Ken”.

HAIM, along with ex-Vampire Weekend member Rostam on production, brings a more solemn sound to the album with the song “Home,” while still maintaining its pop core. Billie Eilish continues this melancholic trend with stripped-down, “What Was I Made For?”

The “Barbie” soundtrack is a pure pop portfolio. At 17 songs, the tracklist seems daunting, yet its 44-minute runtime makes it an easily digestible album. Near the end the songs get somewhat weaker than the rest, but the somber songs in the middle allow for a break from the bright upbeat dance tracks.

“Barbie The Album” is a good gauge for the current state of pop music in 2023. It has its share of mainstream artists with top 40 hits (Lizzo, Dua Lipa, Sam Smith), artists who have seen success largely from internet buzz (Ice Spice, PinkPanthress, Dominic Fike) along with artists often labeled “indie” or “alternative” while still having an extremely poppy sound (Haim, Billie Eilish, Tame Impala). 

The prominent tracks from the album are the songs from Charli XCX and KAROL G. Charli’s unique, hard-hitting production and earworm melodies stick out from the rest of the tracklist, while KAROL G’s modern reggaeton sound allows for the Latin pop genre to be heard in a more mainstream setting.

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