If, like most people, you’ve witnessed the protracted roll out of Greta Gerwig’s Barbie in real time, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this is the most amount of press any movie has ever had, ever. The film’s seemingly infinite marketing budget has seen numerous pink-carpet premieres, countless product tie-ins, and an actual, life-size Dreamhouse put on Airbnb in Malibu. But just when you thought there was nothing left to give, Gerwig and co come through with one final flourish on the day of the film’s release: Barbie The Album.
Of course, we’ve known about the album for a long time, but that didn’t make it feel any less special when the sprawling, 17-track record dropped this past midnight. Curated and executive produced by Mark Ronson, the album’s tracklist reads as a who’s who of current pop music, a star-studded event in its own right that rivals the film’s actual cast. Lead single “Dance The Night” is a disco dream by Dazed cover-starDua Lipa, and though some joyless music journos criticised it for sounding like a Future Nostalgia offcut, there’s really no harm in that. Future Nostalgia was a landmark pop album and it makes total sense for Ronson to transfer that sound to Barbieland, where Dua seems to fit in perfectly.
Elsewhere, Charli XCX’s career-long commitment to rap-singing about fast cars is further cemented on “Speed Drive”, produced by frequent collaborator Easyfun. “Ah Barbie, you're so fine, you're so fine you blow my mind/Jump into the driver's seat and put it into speed drive”, Charli sings on the chorus, that interpolation of Toni Basil’s “Mickey” a cornerstone of the track. Like this sample, Barbie is an album that leans heavy on the pop references, and is all the better for it. “Pink” by Lizzo is a direct riff on Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing”, k-pop group FIFTY FIFTY reinterpret Janet Jackson’s “Together Again” into “Barbie Dreams”, while GAYLE’s “butterflies” could literally be a Sleigh Bells song, with its noise pop chorus and Alexis Krauss-vocal. But of course, the pièce de résistance, the reference of all references, comes from Ice Spice and Nicki Minaj on “Barbie World”. Nicki Minaj, the OG Barbie, covering Aqua’s “Barbie Girl” on Barbie The Album? Give that marketing team a raise.
In other news, Ice Spice shares a deluxe edition of her debut project Like…?, Kode9 and Burial return to the fabric Originals label for a joint EP, while rap icon Nas drops his 17th studio album.