Strictly Discs, Madison record store located at 1900 Monroe Street, recently hosted a sneak peek listening event for “Barbie The Album,” a record that celebrates girlhood, kitschiness, female courage and unity despite gender roles and expectations.
While the latest Hollywood rendition of Barbie features Margot Robbie as Barbie and Ryan Gosling as Ken, the original 1959 Barbie doll originated in Willows, Wisconsin — a fictional destination, but one Wisconsinites can take pride in.
Atlantic Records, Mattel and Warner Brothers brought Barbie back to her roots at Madison's Strictly Discs among a global array of record stores in Europe, Asia and Latin America for a global listening party, according to the "Barbie the Album" website. Fans of all ages were gifted emblems of Barbie, including heart-shaped pink sunglasses and Robbie's poster in a hot pink convertible.
Strictly Discs premiered the entirety of the Barbie soundtrack. The album contains 16 songs, including Tame Impala’s "Journey To The Real World," which encapsulates the almost eerie essence of Barbie leaving her disconnected fantasy world, "Blondie" from Dominick Fike, "Home" from HAIM, "Pink" from Lizzo, "Butterflies" from GALE, "Forever & Again" by The Kid LAROI, "Silver Platter" by Khalid, "WATITI" (feat. Aldo Ranks) by KAROL G and other songs are included on the album.
Although more popular 20-25 years ago, record labels use listening parties as a tactic to reach younger audiences, especially following the COVID-19 pandemic, a Strictly Discs employee said.
While streaming is a frequent choice for listening to music, the ”Barbie” soundtrack is special because it brings film soundtracks back onto vinyl and into homes. The album is its own entity on TikTok (@barbiethealbum), featuring celebrities on Barbie pink carpets praising album purchases and teasing music videos. Just as Barbie has a timeless impact on her multigenerational fanbase, “Barbie The Album” reminds audiences that music often makes the film and widens a film's impact off screen.
The new soundtrack and global listening parties target Generation Z and younger audiences. Composed of Gen Z favorites — such as Nicki Minaj, Charli XCX, Tame Impala, Billie Eilish, The Kid LAROI and Lizzo — “Barbie the Album” blends Barbie’s iconic pink persona and fashion with fan-favorite voices and genres, a prime example being Lizzo's "Pink." The album ranges from pop to rap and rock and captures Barbie's emotions as she sets out to discover her purpose.
Barbie is a fictional character. Yet, this album is a flexible conversation on female struggles and on gender roles far deeper than its seemingly peppy nature. Billie Eilish's song, “What Was I Made For?” pinpoints the lingering questioning of one's worth and the daunting realization that happiness and perfection are unrealistic and saddening standards for women in the real world. Aimed at Gen Z, who are at the height of launching careers and lives of their own, themes of self-discovery and facing fears are relevant and touching.
GAYLE's "butterflies," is an exciting and empowering rock track embodying metamorphosis, leaving a "box" and realizing that "the plastic's gonna melt if you're the one to make it hot." Even Gosling's ballad, "I'm Just Ken," highlights the realization that men can be just friends instead of the romantic heroes in women's lives. The question, "Is it my destiny to live and die a life of blonde fragility?" is a reminder of the universal longing to be loved more than aesthetics and tropes.
In the Barbie herself, Nicki Minaj, and Ice Spice's music video for "Barbie World" (with Aqua), the two are depicted in the form of Barbies in the Barbie dreamhouse, wrapping about how all Barbies are "it girls."
Charli XCX’s “Speed Drive”is an electro pop song celebrating the supportive essence of Barbie and friendship, and PinkPantheress's "Angel" blends a country tune with her signature pop sounds.
In Dua Lipa's track, "Dance the Night," her infamous, glittery aesthetic is combined with a tremendous set to create a Barbie pink fantasy. Pop anthems coincide well throughout the duration of the album.
Ultimately, “Barbie the Album” is a blend of musical genius, fun, and empowerment.
All of the “Barbie the Album” tracks are listed on the Strictly Discs website, which has the hot pink record available for order.