Watch Ryan Gosling Channel His Kenergy into the Making of “I’m Just Ken”
Although Ryan Gosling’s Ken may lament his “life of blond fragility” during his showcase song in the Barbie movie, there’s no denying that “I’m Just Ken”—a power ballad about being the overlooked accessory to Margot Robbie’s Barbie—is second to none.
The song, packed into a soundtrack stuffed with awards-worthy original tracks from the likes of Billie Eilish, Dua Lipa, and Lizzo, has reached the Billboard Hot 100 chart, bolstering what has already become a box office juggernaut for Warner Bros. On Monday, Atlantic Records released a behind-the-scenes look at “I’m Just Ken,” featuring footage of Gosling rehearsing the choreography and recording his vocals in the studio.
Footage includes guest appearances from fellow Kens Simu Liu, Scott Evans, and Ncuti Gatwa, as well co-writer and director Greta Gerwig, who can be seen breaking into laughter at multiple points over Gosling’s exaggerated rendition. Executive producer Mark Ronson, the song’s co-writer/co-producer Andrew Wyatt and and Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash, who plays on the song, can also be seen working to craft the music.
“You really fall in love with this hapless, but immediately sympathetic figure,” Ronson told Vanity Fair of Ken in Gerwig and Noah Baumbach’s Barbie script. “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.”
There was no assurance that Gosling, who has said Ken’s characterization is an homage to his younger self, would perform the finished song in the movie. But after hearing Ronson’s track, Gosling asked to sing it onscreen. Thus a key scene was altered to lead into the performance, Ken’s fur coat and all.
When Ronson flew to England to record Gosling’s vocals, as he told VF, the music producer figured he’d have to adjust the key to complement the actor’s “subdued baritone.” Instead, Gosling not only hit the notes, but made the power ballad all his own. “He really got [that] it had to walk this line of not being funny or parody,” Ronson said. “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!”
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