This entire Barbie promo cycle, and really his entire existence, has branded Ken as just some guy. But he isn’t just some guy — he’s Ken. And in the latest exclusive clip from the film, out July 22, he’s Ryan Gosling performing a giant Eighties power ballad with Slash on guitar alongside a legion of Kens standing up for their right to be an accessory with some semblance of a personality. “I just don’t know who I am without you,” he cries to Barbie in the clip, who tries to assure him that he’s special as Ken, too, only for him to remind her: “But it’s Barbie and Ken. There is no just Ken.”
Not with that attitude there isn’t. Incredibly blonde and impossibly ripped, Ken pulls himself together and finds some value in himself through words of self-affirmation. “I’m just Ken and I’m enough/And I’m great at doing stuff,” he sings. And he is great at stuff, like his job which we recently learned is not surfer, or lifeguard, but actually just beach.
By the end of the song, Ken knows that he’s enough as he is, but he still hasn’t figured out how to get Barbie to see that, too. To be fair, the film’s entire premise is that Barbie is having something of an existential crisis, so pardon her if applauding Ken for being hot and good at the beach isn’t at the top of her to-do list.
When he catches her from afar at the big blowout party she throws, it’s at the moment he’s singing: “No matter what I do/I’m always number two/no one knows how hard I try.” And sure, in that split second, it looks like Barbie is having a great time and couldn’t care less about where he is or what he’s doing at her party. But, again, to be fair, this is the same dance party that she inadvertently derails by asking mid-dance break if anyone else ever thinks about dying. Cut her some slack, Ken.
“Just Ken” was penned for the Barbie soundtrack by executive music producer Mark Ronson and Andrew Wyatt, who we now have to thank for this shockingly perfect but also ridiculous vocal performance from Gosling. “I don’t read a lot of scripts, but it was just everything I want in a movie,” Ronson recently told Rolling Stone. “I was like, ‘If I don’t get this gig, this is gonna be my favorite movie of the year.’ ”