Barbie Girl

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For the Barbie doll brand, see Barbie.
"Barbie Girl"
Single by Aqua
from the album Aquarium
Released 14 May 1997
Format CD single, 7" single, 12" single, cassette[1]
Recorded 1997
Genre Bubblegum dance
Length 3:16
Label Universal Music Denmark, MCA (US)
Writer(s)
  • Johnny Mosegaard Pedersen
  • Karsten Dahlgaard
Producer(s)
  • Johnny Jam
  • Delgado
  • Claus Norreen
  • Søren Rasted
Aqua singles chronology
"My Oh My"
(1997)
"Barbie Girl"
(1997)
"Doctor Jones"
(1997)
Music sample

"Barbie Girl" is a song by the Danish-Norwegian dance-pop group Aqua. It was released in May 1997 as their third single overall, and the first United Kingdom release, it is included on the album Aquarium. The song was written by Johnny Mosegaard Pedersen and Karsten Dahlgaard[2][3] after the group saw an exhibit on kitsch culture.

The song topped the charts worldwide, particularly in European countries such as the UK, where it was a number-one hit for three weeks. It was also on top of the charts in Australia for the same length of time, and debuted and peaked at No. 7 on the US Billboard Hot 100 on 6 September 1997 and it remains Aqua's biggest hit single in the US to date, and their only one to reach the top 20 of the Billboard Hot 100. It is Aqua's most popular work. The song became the subject of the controversial lawsuit Mattel v. MCA Records.

History[edit]

The lyrics of the song are about Barbie and Ken, the dolls made by Mattel. Both the song and its music video feature Lene Nystrøm as Barbie and René Dif as Ken. As such, the lyrics drew the ire of Barbie's corporate owners, and a lawsuit was filed by Mattel.

A footnote on the back of the Aquarium CD case precisely stated that "The song 'Barbie Girl' is a social comment and was not created or approved by the makers of the doll."

The song was performed as the interval act in the Eurovision Song Contest 2001.

Reception[edit]

The song was voted the fourth "Best Number One of All Time" in a VH1 poll, and was featured in spot No. 32 on VH1's "Most Awesomely Bad Songs... Ever" countdown. In an unrelated VH1 countdown, VH1's 100 Greatest One-Hit Wonders, it was featured at #88.

In 2007, Rolling Stone named "Barbie Girl" as one of the 20 Most Annoying Songs.[4] But in 2007, MuchMoreMusic featured the song at No. 27 on the list of the 50 Guilty Pleasures. In 2009, Same Difference voted it No. 2 in their Ultimate Cheese-Fest Top 20 on 4Music. Five years before, Blender magazine voted it at No. 33, as one of the 50 Worst Songs Ever.[5] In September 2010, Matthew Wilkening of AOL Radio ranked the song at No. 5 on the list of the 100 Worst Songs Ever, stating that "Paris Hilton was 16 years old when this [song] came out. We're not blaming Aqua Girls entirely. We're just saying..."[6] In 2011, Rolling Stone readers voted it the number one most annoying song of the 1990s.[7] The song was even included in a WatchMojo.com countdown for the Top 10 Most Ridiculous 1990s Music Videos.[8]

Sales[edit]

"Barbie Girl" has sold more than 8 million copies worldwide.[9] It has sold 1.79 million copies in the United Kingdom as of November 2012, making it the thirteenth best-selling single in the UK.[10]

Music video[edit]

The music video, which was played repeatedly on MTV, was directed by Peder Pedersen and Peter Stenbæk.

Controversy[edit]

Main article: Mattel v. MCA Records

On December 2000, toy manufacturer Mattel sued MCA Records, Aqua's record label. Mattel claimed that "Barbie Girl" violated their trademark and turned her into a sex object, referring to her as a "Blonde Bimbo".[11] They alleged the song had violated their copyrights and trademarks of Barbie, and that its lyrics had tarnished the reputation of their trademark and impinged on their marketing plan. Aqua claimed that Mattel injected their own meanings into the song's lyrics and MCA Records was not about to let their hit single be suppressed without a fight. They contested Mattel's claims and countersued for defamation after Mattel had likened MCA to a bank robber.[12]

The lawsuit filed by Mattel was dismissed by the lower courts, and this dismissal was upheld, though Mattel took their case up to the Supreme Court of the United States, but that appeal was later rejected. In 2002, a Court of Appeals ruled the song was protected as a parody[13] under the trademark doctrine of nominative use and the First Amendment to the United States Constitution; the judge Alex Kozinski also threw out the defamation lawsuit that Aqua's record company filed against Mattel, concluding his ruling: "The parties are advised to chill."[14] The case was dismissed, and in the process, it garnered lots of media attention for the song and the band.

In 2009, Mattel released a series of advertisements and a promotional music video of the song,[15] with modified lyrics, as part of a new marketing strategy brought in to revive sales.[16] Mattel also uses the song in its product Barbie Shopping Time.

Cover versions and parodies[edit]

The song has been covered by several artists throughout years, including U.S. electric duo Velva Blu,[17] Brazilian singer Kelly Key (in Portuguese, titled "Sou a Barbie Girl" ["I'm the Barbie Girl"] as her tenth single on 15 April 2005 ; the CD maxi contains four versions of the song: radio edit, extended version, DJ Malboro mix and club remix), Samanda (2007, peaked at No. 26 in the UK singles Chart), Rob Mayth (2006, released as single ;[18] in summer 2006, German Eurodance project Bangbros played live the remix of this version in a DJ set), Andrea featuring Sergio (Eurobeat cover for Super Eurobeat Vol. 199 ~Collaboration of Eurobeat~), Electric Chairs (2001, melancholy and down-tempo version). Other covers have been performed by bands Home Grown, My Favorite Band (MFB), Mars Moles and Ben l'Oncle Soul. An Easy listening version also exists by Axel Boys Quartet (1999) which was featured in a Dior television ad.

There are also many parodies of the song, notable made by The Dog House (a "gay" version in which Barbie is insulted behind her back by Garrett and Raoul with gratuitous words because they pine for Ken, however the conclusion of the song sees Barbie approach the pair who proceed to assault her and run off. This song is featured on their 2000 album, How Many People Must Get Dissed?), German duo Lynne & Tessa (a lip-synched internet video of the song, May 2006), British Indian comedy sketch show Goodness Gracious Me (titled "Punjabi Girl" both in the radio series and later on television), Ome Henk (Dutch song "Neem Een Ander in de Maling (Barbie Girl)", WPLJ (entitled "Jersey Girl", using stereotypes of Jersey girls as the basis for the whole song). In 2000, in India, a parody of this song "Chalu girl" was published by Times Music in the album "PatelScope I" by musician Devang Patel.

Jessica of Girls' Generation covered this song as her solo performance during the first Asian concert tour Girls' Generation 1st Asia Tour: Into the New World.

Mattel in 2009–2010 used an edit of the song as the 'theme song' of Barbie.

In 2010, It was used in Just Dance: Summer Party.

In the Family Guy episode "Bill and Peter's Bogus Journey," president Bill Clinton is seen singing and dancing to "Barbie Girl" while playing Dance Dance Revolution.

HBO comedy series Mr. Show with Bob and David did a parody of the song called "Party Girl" in the episode "Life is Precious and God and the Bible."

The Swedish artist Loke Nyberg did a new version of this song for the Swedish radio show Morgonpasset. He interprets the song as criticism of today's beauty ideals.[19]

In 2012, the song was parodied in an Australian lamb advertising campaign, relying on the Australian use of the term "barbie" to refer to the outdoor barbecue popularly held in Australia. The advertisement starred Melissa Tkautz and Sam Kekovich [20]

The song was referred to in the 2013 set-up of the musical We Will Rock You.

In 2013, Ludacris sampled the song in his single Party Girls featuring Wiz Khalifa, Jeremih and Cashmere Cat

Track listings[edit]

These are the formats and track listings of major single releases of "Barbie Girl".[1]

Credits[edit]

  • Written by Johnny Mosegaard Pedersen and Karsten Dahlgaard
  • Performed by Norreen, Rasted
  • Vocals by Nystrøm, Dif
  • Hair and make-up by Fjodor Øxenhave
  • Styling by Aqua, Bjarne Lindgreen
  • Artwork by Peter Stenbæk
  • Photo by Robin Skoldborg
  • Produced, arranged and mixed by Norreen, Jam, Delgado, Rasted

Release history[edit]

Country Release date
Europe 14 May 1997 (1997-05-14)
United Kingdom 1 September 1997 (1997-09-01)
United States

Charts and sales[edit]

Successions[edit]

Order of precedence
Preceded by
"When Susannah Cries" by Espen Lind
Norwegian VG-lista number-one single
30 May 1997 – 6 June 1997
Succeeded by
"Bailando" by Paradisio
Preceded by
"I'll Be Missing You" by Puff Daddy featuring Faith Evans and 112
Swedish number-one single
5 September 1997 – 19 September 1997
Succeeded by
"Candle in the Wind 1997" by Elton John
Preceded by
"Leven na de dood" by Freek de Jonge and Robert Jan Stips
Dutch Top 40 number-one single
20 September 1997
Preceded by
"Men in Black" by Will Smith
New Zealand RIANZ Singles Chart number-one single
14 September 1997 – 21 September 1997
Succeeded by
"Tubthumping" by Chumbawamba
Preceded by
"I'll Be Missing You" by Puff Daddy featuring Faith Evans and 112
Italian FIMI number-one single
11 October 1997 – 15 November 1997
Succeeded by
"Breathe" by Midge Ure
Preceded by
"Spice up Your Life" by Spice Girls
UK Singles Chart number-one single
26 October 1997 – 15 November 1997
Succeeded by
"Perfect Day" by Various Artists
Preceded by
"Savoir aimer" by Florent Pagny
French SNEP number-one single
1 November 1997
Succeeded by
"Savoir aimer" by Florent Pagny
Preceded by
"Candle in the Wind 1997" by Elton John
Irish IRMA number-one single
25 October 1997 – 15 November 1997
Succeeded by
"Good Lookin' Woman" by Dustin the Turkey and Joe Dolan
Belgian (Flanders) number-one single
8 November 1997 – 10 January 1998
Succeeded by
"Torn" by Natalie Imbruglia
German Singles Chart number-one single
10 November 1997 – 15 December 1997
Succeeded by
"It's Like That" by Run–D.M.C. vs. Jason Nevins
European Hot 100 Singles number-one single
16 November 1997 – 25 January 1998
Succeeded by
"Together Again" by Janet Jackson
Australia ARIA number-one single
16 November 1997 – 7 December 1997
Succeeded by
"Tubthumping" by Chumbawamba
Swiss number-one single
30 November 1997 – 10 January 1998
Succeeded by
"Candle in the Wind 1997" by Elton John

References[edit]

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  2. ^ "AQUA Barbie Girl Lyrics". www.elyrics.net. Retrieved 2014-03-29. 
  3. ^ "Barbie Girl Songtext". www.songtexte.com. Retrieved 2014-03-29. 
  4. ^ "The 20 Most Annoying Songs". Rolling Stone. 2 July 2007. Retrieved 8 August 2007. 
  5. ^ [1][dead link]
  6. ^ Wilkening, Matthew (11 September 2010). "100 Worst Songs Ever – Part Five of Five". AOL Radio. Retrieved 25 December 2010. 
  7. ^ "Readers Poll: THe Worst Songs of the Nineties". Rolling Stone. 31 August 2011. Retrieved 2 September 2012. 
  8. ^ "Top 10 Ridiculous 1990s Music Videos". Youtube.com. Retrieved 2014-03-31. 
  9. ^ "Aqua's 'Barbie Girl': Worst Song of the '90s?". SodaHead.com. 7 September 2011. Retrieved 11 April 2012. 
  10. ^ a b Ami Sedghi (4 November 2012). "UK's million-selling singles: the full list". Guardian. Retrieved 4 November 2012. 
  11. ^ "Aqua Now Faces Lawsuit Over "Barbie Girl"". MTV News. 12 September 1997. Archived from the original on 10 June 2007. Retrieved 8 August 2007. 
  12. ^ "Supreme Court rejects ugly fight over Barbie doll". CNN. 27 January 2003. Archived from the original on 27 March 2007. Retrieved 8 August 2007. 
  13. ^ Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, Inc., 510 U.S. 569 (1994)
  14. ^ "Barbie loses battle over bimbo image". BBC News. 25 July 2002. Archived from the original on 6 July 2007. Retrieved 8 August 2007. 
  15. ^ "The Barbie Music Video". Mattel. Retrieved 15 October 2012. 
  16. ^ Elliott, Stuart (26 August 2009). "Years Later, Mattel Embraces Barbie Girl". New York Times. Retrieved 11 July 2010. 
  17. ^ "Velva Blu - Barbie Girl (CD) at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2014-03-31. 
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  19. ^ [2][dead link]
  20. ^ "Eat Lamb This Australia Day". Retrieved 10 January 2012. 
  21. ^ "Barbie Girl [US 2 Tracks] - Aqua | Credits". AllMusic. 1997-08-19. Retrieved 2014-03-31. 
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External links[edit]