Lyric Analysis: Barbie Girl by Aqua

'Barbie Girl' - Aqua

Hiya Barbie
Hi Ken!
Do you want to go for a ride?
Sure Ken.
Jump in.

I’m struggling to understand why Barbie doesn’t drive her own Corvette.  I mean I’m assuming he’s telling her to jump in the Corvette, right?  What else would they drive - the camper?  Come on.  Don’t be sexist, Ken.  Move over and give her the keys.

I'm a Barbie girl, in a Barbie world
Life in plastic, it's fantastic.

Everything in Barbie world was plastic and it really was fantastic.  The camper with the little deck on top and the fold-down beds?  The Dream House?  With the elevator and pool?  Barbie had a helluva great lifestyle.

You can brush my hair, undress me everywhere.

“Boy, that escalated quickly. I mean that really got out of hand fast.”
It’s quite the leap from brushing hair to undressing in public, no?

Imagination, life is your creation.
Come on Barbie, let's go party!
I'm a Barbie girl, in a Barbie world
Life in plastic, it's fantastic.
You can brush my hair, undress me everywhere.
Imagination, life is your creation.

Barbie did live a very imaginative life.  Since her introduction in 1959, Barbie has been an aerobics instructor, an elementary school teacher, a doctor, a surgeon, a paratrooper, a US Marine Corps officer, a world peace ambassador, POTUS, a firefighter, a Canadian Mountie, a paleontologist, a flight attendant, a NASCAR driver, a chef, a hair dresser, an Olympic gymnast, a princess, a street rapper, a news anchor, and a cat burglar, among others.  Imagination is a powerful tool.  She’s done all this without aging a day or losing any of her fabulousness.

I'm a blond bimbo girl, in a fantasy world,
Dress me up, make it tight, I'm your dolly.

The controversy that swirls around Barbie, despite her multitudinous jobs and career-appropriate wardrobes, is that she’s an unrealistic size and terrible body role model for girls.  Barbie is certainly very specifically proportioned.  But in 2001 the Bratz dolls gave Barbie her first true competition in the sales market and instead of reaching a truce wherein both companies realized that making dolls with no waists and/or noses was hardly a feminist stride forward, the companies sued each other in ping-pong lawsuits over who stole trade secrets.  I assume at this time Barbie became a lawyer.  Then Bratz dolls disappeared to be replaced with Moxie Girlz.  The letter ‘s’ counter-sued for loss of employment.

You're my doll, rock'n'roll, feel the glamor in pink,
Kiss me here, touch me there, hanky panky.

You know, Ken, those are bold demands from a man with nothing between his legs.

You can touch,
you can play,
if you say "I'm always yours"

I wonder if she’s specially loyal to Earring Magic Ken or Sugar Daddy Ken?  

I'm a Barbie girl, in a Barbie world
Life in plastic, it's fantastic.
You can brush my hair, undress me everywhere.

Who didn’t undress her everywhere, though?  Confession time: my Barbies spent more time dressing and undressing than actually doing anything of value in the world.  I was more concerned with cycling them through a series of impossible outfits and frustrating shoes so they could drive in the Corvette than in actually maintaining the Dream House or camper.  

Imagination, life is your creation.
Come on Barbie, let's go party! (Ah ah ah yeah)
Come on Barbie, let's go party! (Oh oh)
Come on Barbie, let's go party! (Ah ah ah yeah)
Come on Barbie, let's go party! (Oh oh)

Interestingly, Mattel wasn’t a fan of this song.  Instead of partying, they sued MCA Records (Aqua’s recording company) for violating Barbie’s trademark and turning her into a sex object.  Ultimately in 2002 the song was determined to be a parody and the case was dismissed but not before Mattel took appeals all the way to the Supreme Court.

Make me walk, make me talk, do whatever you please,
I can act like a star, I can beg on my knees.

Barbie’s knees traditionally sort of clicked back and forth into arbitrary lock positions but kneeling was not one of the things they did.  It was physically impossible for Barbie to beg on her knees.  And even if she was being turned into a sex object by these lyrics, Mattel, Ken didn’t have anything down there for her to beg for.  We’re all adults here - let’s just call a spade a shovel.

Come jump in, bimbo friend, let us do it again,
Hit the town, fool around, let's go party

This was kind of Barbie’s life in my hands, really.  Except with a lot more clothes-changing in between “hitting the town” and “party”.  Also I didn’t have a Ken so she didn’t fool around much unless Optimus Prime was in town.

You can touch,
you can play,
If you say "I'm always yours"
You can touch,
you can play,
If you say "I'm always yours"

He might have said it but he didn’t do it.  Barbie and Ken actually split up in 2004 claiming that though their romance was at an end, they would remain friends.  Even after a revamped Ken launched in 2006 the pair remained platonic friends until Valentine’s Day 2011 when they officially got back together.  Mattel: taking things way too seriously since 1959.

Come on Barbie, let's go party! (Ah ah ah yeah)
Come on Barbie, let's go party! (Oh oh)
Come on Barbie, let's go party! (Ah ah ah yeah)
Come on Barbie, let's go party! (Oh oh)

This is an example of a sort of epimone repetition that is not a question.  It is employed, as epimone is designed to do, to stress a point.  Namely that Ken really wants to party, you guys.  How many times does he have to say it?

I'm a Barbie girl, in a Barbie world
Life in plastic, it's fantastic.
You can brush my hair, undress me everywhere.
Imagination, life is your creation.

Happy Birthday Barbie turned me into a truly frightful creation back in the day when I insisted that my mother allow me to get a copy of her haircut.  Despite copious amounts of photographic evidence to the contrary, I loved the cut and wore it proudly for much longer than was entirely sane.

I'm a Barbie girl, in a Barbie world
Life in plastic, it's fantastic.
You can brush my hair, undress me everywhere.
Imagination, life is your creation.
Come on Barbie, let's go party! (Ah ah ah yeah)
Come on Barbie, let's go party! (Oh oh)
Come on Barbie, let's go party! (Ah ah ah yeah)
Come on Barbie, let's go party! (Oh oh)

In 2009 Mattel, tired of licking their wounds, decided instead to co-opt this song and released a re-worded and re-recorded version to promote a new line of Barbies.  Party on, Barbie!  Party on, Ken!

Oh, I'm having so much fun!
Well Barbie, we are just getting started.

YOU HAVE NO IDEA, KEN!  2015 Barbies are finally getting flat feet.  FLAT FEET, KEN!  Beat that, you smooth-crotched lothario.

Oh, I love you Ken.

Ken: the Rio Pacheco/Ned Nickerson of Barbie’s world.  She doesn’t really need you, dude.  She just keeps you around for PR and I guess to clean the camper.

- Corinne Simpson