I didn’t really know the lyrics to Aqua’s dance hit Barbie Girl until today when I watched the video. Both the lyrics and the video crack me up. I love the way that the main verses make repeated obvious reference to sexual activities, like undressing, kissing, touching, even blatant “hanky panky,” but the chorus insists that Barbie and Ken’s main activity is partying. Yeah right…the video demonstrates that Rene Dif’s Ken is trying to get into Lene Nystrom’s Barbie’s pants.
I also like Nystrom’s delivery. She sings in a simpering falsetto that accentuates the non-sexual aspect of all the proposed activities. In fact, her Barbie seems more interested in stereotypes of romantic love [“You can touch / You can play / If you say / I’m always yours”] and has very little awareness of the double entendres of her lines. The closest she comes is when she says, “I can act like a star / I can beg on my knees,” whereupon she looks over her sunglasses with an expression that could possibly be knowing or conspiratorial if her character weren’t so blithely uninterested in sexual objectification for the rest of the video. Ken’s the one rolling his eyes and winking at the audience, while Barbie is busy petting the dog, roller skating, and thinking of true love. She’s illustrating the interpretation of doll qua child’s toy, and he’s illustrating doll qua sex toy. Of course, the whole song’s constant emphasis on contrafactuality [“Imagination / Life is your creation,” “…In a fantasy world,” “I can act like a star”] points out that both concepts of dolls are overheated stereotypes created by heterosexual dudes who are not interested in relating to actual, real, complex women, so it’s a sly critique masquerading as a poppy dance hit.
I like smart songs about dolls!