One of the most popular pop songs of the 90’s, Danish-Norwegian dance-pop group Aqua released “Barbie Girl” as their third single from their debut album studio “Aquarium “(1997). Written by all members of the band, it was based on an exhibit that Søren Rasted went to see on kitsch culture in Denmark, which featured the infamous Barbie dolls created by American toy company Mattel. It was voted NME’s award for Worst Single in 1998.
The lyrics of the track talk about both Barbie and Ken, and Barbie talking about she is a “blond bimbo girl in a fantasy world”, “dress me up, make me tight, I’m your dolly”. Due to the explicit nature of the song, and the detachment of innocence from Barbie and Ken, Mattel filed a lawsuit against MCA Records. They insisted that the group and the record label deliberately violated the Mattel trademark and name by turning Barbie into a sexual object. The case was dismissed and the song ruled as a parody.
The music video was released in 1997 and was directed by Peter Stenbæk and Peter Pedersen. It features band members in the music video, with Lene Nystrøm and René Dif as Ken. They are shown driving around a make believe world in a car, and Barbie getting her hair done and getting beauty makeovers. They all act very fake and stiff, like they are dolls themselves. The music video ends with the band having a party in a pink Barbie style house, with Ken accidentally tearing off Barbie’s arm. The music video was uploaded to the Aqua YouTube channel in August 2010, and has almost 600 million views.
Release Date: 14th May 1997
Songwriter/s: Søren Rasted, Claus Norreen, René Dif & Lene Nystrøm
Producer/s: Johnny Jam, Delgado, Søreb Rasted & Claus Norreen
Label/s: Universal / MCA
Music Video Release Date: 1997
Music Video Director/s: Peter Pedersen & Peter Stenbæk.
Chart Rankings, Certifications & Accolades: In its year of release, it went to #1 in Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Scotland and the UK. It received triple Platinum certification in Australia, Sweden and the UK. It went 4x Platinum in Belgium, Platinum in Austria, Germany and the Netherland and Switzerland. But, in France it received Diamond certification. The track was voted #4 in the VH1 poll “Best Number One of All Time”, #32 on VH1’s “Most Awesomely Bad Songs… Ever”, and #88 on VH1’s “100 Greatest One-Hit Wonders”. In 2007, Rolling Stone Magazine featured the track as one of the 20 Most Annoying Songs. In 2007, MuchMoreMusic put the song at #27 on their “50 Guilty Pleasures” list. In 2009, it was #2 on Same Difference’s list of “Ultimate Cheese Fest Top 20” on 4 Music. In 2004, Blender Magazine voted it as #33 as one of the “50 Worst Songs Ever”, in 2011 Rolling Stone voted it at #1 of one of the most annoying songs of the 1990’s.