The wildly popular song, Barbie Girl by Aqua came out 20 years ago on May 14, 1997, and instantly became a sensational hit.
For years we thought, well, how dirty could a song about Barbie really be? Turns out, quite dirty. Little girls grew up singing this song, and we really need to address how problematic it actually is.
First she talks about how amazing her plastic life is, which for a Barbie is valid, I guess.
I’m a Barbie girl in the Barbie world Life in plastic, it’s fantastic!
But then comes the more disturbing stuff. Because when we thought they were singing “dress me anywhere,” the lyrics actually read this:
You can brush my hair, undress me everywhere. Imagination, life is your creation.
Hold up, it gets worse.
I’m a blond bimbo girl in a fantasy world. Dress me up, make it tight, I’m your dolly.
It gets very sexual, very quick. Especially when the song speaks about touching and ‘playing’.
Kiss me here, touch me there, hanky panky… You can touch, you can play, if you say, “I’m always yours.”
Not only is the word ‘bimbo’ repeated many a time, the song also takes a very sexist tangent that makes Barbie sound like nothing but a puppet, who’d do anything Ken (or the person the song is directed at) says.
Make me walk, make me talk, do whatever you please I can act like a star, I can beg on my knees.
To which, surprise surprise, Ken replies:
Come jump in, bimbo friend, let us do it again. Hit the town, fool around, let’s go party.
So there are multiple things wrong with this song, from the blatantly sexist lyrics to the fact that it targeted young girls who shouldn’t have been exposed to something like this.
But now that we’ve established why the song is inappropriate, let’s talk about how Mattel, the American MNC and corporate owners of the ‘Barbie’ brand sued MCA Records, Aqua’s recording company, for the song!
Allegedly, they thought that the song violated the Barbie trademark and “turned her into a sex object”. Mattel stated that these lyrics tarnished the reputation of their trademark doll, and honestly we see where they were coming from.
Revisit the song, and this time maybe pay a little more attention to the lyrics.
Going to keep the little kids off this song now.