Which ‘Barbie’ Soundtrack Songs Could Win a Grammy or Oscar Award?

by info.vocallyrics@gmail.com

The “Barbie” film and soundtrack album are such an embarrassment of riches that an equally massive bounty of Grammy and Academy awards seems like a foregone conclusion. But such awards don’t just happen — it’s an intricate, laborious, precisely timed dance of official submissions, lobbying, advertising campaigns and (so we’ve heard) insider machinations less-than-lovingly known as “FYC,” i.e. For Your Consideration.

So, Atlantic Records, which released the Mark Ronson-helmed “Barbie the Album” soundtrack, and Warner Bros. pictures have a challenge on their hands: Which songs to push for which awards, and which categories?

Billie Eilish’s “What Was I Made For?” may be the most musically resonant song in the film and album, but it’s a melancholy one; conversely, Dua Lipa’s disco-fied “Dance the Night” is lighthearted fun personified and lights up the dance scenes, but it’s maybe not as emotionally resonant. Nicki Minaj and Variety cover star Ice Spice’s “Barbie World” features hot verses and an interpolation of Aqua’s 1997 hit “Barbie Girl” (not to mention the subtext of Minaj’s fans being called “Barbz”).

As if that weren’t already a stacked deck, Karol G’s “Watati” is sung in Spanish and has an irresistible reggaeton rhythm; Lizzo’s “Pink” comically narrates the opening scenes of the film; Charli XCX’s “Speed Drive” tugs at nostalgia strings with an interpolation of Toni Basil’s 1982 smash “Hey Mickey”; and of course Ryan Gosling’s tragicomic “I’m Just Ken” embodies the film’s powerful themes of male overcompensation for feelings of insecurity and inadequacy, and other things that begin with the letter “i.”

The latter song was written by super-producer Ronson — whose deep discography includes hits for everyone from Amy Winehouse to Adele and Lady Gaga, as well as multiple Grammys for his Bruno Mars collaboration “Uptown Funk” and a 2018 Oscar for “A Star Is Born” — with longtime collaborator Andrew Wyatt. The pair also wrote their first-ever full film score for “Barbie” (although the score may not qualify for an Oscar, owing to the vast amount of other music used in the film).

While some “Barbie” songs don’t work as well outside the context of the film, it’s one of the most overstuffed soundtrack albums in memory. It seems they can’t lose — but what songs, by whom, and where are they most likely to win?

Atlantic and Warner diplomatically declined to comment, but Jonathan McHugh, a veteran music supervisor, soundtrack producer and co-founder of the Guild of Music Supervisors, finds the choices “pretty clear-cut.”

“Billie’s song is so beautiful and it has the most number of [streams on Spotify]. It seems like the obvious choice, but it’s serious,” he says. “On the other hand, Dua’s is an incredible dance song, it’s huge in the movie, and it’s fun. I’m sure there are big calculations and consultations going on between people from the film, label, managers and others. Billie’s song feels more like an Oscar-winner, but you never know — some people really love the Ken song. Personally, I would try to put both [Eilish’s and Lipa’s] songs in play, but at the end of the day, it’s what the studio wants to pitch.”

The rub: Eilish and her brother/ collaborator Finneas O’Connell won in 2021 for the James Bond film “No Time to Die,” and no pop singer-songwriter has ever won more than one Best Song Oscar. Could she be the first? It’s a tall order, but certainly possible.

However, there are multiple options available for the Grammys. “Because there’s such musical diversity on the album and so many different genres, I’m sure they’re going to submit several tracks,” McHugh continues about the soundtrack. “It’s got the dance-pop song from Dua, which could really go into either of those categories, and you’ve got a pop/hip-hop song from Nicki and Ice Spice” — which has the additional bonus of a familiar, on-brand, 26-year-old song interpolated — “and the serious song from Billie, which doesn’t necessarily have a genre, so maybe they go for the big song or record of the year with that.” It’s also possible that Karol G could fit into a Latin category, and nearly every other song on the album conceivably could be submitted for pop, dance or alternative awards.

But as much as Atlantic can spread the “Barbie” wealth across several different Grammy categories, at the Oscars they have only a single option.

Oscar rules allow for as many as three songs to be submitted for best song consideration, but studios tend to submit only one or sometimes two, improving their chances for nomination. Disney, for example, submitted only the Spanish-language “Dos Oruguitas” from “Encanto” for the 2021 Oscar, but it was the viral sensation “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” that wound up winning the Grammy for Song Written for Visual Media.

So who will be in the pink? We’ll find out soon enough: the nominations ballot (basically a shortlist) goes live this week, and Grammy nominations will be announced on Friday, Nov. 10.

You may also like

Leave a Comment