"Barbie Girl" is a song in the bubblegum pop genre by the Danish-Norwegian dance-pop group Aqua, who released it in 1997 as their third single overall, and the first United Kingdom release. The song is included on the album Aquarium and was written by Claus Norreen and Søren Nystrøm Rasted after the group saw an exhibit on kitsch culture. The song topped the charts worldwide, particularly in European countries such as the UK, where it was #1 on the charts for three weeks; it was also on top of the charts in Australia for the same length of time, and reached #7 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.
The song was voted the fourth "Best Number One of All Time" in a VH1 poll, and was featured in spot #32 on VH1's "Most Awesomely Bad Songs… Ever" countdown. An unrelated VH1 countdown, VH1's 100 Greatest One-Hit Wonders, rated it #88.
The lyrics of the song are about Barbie and Ken, the dolls made by Mattel. Both the song and its music video feature Lene Nystrøm Rasted as Barbie and René Dif as Ken. As such, the lyrics drew the ire of Barbie's corporate owners.
In 2007, Rolling Stone voted Barbie Girl as one of the 20 Most Annoying Songs.
In 2007, MuchMoreMusic voted it at #27, as one of the 50 Guilty Pleasures.
In 2008, it was featured as "one of the worst songs ever played" on The Morning Wrap, the premiere talk show of the Florida Panhandle.
In 2009, Same Difference voted it #2 in their Ultimate Cheese-Fest Top 20 on 4Music.
Blender magazine also voted it at #33, as one of the 50 Worst Songs Ever.
"Barbie Girl" has sold more than 8 million copies worldwide.
The music video played repeatedly on MTV and helped launch the career of Danish director Peder Pedersen, who designed its cartoon-inspired visuals.
As of February 2009, the video has over 26.5 million views on YouTube.
Mattel sued the band, saying they violated the Barbie trademark and turned Barbie into a sex object, referring to her as a "Blonde Bimbo." They alleged the song had violated their copyrights and trademarks of Barbie, and that its lyrics had tarnished the reputation of their trademark and impinged on their marketing plan. Aqua claimed that Mattel injected their own meanings into the song's lyrics and MCA Records was not about to let their hit single be suppressed without a fight. They contested Mattel's claims and countersued for defamation after Mattel had likened MCA to a bank robber.
The lawsuit filed by Mattel was dismissed by the lower courts, and this dismissal was upheld, though Mattel took their case up to the Supreme Court of the United States (Mattel's appeal was later rejected). In 2002, Judge Alex Kozinski ruled the song was protected as a parody under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, and also threw out the defamation lawsuit that Aqua's record company filed against Mattel. Kozinski concluded his ruling by saying, "The parties are advised to chill." The case was dismissed, and in the process, it garnered lots of media attention for the song and the band.
This controversy was used by journalist Naomi Klein to make a political point in her book No Logo, where she stated that the monopolies created by copyrights and trademarks are unfairly and differently enforced based on the legal budgets of the conflicting parties and their ability to defend their expressions by hiring lawyers.
Michael Strangelove, author of The Empire of Mind: Digital Piracy and the Anti-Capitalist Movement, suggested that the failure of Mattel to control and determine the meaning of Barbie indicates how the economic system fails to enable complete control over meanings.
Brazilian singer Kelly Key released a cover version of "Barbie Girl" as her tenth single. The single was released on April 15, 2005.
* The rather gay version of "The Barbie Song" (performed by The Dog House) features Garrett and Raoul who insult Barbie behind her back with gratuitous words because they pine for Ken, however the conclusion of the song sees Barbie approach the pair who proceed to assault her and run off. This song is featured on their 2000 album, How Many People Must Get Dissed?
* Punk rock covers have been performed by bands Home Grown, MxPx, Zebrahead, Simple Plan, My Favorite Band (MFB) and Tsunami Bomb.
* The German duo Lynne & Tessa produced a lip-synched internet video of the song, which has consistently been ranked high in the top-100 list on Google Video since it was released in May 2006.
* The British Indian comedy sketch show Goodness Gracious Me parodied the song as "Punjabi Girl" both in the radio series and later on television.
* The ska band The Aquabats and "Weird Al" Yankovic are mistakenly credited for the parody "Ugly Girl" on music sharing websites. It is debated on who really made it.
* On 11 September 2007, Big Brother 8, co-runners up Samanda recorded a cover, as their debut single. It was released on 7 October 2007 and charted at No.26.
* The song is parodied in the Dutch song "Neem Een Ander in de Maling (Barbie Girl)" by Ome Henk (Note : this parody has sometimes been mistaken for being sung in German by Rammstein).
* WPLJ has also done a parody "Jersey Girl" using stereotypes of Jersey girls as the basis for the whole song.
* "I'm a Ken Doll" has been rightly or wrongly attributed to Eddie & Jobo.
* The band Electric Chairs recorded a melancholy, down-tempo rendition of Barbie Girl in 2001.
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