His gift? A new EP of ‘I’m Just Ken’ remixes.
When the world needed him most, he returned. Ryan Gosling is still flying high from his magnum opus (playing Ken in Barbie), and on December 20, he released Ken The EP, a glorious musical journey from the depths of Kendom Land — with a festive Christmas-y twist.
Sitting firmly in the realm of things nobody asked for but everyone will happily accept, the four-track project is a dedicated ode to his Grammy-nominated ballad, “I’m Just Ken.”
The cover image shows our favourite Mattel-made rascal in his finest form, staring at the camera with a dubious look in his eyes. He’s popping the collar of his denim vest, his eyebrow is arched just so and his blown-up bubble gum is on the verge of popping. He looks like he’s got something to say.
The EP — which was created in collaboration with Mark Ronson, Barbie’s soundtrack producer — opens with the aforementioned holiday tune, “I’m Just Ken (Merry Kristmas Barbie).” Accompanied by a brand new music video, this remix brings some seasonal jubilance to the famously introspective solo.
His echoey vocals feel almost otherwordly with the addition of church-like bells and festive strings. There’s a powerful chorus of background singers. At the very end, Ken’s mysteriously sexy speaking voice comes in. “Merry Christmas Barbie…Wherever you are,” he coos. Get this man a Grammy, stat!
But that’s not all. There’s “I’m Just Ken (In My Feelings Acoustic),” a mellow rendition for the sensitive girlies. We have “I’m Just Ken (Purple Disco Machine Remix),” an infectious electro-infused trip that will most likely put you in some kind of trance. And of course, it includes the classic “I’m Just Ken,” an irresistible serenade that put Kenny on the music map.
Through it all, it’s the Christmas special that feels particularly timeless. Is it basically the same song with a few seasonal-themed special touches? Yes. Have I had it playing on a non-stop loop since it was released? Also yes. After all, what better way to immortalize an artist’s body of work than by making it holiday-themed?
Such jingle-filled carols are the reason for the season. They’re designed to descend into our ears at the same time each year. They’re the only genre of music that is socially acceptable to play over and over again. As with sufficiently silly romcoms, they’re a major provider of Christmas cheer!
With Ken The EP out in the world, Ryan Gosling and Ken are now canon to holiday hullaballoo. And that’s a pretty big deal.
Thing is, writing a hit Christmas song is famously no small feat. Mariah Carey didn’t get where she is today by being just OK. Michael Bublé has cornered the market on a very specific kind of winter wonderland whimsy. Frank Sinatra may no longer be with us, but his verified TikTok account regularly goes viral sharing decades-old “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” performances.
That’s what makes Ryan Gosling and his Ken-fuelled obsession so delightfully different. Take it from Ronson, who conceptualized the new versions of Ken’s hit. As he explained on Instagram, they didn’t set out to make a Christmas song, things just kind of worked out that way.
We’d call that a Christmas miracle.