Matchbox 20 talks Ryan Gosling’s ‘Push’ cover as Ken in ‘Barbie’ movie

Spoiler alert! The following contains major details about “Barbie” (now in theaters).

The “Barbie” soundtrack is a magnificent mélange of pop superstars, including Dua Lipa, Lizzo and Billie Eilish.

But the film’s most inspired musical moment belongs to “Push,” a 1996 alt-rock anthem by Matchbox Twenty. The song is earnestly performed by Ken (Ryan Gosling), who quite literally sings it at Barbie (Margot Robbie) for hours on end while strumming his guitar and sitting around a campfire.

The hilarious scene kickstarts the movie’s climax, as Barbie and her fellow dolls attempt to rescue Barbie Land, which Ken has transformed into a bro-dude brewtopia filled with horses, sports and “The Godfather.” The song becomes the national anthem of the so-called Kendom, replacing Indigo Girls’ “Closer to Fine.”

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Rob Thomas, left, and Ryan Gosling as Ken.

“Push” was co-written by the band’s frontman, Rob Thomas, who sings about an emotionally abusive ex-girlfriend. In the context of “Barbie,” it’s an ingenious choice for the fragile Ken, who feels adrift in Barbie’s orbit and vengefully embraces toxic masculinity.

“Growing up, I loved that song,” director Greta Gerwig tells USA TODAY. “I was like, ‘This is my rock ‘n’ roll, Dad. Enjoy The Who, but these are my guys.’ And it wasn’t until college that I actually thought, ‘What is that song about?’ Just thinking about 13-year-old me singing along and really meaning it, I was like, ‘That is so interesting.’ I looked it up and, in a way, (Thomas) was playing a character. It’s almost like a story song.”

Thomas, 51, is currently touring the U.S. with Matchbox Twenty. He spoke to us last month about “Push,” problematic ‘90s music and his longtime crush on Gerwig (edited and condensed for clarity).

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