One of the standout points for Greta Gerwig’s Barbie movie was the soundtrack. The power ballad “I’m Just Ken” became such a big hit, and Billie Eilish could be on the way to another Oscar with her heart-shattering song “What Was I Made For?” But one song from the movie that brought back disco was Dua Lipa’s “Dance the Night,” which she explains came from her love for “dance-crying” and an Instagram DM.
“Dance the Night” is an example of a song that stays in your head for a long time. You just have to play the lyric “Come along for the ride” and I’m pepped for my morning workout. As for how this beautiful creation of a Barbie song came into being, Dua Lipa (who also cameoed as Mermaid Barbie) spoke on THR’s Songwriter Roundtable with this answer:
It was, from the very beginning, the most fun experience. It was something that I hadn’t done before. Basically, the way it came to be was Mark Ronson DM’d me on Instagram, which is weird because we’re friends, so we text. He was like, ‘I’m working on this film with Greta Gerwig and it’s Barbie, and it’s possibly the funniest script I’ve read, and I really want you to write the song for the big dance scene in the film.’ I was like, ‘This is an absolute no-brainer. One thousand percent yes.’ I was on tour at the time, so I was like, ‘OK, when does the song need to be due?’
It’s normally a mystery to me too why some people choose one messaging platform over another when it comes to important news. Maybe it has to do with whichever one Dua Lipa will answer the fastest. I give recording artists like her a lot of credit to be able to tell someone they need a big dance song for Barbie and to be ready to take it on just like that. She really did write a real toe-tapper that both kids and adults can enjoy. Our first snippet of Dua Lipa’s dance hit first made its way into our ears in the first full Barbie trailer. Just hearing the lyrics “I can dance, I can dance” was enticing us all to take a trip to Barbieland, so you can only imagine us shimmying in our seats when we saw the Barbie’s Mansion dance sequence.
There were apparently a lot of elements that went into play when writing “Dance the Night.” The Grammy winner spoke more about how her collaboration with Barbie’s director Greta Gerwig and the Warner Bros. movie’s unique plot were the ingredients she needed to give us a memorable song:
I flew to New York, we went in the studio, and we just had so much time talking to Greta, understanding the premise of the film. It’s so much about stereotypical Barbie having an existential crisis and finding out what it’s like to experience the human condition and the way that we are as people and the emotions that we feel. And constantly striving for perfection but not quite reaching it, striving for something deeper in a way. Greta was saying how inspired by disco she was. I just thought about disco and the community it brings, and the way it brings people together. It was always a genre of music that was such a release when things weren’t going well in the world. And so ‘Dance the Night’ was created specifically for Barbie’s best day ever, which then results in her thinking about death. So it’s really about those dualities of life and being able to merge the two together. And that’s what I love the most. I love dance-crying.
If you’re curious what Dua Lipa means by “dance-crying,” the British-Albanian singer explained on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon that the term describes the ability to dance to a song that has deeper meaning. Bringing together the elements of joy and sadness tends to be a trait followed in Lipa’s two albums. It’s inspirational when you think about how this singer wants to encourage people to keep dancing no matter how heavy emotions get. The song fits well with Barbie’s dance sequence, as the song fits into the Mattel Inc. doll having the best day ever, but then also deals with the shock of experiencing morbid thoughts about death for the first time. Even after freaking out all of her friends with her thoughts, everyone still keeps on dancing through it all.
Ever since “Dance the Night” made its way into the billion-dollar box office movie, it’s received a lot of awards attention. Last week, the Billboard Top 100 hit got nominated for two Grammys: Song of the Year and Best Song Written for Visual Media. In the latter category, she’ll be competing with three of Barbie’s soundtrack contributors - Eilish, Ryan Gosling, and Nicki Minaj. It was also nominated for three MTV Movie Awards, including Best Pop. The disco-pop tune did manage to snag the International Song of the Year award for the LOS40 Music Awards. This makes me wonder if Dua Lipa has a shot of being an Oscar nominee for her song having to compete against Eilish yet again.
I can’t believe it took one Instagram DM and Dua Lipa’s “dance-crying” for a song like “Dance the Night” to find its way to the Barbie movie. Right now, the 2023 movie release is available to rent on digital platforms, as well as still showing in limited theatrical showtimes.