Ryan Gosling Defines ‘Kenergy’ in Barbie Speech For Mark Ronson

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Ryan Gosling sometimes regrets coining the phrase “Kenergy.” Speaking on Saturday at Variety‘s Hitmakers event, however, he embraced the idea of “Kenergy” — a term he said he made up while on a press junket for the hit film “Barbie” — to describe musician, songwriter and producer Mark Ronson.

Gosling was at Hitmakers to award Ronson, the executive producer behind the “Barbie” soundtrack and a co-producer and co-writer on some of its standout tracks, this year’s honors for Soundtrack of the Year. In doing so, Gosling championed Ronson for being the prime example of “Kenergy” in the real world.

“What is ‘Kenergy,’ other than a word I made up on a press junket so I didn’t have to really answer any questions, that’s haunted me ever since?” Gosling said while chuckling on stage. “Well, it’s a noun, that I’ve come to understand as the strength and vitality required for a sustained period of ‘Kenning.’ What’s ‘Kenning,’ other than another random word I made up? It’s a verb. To Ken is to give more than is necessary or required to reflect so that others might shine. I don’t know how to better describe Mark Ronson better than that.”

“I’m Just Ken” crooner Gosling joked that “up until six months ago, the entire world gave zero fucks about Ken. He was just this 70-year-old crotchless doll with no house, no car, no job, and no voice, and look at him now! He has a Grammy-nominated power ballad and the voice of an angel. What happened? It’s simple. He met Mark Ronson, and his life changed forever. But he wasn’t the first and he won’t be the last.”

Gosling pointed out Ronson’s long line of hits that he’s been behind, from artists like Bruno Mars, Lady Gaga, Adele, Duran Duran, Diplo and the late Amy Winehouse.

“Believe me, if you’ve ever had your essence synthesized into music by Marc Ronson, you’d want to give him an award too,” he added.

In accepting the award, Ronson said, “There’s no way to follow that!” He noted “I was so in love with Greta Gerwig and her vision that if she told me to put fly posters that said ‘Barbie’ up and down the West Side Highway, I probably would have done that as well at that point … It was a joy to sit with all these artists and watch them as they watched clips of the film for the first time. And I would see their eyes literally widen as they were being sucked into Greta’s heartfelt technicolor brilliant vision,” Ronson said — as his award fell to the ground.

Ronson added that working on “Barbie” “brought the best out of all of us,” including the artists who were involved in the soundtrack. “The fact that Billie [Eilish] and Finneas saw 20 minutes of this film and just came back with this most haunting gobsmacked ballad. Dua [Lipa] was so into it, she basically wrote her lyrics to choreograph Margot Robbie’s dancing. I’ve never written a song like ‘I’m Just Ken’ before and I probably never will in my life… As special as it was, all the artists really came to the table because obviously they love Greta.”

It should come as no surprise that Ronson is the recipient of Variety Hitmakers’ Soundtrack of the Year award, given his work on the “Barbie” original soundtrack and its accompanying score. The musician served as executive music producer on “Barbie,” and cowrote the score with longtime collaborator Andrew Wyatt. He admits that putting together the music for the blockbuster film came with challenges.

“I can play a track for an artist and it’s a banger, right?” he said. “With movies, it’s completely different. It might be an undeniably great piece of music, but if it’s not matching this unspoken thing that the director has always imagined when they see that image on the screen, it doesn’t work.”

Yet, it did. Music from the film netted 11 Grammy nominations across seven categories, including song and record of the year. In the category for Best Song Written for Visual Media, four of the five nominees were from the soundtrack. Ronson initially planned on only doing a few songs for “Barbie,” but it quickly blossomed into more, leading him to work in the studio with artists like Dua Lipa and Lizzo. He and his collaborators meticulously collaborated to create songs that matched what was happening on the screen, yielding standalone songs that seamlessly integrated into the film.

Up next: The Oscars, perhaps? Ronson is on a hot streak with the “Barbie” soundtrack, and it doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. With the Grammys in February, Ronson is relishing in the fact that it’s gotten this far. “I felt kinda bad that we hogged the whole thing,” he says with a laugh. “But it was great to see that kind of acknowledgment, and obviously I’m not complaining.”

Here is Gosling’s full speech:

I’m here to introduce someone who actually needs no introduction. We all know who he is, we’ve always known who he is. Even if we didn’t really, we knew he was that well-dressed dude, intentionally avoiding the spotlight to instead be the creative force behind award-winning hits from multiple artists, and collaborating with everyone, from Bruno Mars, Lady Gaga, Adele, Duran Duran, Diplo and of course, Amy Winehouse.

What can I say about this intentionally enigmatic figure? How can we know a man who refuses to be known? How do you define that which defies definition? Maybe it can only be done with a word that’s just as hard to pin down. A word like… Kenergy. What is Kenergy, other than a word I made up on a press junket so I didn’t have to really answer any questions, that’s haunted me ever since? Well, it’s a noun, that I’ve come to understand as the strength and vitality required for a sustained period of Kenning. What’s Kenning, other than another random word I made up? It’s a verb. To Ken is to give more than is necessary or required to reflect so that others might shine. Well, I don’t know how to better describe Mark Ronson better than that.

I can tell you from firsthand experience, up until six months ago, the entire world gave zero fucks about Ken. He was just this 70-year-old crotchless doll with no house, no car, no job, and no voice, and look at him now! He has a Grammy-nominated power ballad and the voice of an angel. What happened? It’s simple. He met Mark Ronson, and his life changed forever.

But he wasn’t the first and he won’t be the last. He’s just the latest in a long line of those who Marc has lent his creativity, generosity and infinite talent to synthesize their essence into music. And believe me, if you’ve ever had your essence synthesized into music by Marc Ronson, you’d want to give him an award too.

This year, he and his team, including Andrew Wyatt, music supervisor George Drakoulias, the team at Atlantic Records and our own writer/director, Greta Gerwig, gave us an epic Barbie soundtrack full of amazing music, from Dua Lipa, Nicki Minaj and Ice Spice, Billie Eilish, Lizzo, Sam Smith, Tame Impala, Charli XCX, Karol G ft. Aldo Ranks, PinkPantheress, Fifty Fifty featuring Kaliii, The Kid Laroi, Haim, Khalid, Dominic Fike, Ava Max and Gayle. Single after single topped the charts. It has sold over one million copies and has had over three billion global streams. Recently, it received 12 Grammy nominations. That includes breaking the record for most songs to ever be nominated.

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