Sam Smith critics spectacularly miss the point of new Barbie song ‘Man I Am’

After being announced as the last artist to feature on the Barbie soundtrack, pop superstar Sam Smith has sent bigots into a tailspin with the title of their upcoming single, “Man I Am.”

While excitement for Greta Gerwig’s film has undoubtedly reached fever pitch, it’s no exaggeration to say that the accompanying compilation album is also causing its fair share of chatter. Featuring the likes of pop titans Dua Lipa, Nicki Minaj and Lizzo, Barbie the Album, is being heralded by pop culture aficionados as the soundtrack of the summer.

So when the album’s producer, the legendary Mark Ronson, teased that the final artist to feature on the album would be “one of the f**king greatest living artists around,” Barbie fans knew they were in for something special.

Enter Sam Smith, who was revealed on 10 July to be the megastar sprinkling their own stardust on the soundtrack. In between a busy schedule of dominating a shamelessly queer world tour and becoming the ultimate bigot-provoker by way of harmless puns surrounding their gender identity, Smith has contributed the new single to the collection.

All seems well in Barbieland, until one takes a cursory glance at Twitter, where some people are making the same “joke” about Smith, who uses they/them pronouns, and the song’s title.

That’s right, the people of Elon Musk’s social media platform have taken issue with the song’s title, despite having never heard it.

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“Shouldn’t it be they I am?” one person asked, with another saying: “They don’t even identify as man, they’re non-binary… there [are] just so many things wrong with this final reveal.”

Another tweeted: “Isn’t Sam Smith non-binary, why ya song called ‘Man I Am’?”

One particularly passionate naysayer wrote: “The way we have spent years correcting people over their pronouns just to have them make a song called ‘Man I Am’. Lmao. This is what we mean when we say it’s performative and it’s queerness as an aesthetic.”

People making the same comments (and worse) have, of course, spectacularly missed the point of the song.

When Smith took to social media to share their excitement at being asked to be part of the album, they revealed that “Man I Am” is a song written from the perspective of himbo-in-chief, and Barbie devotee, Ken, played by Ryan Gosling.

“I cannot begin to express how incredibly excited I am to be a part of the soundtrack to this already iconic film,” they wrote.

“I was invited by the incredible Mark Ronson and Greta Gerwig to write a song from the perspective of Ken for one of the scenes and we honestly had so much fun with this. I cannot wait for you to hear what we’ve created.”

Ronson replied to the “I’m Not Here To Make Friends” singer, writing that the new song is “one of the most epic pieces of sexual pop synth majesty” he has ever heard. Complete with “vocals that send chills through you”, the song serves as the culmination of Ken’s plot line in discovering his identity.

The narrative of Barbie’s right-hand man, ummm we mean doll, looks set to see Gosling explore his own place in the world – the real one, as well as Barbieland.

A recently released teaser of one of the film’s musical moments called “Just Ken”, sung by Gosling, contains lyrics such as: “Doesn’t seem to matter what I do, I’m always number two” and “Cause I’m just Ken, anywhere else I’d be a 10.”

Smith’s contribution to Barbie looks primed to feel the “Ken-ergy” as the track delves deeper into that theme.

Smith’s announcement has also attracted positive reactions, with one fan writing that “we will be seated for their c**ty serve,” which is a nice way of saying they’re looking forward to the song’s release.

“I think with the song title and [their] angelic vocal abilities, [it] will sound pretty good,” another suggested.

A third added: “Omg iconic. Non-binary person singing song about being a man. I’m sat. Will be listening.”

Meanwhile, on Instagram, musician Carter James commented: “When I heard you were on the track list, it brought me so much joy. Beyond proud of you and the incredible legacy you continue to build.”

While fans are slowly piecing together details of the film’s plot, courtesy of the rollout of captivating teasers, interviews and music videos, the actual ins-and-outs of the story are still very much in their plastic wrapping. We know that Barbie and Ken venture into the real world to uncover the hidden truth of their existence, but not much else.

Barbie, starring Margot Robbie alongside Gosling, Hari Nef, Ncuti Gatwa and others, is set to be open in cinemas on 21 July.

Barbie the Album will be released the same day.

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