Already have an account?
Get back to the

Matchbox 20’s Rob Thomas Reacts to ‘Push’ in ‘Barbie,’ Greta Gerwig Explains Ryan Gosling’s Cover

There are a ton of potential takeaways from the Barbie movie, but one unexpected result of seeing the film is having Matchbox Twenty’s “Push” stuck in your head.

Lead singer Rob Thomas opened up about director Greta Gerwig getting in touch with his team to get permission for Ryan Gosling (Ken) to record the 1996 song for the Margot Robbie-led movie.

“I want to preface this by saying that I thought it was hilarious. But in Bring It On, (Kirsten Dunst’s character) has this douchey boyfriend. And there’s a scene where he was in his dorm room with a Matchbox Twenty poster in the background. There was a whole period during the ‘90s where the more successful we got, the bigger target we were. We were an easy takedown,” Thomas told USA Today after Barbie was released on Friday, July 21. “When I got the call for Barbie, they told me, ‘Ken’s by the fireside, he’s playing the song and it’s his favorite band.’”

While Thomas thought Matchbox Twenty would be “the butt of the joke” — something he was “fine with” as he’s “pretty thick-skinned” — he was pleasantly surprised when he heard more about the scene, which includes Gosling and the other Kens passionately singing “Push” on the beach to the Barbies.

A Breakdown of Every Barbie and Ken From the Barbie . Movie 278 America Ferrera, Simu Liu, Margot Robbie, Issa Rae, Ryan Gosling and Greta Gerwig.

Related: Breaking Down Every Barbie and Ken From the ‘Barbie’ Movie

“But Julie Greenwald [from Atlantic Records] came to the Hollywood Bowl a month or two ago. She had just seen the movie and was like, ‘You come out of it loving Ken and loving ‘Push.’’ And I was like, ‘Aww. Alright, really good!’” he recalled.

Thomas went on to call Gerwig “one of my crushes forever.”

“To the point where I was on a plane one time and v like, ‘Baby, Greta Gerwig just came on the plane, oh my God.’ So just the fact that it didn’t diminish my crush of Greta, that’s even better,” he said.

During an appearance on the “ReelBlend” podcast, Gerwig confirmed that Matchbox Twenty was aware of the song being used in the film.

Matchbox 20 s Rob Thomas Reacts to Push in Barbie Greta Gerwig Explains Ryan Gosling s Cover 262
Anthony Harvey/Shutterstock

“I hope it reinvigorates the song,” she said. While the filmmaker said it made her “laugh so hard thinking about” the Kens singing the song on the beach, Gerwig revealed that several cast members didn’t know “Push” wasn’t written specifically for Barbie.

“A lot of the cast is younger and also that song didn’t really chart in the U.K. the way it charted in the U.S. So actually, a lot of the cast thought we had made up the song,” she said. “And I was like, ‘Oh, no, this is a legit pop hit.’”

Issa Rae, who plays President Barbie, later admitted to Entertainment Weekly that she was one of the stars who wasn’t familiar with the song. “I thought [Greta] made the song up for that scene. … I was like, ‘This is a real song?!’” she said during a cast roundtable. “I escaped it [at the time], I guess. But I like it!”

All the Celebs at Barbie Film Premiere

Related: ‘Barbie’ Premiere Red Carpet: See What the Stars Wore

During the EW interview, Gerwig explained that while she thought the Kens would relate to Matchbox Twenty — while Barbie is an Indigo Girls stan — she was even surprised by hearing the lyrics again.

“I wanna push you around / Well, I will, well, I will,” Thomas sings in the chorus. “I wanna push you down / Well, I will, well, I will / I wanna take you for granted.”

Matchbox 20 s Rob Thomas Reacts to Push in Barbie Greta Gerwig Explains Ryan Gosling s Cover 261
Rob Thomas, Ryan Gosling. Kristin Callahan/Shutterstock ; Jaap Buitendijk/Warner Bros.

Thomas, for his part, shared more insight into the song during his interview with USA Today, telling the outlet that he penned the track about an ex in one night.

“What’s funny is, I wrote that song about someone I had been with who I felt was manipulating me and taking advantage of me. The ‘90s was a time of manufactured angst, and nobody wanted to be a victim in a song. So in a weird twist of different times, there’s something very problematic about ‘Push,’ if it wasn’t for the innocence of how it was written. But everything about it was about emotional manipulation. It was just about this idea that it’s so much easier to find someone you can take advantage of than it is to actually put work into a relationship,” he said. “But at the time I was in my early 20s. I didn’t even know what I was writing about. It takes being in my 50s now, and being married for 24 years, to look back and go, ‘Oh, man, I was going through some [stuff].’ Therapy didn’t seem like an option in the ‘90s, so I was just journaling my feelings and sharing them with the world.”

Greta Gerwig with cast on set of 'Barbie'

Related: What Had to Be Cut From 'Barbie'

Despite the controversial lyrics, Thomas said there “wasn’t that much outrage” at the time, adding that the band “came from the George Michael, David Bowie world of ‘let’s get somebody talking about something.’”

“We also lived in a different climate,” he said. “A song like that without an asterisk next to it is more problematic now, because we’re all much more aware of things. But at the time, ‘90s music was pretty problematic. And in a way, [the song] was very tame next to a bunch of other things. Also, look at me – I’m not going to push anybody around.”

Barbie, which brought in more than $162 million on its opening weekend, is in theaters now. The soundtrack — including Gosling’s cover of “Push” and original song “I’m Just Ken” — is available to stream.

In this article

Got a Tip form close button
Got a tip for US?
We're All Ears for Celebrity Buzz!