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Years Before the ‘Barbie’ Soundtrack, Ryan Gosling Recorded a Ghoulish Indie-Rock Opus

Originally conceived as a "theatrical monster ghost love story," the debut by the actor's duo Dead Man's Bones came out in back in 2009.

Dead Man’s Bones: Ryan Gosling and Zach ShieldsHama Sanders

The soundtrack for Greta Gerwig's forthcoming live-action Barbie movie is shaping up to be as star-studded as the film's cast. Today, Rolling Stone reported that Barbie: The Album will feature songs from artists like Charli XCX, Dua Lipa, Haim, Ice Spice, Lizzo, Nicki Minaj and Ryan Gosling. One of those names may not seem like the others, but Gosling is no stranger to musical projects. In fact, the actor, who co-stars as Ken alongside Margot Robbie's Barbie, once recorded — of all things — a spooky, monster-themed indie-rock album.

After releasing his first solo track, "Put Me in the Car," in 2007, Gosling formed Dead Man's Bones with his friend Zach Shields, performing under the alias "Baby Goose." The project was originally intended as a full-fledged musical, until the pair scrapped the stage aspect and made an album instead. Gosling and Shields learned how to play a bunch of instruments and recorded their debut LP with the children's choir at L.A.'s Silverlake Conservatory of Music, with Gosling contributing vocals, piano, guitar, bass and cello.

"We'd rather see a high school play as opposed to a Broadway show any day," Gosling told Pitchfork of the project in 2009. "Not that Broadway shows aren't great, but there's just something about a high school play … you're not distracted by the achievements, you get to watch the process, the will to make something."

The self-titled record is hauntingly catchy. Tracks include "Werewolf Heart" (which begins with the ominous lines "You'd look nice in a grave/I smile at the moon/Death is on my face"), "My Body’s a Zombie for You" and "Flowers Grow Out of My Grave." Dead Man's Bones received mixed reviews upon its release, but was praised by Pitchfork as "lovably weird." Gosling said that the duo worked on the album tirelessly for two full years: "I made a couple movies because I had to, but this is all we do." Gosling and Shields had a few self-imposed guidelines for their DIY project: no electric guitars, three takes maximum, and an insistence on playing all of the instruments themselves.

Before Dead Man's Bones, Gosling had always been embarrassed by his voice, which Shields described to Pitchfork as "old quality," with a "'50s kind of croonery feel," so they opted for a lo-fi approach. "We had both made music before, and both of us hated what we did," Shields said. "We worked with people who were super professional, really accomplished musicians… When we recorded before, everyone we worked with, they tried to make us good, and you know, we're not, we're amateurs. They would put it through a click track, have us do a million takes, Auto-Tune my voice because I can't sing well."

Pre-Bones, Gosling released a few songs for the soundtrack of Wild Roomies in 2004, the same year he starred in The Notebook. Years prior, he cut his teeth singing in The Mickey Mouse Club. More recently, Gosling sang, danced, and played piano in 2016's La La Land. You can hear more of Baby Goose's musical chops on Barbie: The Album, which will be released on July 21, the same day as the movie's premiere.

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