“The night before the session she called me up and said, ‘Mark Ronson just called me.’ That happens if you’re Charli XCX, I guess”: Producer Finn Keane on the making of Speed Drive, from the Barbie soundtrack

Charli XCX
(Image credit: Getty Images)

We’ve already heard plenty about the making of Barbie singles What Was I Made For? And Dance The Night, by Billie Eilish and Dua Lipa respectively, and now producer Finn Keane has been discussing how he and artist Charli XCX went about creating Speed Drive, another hit from the movie’s soundtrack.

Speaking to Music Week [paywall], Keane (AKA Easyfun) explains that his involvement in the song came about after he’d been working with Charli XCX on her new record; the star got in touch to ask if he’d be willing to go back in the studio with her for a couple of days.

“We were going to write for her album again, but the night before the session she called me up and said, ‘Mark Ronson just called me,’” Keane recalls. “That happens if you’re Charli XCX, I guess.

“She said, ‘He wants us to try a few things for the Barbie soundtrack, maybe the car chase sequence? It looks like it’s going to be a really exciting film, are you up for doing it with me?’ I said, ‘Of course! That sounds amazing.’”

Cut to Charli XCX’s boyfriend’s [The 1975’s George Daniel] studio, and the writing process began with the singer telling Keane about the Barbie driving footage that she’d been shown by director Greta Gerwig and Mark Ronson. “It had to be high-octane,” concluded the producer when discussing Speed Drive’s vibe.

“We had the idea of starting with that synth, but having aggressive bass sounds underneath,” Keane continues. “Charli wanted to try something a bit like Cobrastyle by Robyn, but I didn’t have anything ready, so she said she was going to make some lunch. I started a beat and she’d shout over, ‘Oh, I like that,’ or, ‘Oh, I don’t like that,’ and we made a few sounds in five or 10 minutes. I think it was just the riff, the bass and that drum beat.”

Of the interpolation of Tony Basil’s Mickey, Keane recalls that “[Charli] was playing around with it and said, ‘What do you think about this? Should it be like, ‘Ah Barbie, you’re so fine?’’ We knew we wanted to namecheck Barbie and that felt silly, light and fun, so we followed the idea, knowing that it was going to be the hook.”

In keeping with Speed Drive’s sub-two-minute running time, the track came together quickly. “Charli is such a fantastic writer: if you give her three or four sounds with energy and vibe, she can completely flesh it out - it’s like a superpower,” Keane believes.

Following Barbie’s huge success, Keane concludes by saying that he feels “privileged to have been involved,” and loves the fact that people have taken Speed Drive to their hearts.

“The Barbenheimer TikTok trend was fun to watch,” he says. “I think that helped spur on the song. But my favourite videos were people who would post pictures of their speeding tickets and be like, “Fuck you Charli, this is your fault!” I thought that was really funny!”     

Ben Rogerson

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it. 

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