“Undress me everywhere” is not something you’d ever imagine Johnny Cash singing, yet here we are.
The AI version of Johnny Cash covering Aqua’s 90s pop hit Barbie Girl was posted on a YouTube channel called There I Ruined It on Thursday (July 13th) and went viral over the weekend just in time for this week’s release of Greta Gerwig’s Barbie, one of the year’s most anticipated movies.
The cover garnered over 3 million views on TikTok and hundreds of thousands of likes on Instagram, where users actively shared their opinions. One described the work as “unconstitutional,” while another said it was a “horrible” parody of Cash’s music.
However, others seemed to thoroughly enjoy the unusual mash-up, with one Instagram user commenting: “I legitimately hate how good this is.”
Another said this was “proof that he can’t make a bad song,” while someone suggested renaming the cover to Folsom Barbie Blues due to its similarity to Folsom Prison Blues, the song Cash recorded and released in 1955 – four years before the first Barbie doll went on sale.
One YouTube user expressed mixed feelings about the work, stating, “As a Cash fan, this is blasphemous but as a fan of the absurd, this is perfect.”
For fans of both Cash and Barbie, this was a match made in heaven. “You’re supposed to ruin songs, [but] you just made one of my favorite artist[s] sing one of my favorite songs. I’m in heaven right now,” one said.
The YouTube channel There I Ruined It is run by musician Dustin Ballard “with a simple goal of ruining as many beloved songs as possible before it’s banned from the internet,” according to the project’s website.
Its many notable “ruinations” include Super Mario Bros. edition of Eminem’s Lose Yourself and AI Elvis Presley singing “I like big butts, and I cannot lie” in a cover of the 80s hip hop sensation Baby Got Back.
Ballard records the vocals himself, which are then transformed by an AI model trained on the voice of the artist he wants to impersonate. The Barbie Girl cover includes excerpts from Wannabe by Spice Girls and Party in the U.S.A. by Miley Cyrus, as well as some original lyrics.
“This is what you guys call music? Well, I’ll be damned,” the AI version of Cash is heard singing before continuing that he’d rather stay away from Barbie world “if they free me from this AI.”
“Oh, come on Barbie, let’s go party and take my blues away,” ends the song.
According to his YouTube channel, Ballard plans to use the technology in a live performance this fall, as the pushback in creative industries against AI’s use continues to pick up steam.
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