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Matchbox Twenty’s Rob Thomas on ‘Barbie’ using “Push”: “Greta Gerwig has been one of my crushes forever”

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(SPOILER ALERT) If you’ve seen the Barbie movie, you know one of the main scenes in the film comes when Ken, played by Ryan Gosling, serenades Margot Robbie‘s Barbie for hours with Matchbox Twenty‘s hit “Push.” Why that song? Well, it turns out Barbie director Greta Gerwig is a huge fan.

“Growing up, I loved that song,” Gerwig tells USA Today. “I was like, ‘This is my rock ‘n’ roll, Dad. Enjoy The Who, but these are my guys.’” When working on the film, she realized that the song’s theme of emotional manipulation would fit in perfectly with the plot.

For Rob’s part, he tells USA Today he assumed he’d be “the butt of the joke” when he was asked about using the song. “And I was fine with that. I’m pretty thick-skinned,” he says. But there’s another reason he was excited to be involved in the film.

“Greta Gerwig has been one of my crushes forever,” Rob admits.

In Barbie, the song’s lyrics — “I want to push you around/I wanna push you down/I wanna take you for granted” — are used to express toxic masculinity, but Rob says he actually wrote it about a former girlfriend.

“I wrote that song about someone I had been with who I felt was manipulating me and taking advantage of me,” he explains, adding, “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.”

As for his Barbie viewing plans, Rob laughs, “I’m probably going to stream it on my bus when it’s available to everyone else, because apparently, I’m not famous enough to get a[n advance screener.] I bet you John Mayer would get a screener!”

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