Ty Inc. — that's the company behind Beanie Babies and a host of other Beanie-related creatures — is releasing a new line of plush toys called Peek-a-Boos, little animals that double as cellphone stands and microfiber screen cleaners. I don't have any real interest in the product itself: I'm not going to buy one for my own desk, and I don't have any children (or even friends with children) who could make better use of plush creatures that keep your phone clean. But I do have ears, and I'm using them to confirm that the jingle Ty's using to promote Peek-a-Boos is a late entry into this year's Song of the Year race.
The TV spot Ty has prepared for Peek-a-Boos is its first ever television ad, according to Adweek, and the company worked with ad agency Leo Burnett and music agency Comma on the promotional clip. The professional help paid off: "Peek-a-Boo" is insanely catchy. The hook's bright, simple, and repetitive, but there's also something sinister about it; it's like the song's suggesting these tiny plush animals are going to be keeping an eye on you 24/7, or like they'll be reading and digesting all of your data every time you pop your phone into their little cradles. Peek-a-boo! It's a sour note to strike in an ad for a children's product, but it means the jingle's musical gold.
"Peek-a-Boo" is surprisingly effective as a piece of meta-commentary
If "Peek-a-Boo" sounds like anything that's actually bidding for musical relevance in 2015, it's the work being done by producers like SOPHIE and the figures populating A.G. Cook's PC Music collective. The shiny Uncanny Valley-pop those artists make often gets compared to commercial jingles and faceless ad music, and it's a comparison the artists actively encourage. They're insistent about the relationship between music, money, and physical products; their singles and compilations come with packaged energy drinks and sex toys. "Peek-a-Boo" makes for more effective commentary on that relationship: it's actually being used to sell stuff (to children!) while inhabiting the same nebulous space between the real and the unreal.
I have no idea whether or not the people at Comma are PC Music fans or not, and the ad's sound reflects something closer to a cycle of influence than a direct chain. SOPHIE and his contemporaries make music that sounds like glossed-up jingles; new jingles edge a little closer to their avant-garde takes on a similar sound. Chicken-or-egg questions aside, we can all agree on one thing: "Peek-a-Boo" is a verified slapper. If it's stuck in your head for the rest of the day, I apologize.