Imogen Heap joined forces with ad agency BETC London and Goldsmiths University psychologists Caspar Addyman and Lauren Stewart, as well as thousands of British parents, to create a song that aims to provoke a happy response from babies. The song is available on C&G baby club’s social media channels as well as on Spotify and a dedicated website, soundofhappy.com.
The Happy Song features a 4/4 tempo chosen for its popularity and the fact it is easy to dance to. Heap decided to compose the song in the key of E flat as it was the key that Scout – her toddler daughter and helper on the project – sang a melody in on the first studio session. And, while I can’t vouch for whether it will make a baby giggle, it is certainly effective in getting stuck in your head, surely a prerequisite for all children’s songs.
The project marks a continued emphasis on the theme of ‘happiness’ by the C&G brand. “The Sound of Happy project is one of the ways that C&G baby club are exploring the world of happiness,” says Rosie Bardales, ECD at BETC London. “Music has been a strong theme of previous work and a song felt like the best way to engage with parents as well as giving the song out for free to make it even more sharable. We hope the song can become useful for parents as something they can play to their children to make more happy memories.”
The creation of the song drew on information from parents about the noises that made their babies most cheerful, with the word ‘boo’, a raspberry sound, sneezing and kissing all amongst the most popular sounds. Imogen Heap then worked initially with Scout and then with groups of parents and the Goldsmiths’ psychologists to compose the song. “We invited families to the baby lab at Goldsmiths and videoed the infants responding to four clips that Imogen had prepared,” says Goldsmiths’ Lauren Stewart. “We combined the insights from the infant testing with our own expertise regarding the relationship between musical features and attention/emotional response, to offer Imogen suggestions of how to further refine the final song.
“This type of project was a first for us, in terms of being involved in the shaping of a creative output from start to finish,” Stewart continues. “The experience was challenging, requiring us to consider not only which musical features and sounds would be most effective for the infants, but also striking a balance such that the listening experience at home with parents would be a stimulating and interactive one.”
This desire for parents to enjoy the song with their babies was paramount for Heap too. “I wanted to write a song that I could sing to Scout and that other parents might want to sing to their little ones too,” she says. “Because when a real-life loving voice sings to a baby, no matter how badly, it’s a lovely thing.”
Agency: BETC London
ECD: Rosie Bardales
Creatives: Ciara O’Meara, James Briggs
Director: Michael Ferns
Production company: Pretzel