Picture this: Your child has a toy that emits a constant, repetitive stream of chatter that you find yourself humming while driving to work or cleaning up the dishes after bedtime. For the most part, jingles are infuriating earworms that take up valuable mental space, but once in a while you actually appreciate one of these ditties. If you haven’t found yourself grooving with one of your kids’ toys, let me introduce you to the, uh, cat toy vacuum robot that took the Internet my house by storm.
Fisher-Price”Cat on a vacuum cleaneris part of the toymaker’s “Laugh and Learn” series, which consists of toys “based on familiar, everyday things,” according to the product’s Amazon listing. (Other greatest hits from this range include a singing piggy bank and color changing mixing bowl.) A cheerful ginger cat sits atop what many cleaning enthusiasts will recognize as a robot vacuum, and a gentle squeeze of the feline’s head will propel the toy forward, encouraging your child to crawl after it.
Although these are all fairly standard toddler toy mechanisms, there is something that defines the Cat on a vacuum cleaner except for the chorus of trinkets that line my living room floor. The suite of songs that erupt every time you press the green button at the cat’s feet sound less like the tiny tunes that emanate from your average playroom gadget and more like something you’d hear on the radio, complete with beat syncopated synthesized, crooning vocals and auto-tuned lyrics imbued with pathos and nostalgia. (Type of.)
“What sounds most like Afro-pop, current West African or South African R&B with heavy Auto-Tune,” explained Ari Goldman, one half of the DJ duo. beautiful swimmers and founder of the dance label World build. “People call this sound, basically, ‘Afrobeats’.” It is also similar to kwaito (“essentially 90s South African house,” Goldman said) and amapiena new iteration of the genre that is currently exploding on TikTok.
As if those sound shows weren’t club-worthy enough, the sight of a grinning cat perched atop a robot vacuum adds a layer of absurdity that makes me laugh as I watch it roll across the floor. According to a Fisher-Price spokesperson, the Cat on a Vac draws conclusions from the brand game lab ― where kids test out toys in real time ― and applied them to a “trend that was popping up on social media from cats on robot vacuum cleaners.”
If you’re ready to add the cat on a vacuum cleaner to your repertoire, you can shop it below. I’ve included a handful of other musical toys, some of which I own, that feature silly soundtracks that don’t take themselves too seriously.
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A very small orchestra contained in a cube
This cube-shaped toy has large, user-friendly buttons that each “play” a different instrument (including a flute, French horn, harp, and piano), and a button on top will activate the whole “l ‘orchestra”. Of all the musical toys that have been brought to my house, this one is probably the most melodic, offering a smoother, more classic sound instead of the jarring carnival tunes that most toys produce.
A talking piggy bank
Veteran parents will likely recognize this interactive piggy bank from a 4.9-star rating and over 18,000 reviews on Amazon – many of which attest to the toy’s ability to keep kids busy for hours, developing their fine motor skills. when they drop coins into the slot. It also spouts words of encouragement in English and Spanish, as well as 40 songs, tunes and phrases.
A bright mixing bowl
This ready-to-use mixing bowl comes with six “ingredients” that activate changing colors and playful tunes upon touching the inside of the container. My kids have it in their collection too, and my husband and I find ourselves repeating the show-tune-y version of the ABC it plays on repeat.