There are some scientific reasons for this bizarre attraction, actually
Sure, Marvin Gaye is known to set a certain type of mood, but his work is appreciated by the family of one-year-old Brilynn Thornton due to an entirely different set of circumstances.
The family said they first noticed their daughter’s affinity to the singer’s sexy hit, “Let’s Get It On,” when it popped up incidentally during a TV commercial for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. “Every time we saw it would come on (the commercial), she would just stop what she was doing and drop everything and turn around and look,” her dad Blaine Thornton said.
After seeing her response, they’ve found the song to be some sort or magical aural elixir that, within the first few bars, seems to bring her right out of any funk or fussing.
When a parent learns a trick like that, they hold onto it like grim death, even if the subject matter might be a little adult for, say, a one-year-old (or even a ten-year-old).
So, I’m sure parents and nonparents alike are wondering what is it about this romantic number that makes Brilynn or any baby respond in such a thoughtful, devotional way?
Well, that’s a tricky question to answer because … no one knows. A one-year-old such as Brilynn is right on the threshold of when it’s believed that children start to innately wrap their heads around the concept of pitch and key. This National Geographic article features an interview with Dr. Laurel Trainor, director of McMaster University's’s Institute for Music and the Mind.
In it, she states, “Infants also prefer what is called ‘infant-directed’ singing. Around the world, caregivers sing to infants in a way that differs from most other kinds of singing—usually in a conversational style, with a lot of repetition, high in pitch, slow in tempo, and in a loving tone of voice. Infants prefer this over other styles of singing.”
It’s a safe bet that Marvin Gaye didn’t have pacifying babies in mind (although he was probably thinking about making them, and he DOES say “baby" a lot in the song), but incidentally, the song’s characteristics that make it so suitable for lovemaking—a slow, sultry beat coupled with small crescendos—might be what make it so amenable to a small child.
Similarly, Dr. Trainor states that babies, being fairly unsophisticated listeners, tend to prefer songs that are simply and conventionally pleasing. That is to say, they would probably the consonant sounds of The Jackson 5 or a lullaby more than a dissonant exercise like a Radiohead B-side. “Let’s Get It On” is conventionally consonant, so that’s a point in its favor as well.
Or perhaps, more likely, we’re overthinking this whole thing, and since the kid’s first experience with the song was an ad that featured a chocolate bunny, she feels as if chocolate is in store any time the song’s distinctive intro starts up.
Oh, you’re probably in the mood for some Marvin Gaye now. We got ya covered.