What do Paul McCartney and Kim Kardashian have in common? They both have an appreciation for Kanye West. They both claim credit for the rise of the selfie. And now, they are both all-aboard the emoji bandwagon.
The former Beatle has composed a set of audible emoji, outfitting a few cute digital icons with sounds for Skype. (Kim's own line of emoji, Kimoji, launched in December.) It's a special line of 10 cutesy expressions (Skype calls them "Moji") for Valentine's Day, which McCartney hopes people will use to send "messages of love, et cetera."
He says it was "a great laugh" but also a challenge to compress a musical interpretation of an expression into less than five seconds.
McCartney began his compositions on a Moog synthesizer, an instrument the Beatles revolutionized in their 1969 album Abbey Road, also recording the sounds of various instruments, including guitar, harpsichord, xylophone and drums to match the movements of oddball characters.
There's a tune playing as two koi fish circle each other.
The sounds of strumming as two snakes intertwine, tongues out.
Then there's a purple octopus (sans garden), holding in its tentacles flowers, chocolates, champagne and, briefly, fuzzy handcuffs. For that one, McCartney sings, "doo dee doo dee" over harpsichord notes.
And in case there are any questions of authorship, every Moji bearing McCartney's sounds in the Skype messenger comes with a tiny copyright for MPL Communications, his company.
Skype's run at nonverbal cues for its text-based messaging builds on the ever-growing popularity of emoji and GIFs — and of course, the increasingly screen-based dating world. Its messenger has a bunch of other Mojis, created in partnerships with Universal Studios, Disney Muppets and the BBC, and Skype says users have sent half a billion of these audio emoji since their introduction last September.
But if you find the idea a bit, um, out there, know this: McCartney had his doubts, too.
"At first I thought, hmm, strange proposition, is this for me?" he says in the video. "And then I thought, yeah, you know what, why not?"
Naomi LaChance is a business news intern at NPR.