The Chipmunks

The Chipmunks are a fictional musical group, created by Ross Bagdasarian in 1958. The group consists of three singing chipmunks: Alvin, the mischievous troublemaker, who quickly became the star of the group, Simon, the tall bespectacled intellectual, and Theodore, the chubby, impressionable sweetheart. The trio is "managed" by their human "father" and confidant, David "Dave" Seville. In reality, David Seville was Ross Bagdasarian's stage name, and the Chipmunks themselves are named after the executives of their original record label, Liberty Records: Alvin Bennett (the president), Simon Waronker (the founder and owner), and Theodore Keep (the chief engineer).

After first being brought to life in Bagdasarian's 1950s novelty recordings under the name David Seville and the Chipmunks, the characters were an unprecedented success, and the singing Chipmunks and their manager were given life in several animated cartoon series and motion pictures. At the present time, the characters are perceived as cartoon characters that also released some accompanying music, which is the inverse of their early existence.

The voices of the group were all performed by Bagdasarian, who sped up the playback to create the higher pitched squeaky voices. This process was not entirely new; Bagdasarian had also used it for a previous novelty song project "The Witch Doctor", but it was so unusual and well executed it earned the "trio" two Grammy Awards for engineering. Although the characters were fictional, they did release a long line of "real" albums and singles, with "The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late)" becoming a number-one hit single in the United States. After his death in 1972, the voices of the Chipmunks were subsequently recorded by his son, Ross Bagdasarian, Jr., and his wife, Janice Karman, in all subsequent incarnations to date.

* Alvin: Alvin is an emotional roller coaster and the leader. His enthusiasm is boundless and his despair bottomless. The term "look before you leap" definitely does not apply to Alvin, who is impulsive, charming, musical, and full of animal magnetism. What others might characterize as half-baked schemes, Alvin prefers to see them as "challenging the ordinary". Alvin also does not like anyone touching his cap, as seen in Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet Frankenstein, where he goes, “Don't touch the cap!”. He does stick up for his little brother Theodore when bullies are bothering him. Alvin's signature color is red.

* Simon: Being the eldest and having an I.Q. just north of Albert Einstein, Simon possesses a very dry sense of humor as well as a keen wit. His chess master mind allows him to anticipate Alvin's "harebrained schemes" (Simon's phrase, not Alvin's) and devise a solution that is inevitably required. Although Simon loves Alvin, Simon secretly worries about the fact that they share the same gene pool. However, Simon will drop whatever he's doing to help his brothers whenever they need him. Simon's signature color is blue.

* Theodore: Being the youngest, Theodore is the child of innocence. He is shy, loving, sensitive, gullible, trusting and naive. In short, he is an easy target for Alvin's manipulations. In fact, Theodore often holds the swing vote between his two brothers choices of action. Simon appeals to Theodore's better nature, while Alvin goes straight to bribery. His sweet nature usally make him an easy target for bullies, but then they'll have to answer to his big brother Alvin. Little known facts are that Theodore is afraid of heights, and sometimes carries his teddy bear with him. Theodore's signature color is green.

* David "Dave" Seville: Like any other single parent trying to raise three kids, let alone three hyperactive chipmunks, Dave has his patience tested on a daily basis. Not only does he juggle his professional life as the songwriter for the musical trio, but he is also the Chipmunks' father and confidant. While Dave struggles to remain calm and objective, Alvin often pushes him over the edge, reducing Dave to his patented yell “ALVIN!!!”.

In early 1958, Ross Bagdasarian released a novelty song, under his stage name "David Seville", about being unlucky at love until he found a Witch Doctor who told him the "magic words" to woo his woman. The entire song was done by Bagdasarian in his normal voice, except for the "magic" words, done first in Bagdasarian's sped-up, pre-Chipmunk voice, then in a duet between his sped-up voice and his normal voice. The words, of course, are nonsense: "Oo-ee, oo-ah-ah, ting-tang, walla-walla, bing-bang".

The song was a major hit, sitting at Number 1 in the Billboard Hot 100 chart for three weeks during the spring, and the Witch Doctor's "magic words" were being sung by kids everywhere. Although nothing in the song makes any reference to chipmunks, the song is now sometimes included on Chipmunk compilations, as if the Chipmunks themselves had provided the voice of the Witch Doctor...which, technically speaking, is true. (Bagdasarian did record a "Chipmunks" version of "Witch Doctor," which appeared on the second Chipmunks album, Sing Again With The Chipmunks, in 1960.)

The Chipmunks first officially appeared on the scene in a novelty record released in late fall 1958 by Bagdasarian. The song, known at first as just "The Chipmunk Song" and later subtitled "Christmas Don't Be Late", featured the singing skills of the chipmunk trio. The novelty record was highly successful, selling more than 4 million copies in seven weeks, and it launched the careers of its chipmunk stars. It spent four weeks at Number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart from December 27, 1958 to January 19, 1959. It also earned three Grammy Awards and a nomination for Record of the Year. At the height of its popularity, Bagdasarian and three chipmunk hand-puppets appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, lip-synching the song.

While the series was being prepared for broadcast, an imitation, the Nutty Squirrels, beat them to the market, but was less successful, despite catchy scat singing.

The first television series to feature the characters was The Alvin Show. The cartoon gave more distinctive looks and personalities to the three chipmunks than just their voices, and an animated portrayal of David Seville was a reasonable caricature of Bagdasarian himself. The series ran from 1961 to 1962, and was one of a small number of animated series to be shown in prime time on CBS. It was not immediately successful and was cancelled after one season, only to find new life in syndication.

In addition to Alvin cartoons, the series also featured the scientist Clyde Crashcup and his assistant Leonardo. Those characters did not feature prominently on any of the later series. Crashcup made a single cameo appearance in A Chipmunk Christmas, and in an episode of Alvin and the Chipmunks.

The first television series was produced by Format Films for Bagdasarian Film Corporation. Although the series was broadcast in black and white, it was produced and later re-run in color. 26 episodes each were produced for the Alvin and the Chipmunks and Clyde Crashcup segments, along with 52 musical segments.

The final Chipmunks album in their original incarnation, The Chipmunks Go To The Movies, was released in 1969. After the death of Ross Bagdasarian in 1972 from a heart attack, the Chipmunks' careers stalled until NBC showed interest in the original show (the network carried Saturday morning reruns of The Alvin Show as a midseason replacement in 1979) and the following year, Excelsior Records released a new album of contemporary songs performed by the Chipmunks. The new album—Chipmunk Punk—featured the late Ross's son, Ross Bagdasarian Jr., doing the voices of the characters. That album and the continued reruns of the series proved to be popular enough to warrant further new records as well as a new television production, and in 1981, the Chipmunks and David Seville returned to television in the Christmas special A Chipmunk Christmas, produced by Chuck Jones, which was first broadcast on NBC on December 14 of that year.

In 1983, the second cartoon series, produced by Ruby-Spears, was released. Titled simply Alvin and the Chipmunks, the outline of the show closely paralleled the original Alvin Show. The show lasted eight production seasons, until 1991. In the first season, the show introduced The Chipettes, three female versions of the Chipmunks — Brittany, Jeanette, and Eleanor — with their own human counterpart, the myopic Miss Beatrice Miller. Many fans consider this the moment when the show jumped the shark. After 1988, the show was renamed just The Chipmunks to indicate that there were now two groups of them. Also introduced was the boy's Uncle Harry, who may or may not have actually been a relative. The show reflected current trends and historical events in pop culture; the Chipmunks sang recent hits, and wore contemporary clothing. One "documentary" episode spoofed John Lennon's 1966 comment that the Beatles had become "more popular than Jesus", by recalling how the Chipmunks had fallen in popularity after Alvin boasted they were "bigger than Mickey Mouse!"

In 1987, during the fifth season of the show on television, the Chipmunks had their first (and thus far, only) animated feature film, The Chipmunk Adventure, directed by Janice Karman and released to theatres by Columbia Pictures. The film featured the Chipmunks and the Chipettes in a contest traveling around the world. Other than improved production values, the movie was more of an extended and enhanced episode of the series.

In the 1988–89 season, the show switched production companies to DiC Entertainment and Columbia TriStar Television, by which time the Chipmunks had truly become anthropomorphized. In 1990, the show switched titles again: The Chipmunks Go to the Movies. Each episode in this season was a spoof of a Hollywood film, such as Back to the Future, King Kong, and others. In addition, several television specials featuring the characters were also released. At the conclusion of the eighth season, the show was cancelled again.

In 1990, a documentary was produced about the show entitled Alvin and the Chipmunks/Five Decades with the Chipmunks. In that year, the Chipmunks also teamed up for the first and only time with other contemporary cartoons (such as Bugs Bunny, Garfield, etc.) for the drug abuse-prevention special Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue.

In 1996, the rights to the characters were purchased by Columbia Pictures and TriStar Pictures. This resulted in The Chipmunks' 1999 reappearance in the form of the direct-to-video movie Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet Frankenstein. The movie was successful enough to spark interest in a sequel, and in 2000, Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet the Wolfman appeared. Both movies featured the "original" cast of the second series reprising their roles and the tone of the movies are very similar to the series. These film titles reflect earlier horror spoofs by Abbott and Costello.

A live-action movie called Little Alvin and the Mini-Munks [1] was released on April 27, 2004 (April 24, 2005 according IMDb [2]). It features puppetry used for the Chipmunks and Chipettes. In this movie, when Dave (Ross Bagdasarian, Jr.) goes out of town, he leaves the young Chipmunks and the Chipettes in the care of Lalu (Janice Karman), a friend who is happy to have six pre-schoolers stay with her. Lalu lives in a magic cottage with Gilda (a talking cockatoo), and PC (a talking frog who believes he is one kiss away from being Prince Charming). There are also Sam and Lou, two gophers who report to the viewers about the feelings the characters are experiencing. While at Lalu's, the kids learn and sing about separation, jealousy, telling the truth, sharing, and other life lessions. Theodore learns about telling the truth, and not to put things into the toilet; Alvin learns about helping Eleanor (the infant); and Jeanette learns that she cannot "borrow" Brittany's lipstick. The direct-to-video feature was directed and co-written by Jerry Rees, who also animated all the CGI effects and voiced two characters. The budget for the project was unusually low, at $600,000.

In 2000, Bagdasarian Productions sued Universal Pictures for breach of contract, in order to recoup monentary damages and to regain control of the Alvin and the Chipmunks characters. If that lawsuit is not successful, the contract will expire in 2006.

In 2004, Fox 2000 Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox Animation and Bagdasarian Productions announced a live-action/CGI adaptation of the original 1960's series, though no information has been released since the project was announced. It is unknown if production has stalled due to complications arising from the afforementioned contractual debacle, but as of yet it has not been officially cancelled.

The Chipmunks' voices were recorded onto audiotape by voice talent talking or singing at half the normal speed. When the tape was played back at double speed, they would sound a full octave higher in pitch, at normal tempo. The technique was by no means new to the Chipmunks. For example, the high and low pitched characters in The Wizard of Oz were achieved by speeding up and slowing down vocal recordings. Nowadays the same effect can be created digitally and in real time. The term "chipmunk-voiced" has entered the American vernacular to describe any artificially high-pitched voice.

The technique was frequently imitated in comedy records, notably "The Ying Tong Song" by The Goons, "Transistor Radio" by Benny Hill, "Bridget the Midget" by Ray Stevens, "The Laughing Gnome" by David Bowie, and on several tracks on Joe Meek and the Blue Men's album I hear a new world. The technique also appears in the instrumental break in Bobby Lewis' 1961 US #1 hit "Tossin' and Turnin'". It was also used extensively in the British puppet show Pinky and Perky.

Prince has also used the technique on several of his songs - "Erotic City" for example - as well as for his "Camille" alter ego.

Kanye West's technique of speeding up soul samples has led to his productions being compared to the Chipmunks.

However, the vocal technique is not always generated by a recording technique. Some fans of the band Gamma Ray have described the singer Kai Hansen's falsetto as "chipmunk-like" on the album No World Order.

* In the Simpsons episode "Homer's Barbershop Quartet", a record that Comic Book Guy has at the swap meet entitled "Melvin and the Squirrels", is a spoof of Alvin and the Chipmunks.

* Paul Hennesey (John Ritter) mentions Alvin, Simon, Theodore on the Halloween episode "Trick or Treehouse" of ABC's 8 Simple Rules.

* Ralph Bakshi's Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures featured a parody of the Chipmunks in the episode - "Mighty's Benefit Plan".

* In the Friends episode "The One Where Rachel Finds Out", when Ross asks Chandler if he knows who Carl is, Chandler replies: "Uh, let's see... Alvin... Simon... Theodore.... no."

* The traits of the three main characters in Aqua Teen Hunger Force resemble those of the Chipmunks.

* Comedian Patton Oswalt has a popular joke regarding the Christmas song, in which he describes playing the song on a record at the slowest speed possible. The result is the Chipmunks sounding like "three normal, monotone guys singing a song about Christmas," while Dave Seville sounds like a "demon from the ninth level of murderers and traitors." In this bit, Patton does an impression of the slowed-down song, including a low, gravely voice in mock slow motion in place of Dave's voice.

* A recording of the show's theme song is usually played at Relient K concerts, right before the band takes the stage. The Christian rock band also released a Christmas album called Deck the Halls, Bruise Your Hand in 2003, and some copies of the album contained a bonus track of Alvin and the Chipmunks singing "The 12 Days of the Christmas".


* 1959: Let's All Sing with the Chipmunks
* 1960: Sing Again with the Chipmunks
* 1960: Around the World with the Chipmunks
* 1961: The Alvin Show
* 1962: Christmas with the Chipmunks, Vol. 1
* 1962: The Chipmunk Songbook
* 1963: Christmas with the Chipmunks, Vol. 2
* 1964: The Chipmunks Sing the Beatles Hits
* 1965: Chipmunks 'a-Go-Go
* 1965: The Chipmunks Sing with Children
* 1968: The Chipmunks See Doctor Dolittle
* 1969: The Chipmunks Go to the Movies
* 1980: Chipmunk Punk
* 1981: A Chipmunk Christmas
* 1981: Urban Chipmunk
* 1982: Chipmunk Rock
* 1982: The Chipmunks Go Hollywood
* 1984: Songs From Our TV Shows (Chipmunks album)
* 1987: The Chipmunk Adventure
* 1990: Rockin' Through the Decades
* 1992: Chipmunks In Low Places (Label: Sony Wonder, ASIN B0000028T3)
* 1992: Greatest Hits
* 1993: The Alternative Alvin (Label: SST, SST 226)
* 1993: Alvin's Christmas Carol
* 1993: Sing-Alongs
* 1994: Here's Looking at Me!
* 1995: Alvin's Daydreams
* 1995: Chipmunk Celebration
* 1995: Easter Chipmunk
* 1995: When You Wish Upon A Chipmunk
* 1995: A Very Merry Chipmunk
* 1995: The Very Best of The Chipmunks
* 1996: Club Chipmunk: The Dance Mixes
* 1998: The A-Files: Alien Songs
* 1999: Greatest Hits: Still Squeaky After All These Years
* 2003: Merry Christmas from the Chipmunks
* 2004: Little Alvin and the Mini-Munks


* 1958: "The Chipmunk Song" (US #1)
* 1959: "Alvin's Harmonica"
* 1960: "Ragtime Cowboy Joe"
* 1960: "Alvin's Orchestra"
* 1960: "Alvin for President"
* 1962: "America the Beautiful"
* 1960: "Rudolph, the Red-Reindeer"
* 1962: "The Alvin Twist"
* 1963: "Alvin's All Star Chipmunk Band"
* 1963: "Eefin' Alvin"
* 1963: "The Night Before Christmas"
* 1964: "All My Loving" (Beatles cover)
* 1965: "Do-re-mi"
* 1965: "I'm Henry VIII"
* 1968: "If I Could Talk to the Animals"
* 1968: "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang"
* 1980: "You May Be Right"
* 1980: "Call Me"
* 1981: "On The Road Again"
* 1981: "I Love A Rainy Night"
* 1982: "Heartbreaker"
* 1982: "E.T. And Me"
* 1983: "We're The Chipmunks/Beat It" (Michael Jackson cover)
* 1984: "Let's All Be There" (for NBC)
* 1985: "What Were You Doing At The Time?"
* 1985: "Sunday Bloody Sunday" (U2 cover)
* 1987: "The Girls of Rock & Roll"
* 1990: "Jingle Bells Finale"
* 1993: "Achy Breaky Heart" (Billy Ray Cyrus cover; 45, 1993, Epic 74776)
* 1994: "I Don't Want To Be Alone For Christmas (Unless I'm Alone With You)" (actually performed by James Ingram)
* 1996: "Macarena"
* 2002: "In Charge but Not Involved"
* 2003: "Remember a Day"

* 1959, won three Grammy Awards for Best Recording for Children, Best Comedy Performance, and Best Engineered Record - Non-Classical for the song "The Chipmunk Song." (Was also nominated for Record of the Year, but did not win.)
* 1960, won a Grammy Award for Best Engineered Recording, Non-Classical, for the song "Alvin's Harmonica."
* 1961, won a Grammy Award for Best Album for Children for the album Let's All Sing with the Chipmunks. (It was also nominated for Best Engineered Record, Non-Classical.) The song "Alvin for President" was also nominated for both Best Comedy Performance - Musical and Best Engineered Record - Novelty, making two nominations in the latter category.)
* 1962, was nominated again for a Grammy Award for Best Engineered Record - Novelty for the television tie-in album The Alvin Show.
* 1963, was nominated again for Grammy Awards for both Best Album for Children and Best Engineered Record - Novelty for the album The Chipmunk Songbook.
* 1966, was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Recording for Children for the song "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious".
* 1985, was nominated for an Emmy Award in the category "Outstanding Animated Program (Daytime)."
* 1987, the second television series was nominated for a Young Artist Award in the category "Exceptional Family Animation Series or Specials."
* 1987, was nominated for a Emmy Award in the category "Outstanding Animated Program (Daytime)."
* 1988, was nominated for a Emmy Award in the category "Outstanding Animated Program (Daytime)."
* 1988, was nominated for a Young Artist Award in the category "Best Motion Picture - Animation" for the movie The Chipmunk Adventure.
* 2000, won the Golden Reel Award in the category "Best Sound Editing - Direct to Video - Sound Editorial" for the movie Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet Frankenstein.

In total: five Grammy Awards and a Golden Reel Award.Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts.
Virtual Magic is a human knowledge database blog. Text Based On Information From Wikipedia, Under The GNU Free Documentation License. Copyright (c) 2007 Virtual Magic. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

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