Crazy Frog



Crazy Frog is a character used in the marketing of a ring tone based on "The Annoying Thing", a computer animation created by Erik Wernquist. Marketed by the ringtone provider Jamba! (known as Jamster! in English-speaking markets and China), the animation was originally created to accompany a sound effect produced by Daniel Malmedahl while attempting to imitate the sound of a two-stroke moped engine. It is sometimes referred to (especially in the "Axel F" video) as "The Most Annoying Thing in the World" or as "The Annoying Thing".

The Crazy Frog spawned a worldwide hit single with a remix of "Axel F", which reached the number one spot in the UK, Australia, New Zealand and most of Europe, and became very popular in the United States for a short while. The subsequent album Crazy Frog Presents Crazy Hits and second single "Popcorn" also enjoyed worldwide chart success, and the release of a second album entitled Crazy Frog Presents More Crazy Hits was announced in 2006. The Crazy Frog has also spawned a range of merchandise and toys, and a video game, all of which were very popular for Christmas 2005. Negotiations are also underway for a TV series based on the character.

The title character in The Annoying Thing is an anthropomorphic amphibian that is quite frog-like in appearance. The character wears only a white motorcycle helmet with the chinstrap unfastened, a leather jacket, and goggles. His toes are webbed, and the iris of the left eye is significantly larger than that of the right. An upper right front tooth is missing. Also present is a set of ambiguous but controversial genitalia.

In the original animation, the character imitates the hand movements required to rotate the twistgrip controls of a motorcycle while making the sound of an engine ignition. As the imaginary engine starts, the character begins to levitate as exhaust fumes are discharged from his body. The character then disappears into the distance at high speed.

In 1997, 17-year-old Swede Daniel Malmedahl recorded himself impersonating the sounds produced by internal combustion engines. He posted this on a website and caught the attention of a Swedish television researcher, who convinced Daniel to perform the sound live on air. After Daniel's television debut, recordings of his performance began appearing on peer to peer file sharing networks and various websites under the filename "2TAKTARE.MP3" ("Tvåtaktare" is Swedish for "Two stroker").

The sound effect was quickly included in other Flash animations that spread virally among Internet users. The most notable example was the Insanity test, which required test subjects to keep a straight face while staring at a still photograph of Rubens Barrichello in a Ferrari Formula 1 car as the sound effect was played.

In late-2000, Malmedahl's fellow Swede Erik Wernquist encountered the sound effect and was inspired to create the 3D animation "The Annoying Thing" to accompany it. Erik used the LightWave 3D modelling application to produce the animation and posted it on his website. The animation was a popular attraction at Erik's website, but the sound was credited to "Anonymous". Eventually, word reached Daniel that his impressions had been used in a now well-known animation. He contacted Erik, apparently giving an impromptu performance to confirm his claims. Erik was convinced, and gave due credit to Daniel for his creation. It was broadcast for the first time on two Belgian commercials for Ringtone Europe and Jamster België (now both merged into Jamba!) in mid-2001.

In 2004, the Germany based Jamba! group (ultimately owned by VeriSign) licensed the animation and sound for distribution as a mobile phone ringtone. Jamba! (trading under names such as Jamster!, RingtoneKing, and others) accompanied the release of the ringtone with a barrage of advertising. It soon became the most recognisable commercially available ringtone in the United Kingdom, and became popular in the United States by mid-to-late 2005.

Jamba! have earned an estimated £14 million from the ringtone, making it the most commercially successful ringtone of all time. Jamba! have also produced other successful animated creature ringtones, including Sweety the Chick and Nessie the Dragon, and produced other ringtones featuring the Crazy Frog including Crazy DJ Frog. There is also a series of Crazy Frog World Tour tones featuring the Frog performing his usual vocalisations against backgrounds of various countries' musical styles. These include the sitar-based "Crazy Frog India", reggae-flavoured "Crazy Frog Jamaica" and Jimmy Barnes-esque "Crazy Frog Australian Rock". Jamba! also have available "The Crazy Frog is Puking", "Crazy Frog and Its Girlfriend", in which he is apparently making out, and "The Crazy Frog is Fucking" [sic], in which gasping and smacking skin can be heard.

The Crazy Frog phenomenon is continuing to make inroads in the US. Potential Crazy Frog enthusiasts have begun participating in a community based ringtones project at Community Ringtones (www.communityringtones.com) where all participants are invited to submit their sounds.

Broadcast Belgium Compacts S.A. got to be the pioneer of the adverts of the Crazy Frog and Jamba! (then called Ringtone Europe) was giving away Crazy Frog adverts. And the Frog was broadcast for the first time on two Belgian commercials from Ringtone Europe and Jamster België in mid-2001.

By 2004, the adverts moved all over the world. But there was a problem:

* In February 2005, viewers submitted a number of complaints to the United Kingdom's Advertising Standards Authority regarding Jamba!'s advertising campaign, complaining that Crazy Frog appeared to have genitalia. Some parents complained that this made inappropriate viewing for children, claiming that the commercial had prompted embarrassing questions. There were also complaints regarding the frequency with which the advertisement appeared on television, reportedly up to twice an hour across most of the day, with some channels showing it more than once per commercial break.

The ASA did not uphold the complaints, pointing out that the advert was already classified as inappropriate for airing during children's television programmes as it contained a premium rate telephone number, and furthermore added that it was the broadcasters' decision as to how often an advertisement should be shown. However, Jamba! voluntarily censored the character's genital area in later broadcasts of its advertisements. The full adjudication (PDF) is available online. Similar action occurred in Australia, with similar results. complaints dismissed (PDF).

In April 2005, television viewers complained about misleading advertisements produced by Jamba!, trading as Jamster! and RingtoneKing. Viewers felt that it was not made sufficiently clear that they were subscribing to a service, rather than paying a one-time fee for their ringtone. The complaints were upheld; the full adjudication (PDF) is available online. It costs £3 a week to subscribe to Jamster!'s service. The complaints consisted mainly of parents, who felt like their children were being mislead. They felt that Jamster! was exploiting their children, in order for them to make greater profits.

In May 2005, viewers inundated the ASA with new complaints regarding the continuous airing of the latest Crazy Frog advertisements. The intensity of the advertising was unprecedented in British television history. According to The Guardian, Jamster bought 73,716 spots across all TV channels in May alone – an average of nearly 2,378 slots daily – at a cost of about £8 million, just under half of which was spent on ITV. 87% of the population saw the Crazy Frog adverts an average of 26 times, 15% of the adverts appeared twice during the same advertising break and 66% were in consecutive ad breaks. An estimated 10% of the population saw the advert more than 60 times. This led to many members of the population finding the crazy frog, as its original name suggests, immensely irritating. (source: Media Guardian, 20 June 2005)

As the authority had already adjudicated on the matter and confirmed the matter was not within its remit, the unusual step was taken of adding a notice to their online and telephone complaints system informing viewers that Jamster!-related complaints should be directed towards the broadcaster or the regulator, Ofcom.

On 21 September 2005, the ASA ruled that the Crazy Frog, along with other Jamba ringtone advertisements, must be shown after 9pm. This adjudication was revised on 25 January 2006, maintaining the 'upheld' decision but revising the wording of one of the points (pdf).

In March 2005, anti-virus vendors discovered the W32/Crog.worm computer virus (a contraction of Crazy Frog), which spreads through file-sharing networks and MSN Messenger, exploiting the Crazy Frog's notoriety with a promise of an animation depicting his demise.

In early 2005, two members of the German Bass Bumpers dance music production team were commissioned to record a dance single based around the Crazy Frog ringtone. They produced "Axel F" (a remix of the 1980's Harold Faltenmeyer song), which was released on May 23, 2005 and became one of the most successful singles of the year 2005. "Axel F" debuted at number one in the UK, remaining there for three weeks and outselling the nearest contender Coldplay by three or four copies to one. Similar success took place in Australia and many parts of Europe, and the song remained on the charts for many months in various countries worldwide. However the song apparently failed to catch on as well in the US and Japan, where it reached #50 and #48 respectively. The "Axel F" music video was produced by Kaktus Film and Erik Wernquist, and centers on the pursuit of the Crazy Frog by a bounty hunter named Deathunter. He reprises his role as pursuer of the Crazy Frog in all subsequent videos.

Popcorn (a remix of the Hot Butter song) was released on August 22 and premiered with a choreographed cheerleader performance on Top of the Pops. The single reached #12 in the UK untill being knocked off by rapper Tupac's single 'Ghetto Gospel'. It also reached #16 in Australia and Top 20 in much of Europe, in many cases while "Axel F" was still charting.

Riding on the popularity of these initial single releases, an album entitled Crazy Frog Presents Crazy Hits was released on July 25. It contained several Frog remixes of existing songs like "Pump Up the Jam" and the Pink Panther theme, as well as several original tracks such as "In the 80's" and "Dirty Frog". It reached #5 in the UK, #8 in Australia and topped the charts in New Zealand. Surprisingly the album performed much better in the US than the "Axel F" single, reaching #19.

A special Christmas edition of Crazy Hits with numerous holiday-themed bonus tracks was released in November, backed with a double A-side single release of "Jingle Bells/U Can't Touch This". The single peaked at #4 in Australia and #5 in the UK.

In May 2006 the Crazy Frog contributed two tracks to a British compilation album entitled Football Crazy released to coincide with the 2006 World Cup - "Ole Ole Ole (Do the Froggy Wave)" and "Na Na Na, Hey Hey". A sophomore album entitled Crazy Frog Presents More Crazy Hits was released in June 2006, continuing in the musical vein of the first release with Frog versions of songs such as "Ice Ice Baby", "I Will Survive" and "I'm Too Sexy". The first single release is "We Are the Champions (Ding a Dang Dong)", again a World Cup-oriented track perhaps drawing inspiration from the earlier Football Crazy songs.

On February 17, 2005, a group of producers naming themselves Pondlife announced the release of an unofficial single featuring the Crazy Frog sound entitled "Ring Ding Ding". This release was backed by DJs Wes Butters, Trevor Jordan and Daryl Denham along with studio-owner Maurice Cheetham.

On March 19, 2005, Pondlife held open auditions to find a live action Crazy Frog to star in their accompanying music video. "Ring Ding Ding" was released on 6 June 2005 and reached #11 on the UK Singles Chart, two weeks after the Axel F version had charted.

An anti-Crazy Frog single named "Kill The Frog" by Frog Must Die was released in the UK on June 20. Since the song did not appear in the top 250 of the UK Singles Chart, it is unclear whether the single was postponed, or simply failed to sell enough copies. As the name suggests, this CD is about killing the Crazy Frog.

On June 27, 2005, a dancehall reggae song by L.O.C. sampling the Crazy Frog sound titled "Ring Ding Ding (Frog)" was released in the UK. It reached #58 on the UK pop charts, and higher on reggae charts.

On July 1, 2005, UK-based publishers Digital Jesters announced that they had acquired the rights to the video game licence for the Crazy Frog. Crazy Frog Racer, released in December 2005, is a racing game for the PlayStation 2, Game Boy Advance, PC and Nintendo DS.

A string of Crazy Frog merchandise was released in the UK, under the name "The Annoying Thing" due to copyright and licensing restrictions. These items were picked as big sellers for Christmas 2005, particularly the Annoying Thing Singing Plush which plays the ringtone when squeezed. Other products available include a board game, a desktop nodder, keyring, backpack, lunchbox and air freshener. However, there are bootlegged versions of the Crazy Frog plush. The only way to tell the difference is the goggles; the imitations have big padded goggles whereas the originals have small, rounded open goggles.

The German production company The League of Good People is in talks with broadcasters about a TV series based on Crazy Frog, and video clips of Crazy Frog can be seen on Cartoon Network.

The Crazy Frog toured Australia in late 2005, beginning in Perth on December 4 and continuing through other major capital cities. He made appearances at numerous shopping centres and major hospitals around the country.

Albums:

* Crazy Frog Presents Crazy Hits (2005)
* Crazy Frog Presents More Crazy Hits (2006)

Singles:

* "Axel F" (2005)
* "Popcorn" (2005)
* "Jingle Bells/U Can't Touch This" (2005)
* "We Are the Champions (Ding a Dang Dong)" (2006)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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