Thursday, December 22, 2011

This day in music - December 22, 1958: Alvin and the Chipmunks' "The Chipmunk Song" hits #1

"Christmas Don't Be Late" may or may not be the better-known name for the song, but it's formally called "The Chipmunk Song." Whatever the name, for those of a certain age, this is one of the worst ear worms of all time. If you don't know what an ear worm is, it's a song or melody that you can't get out of your head, no matter how hard you try.

"The Chipmunk Song" was written by Ross Bagdasarian (a.k.a. Dave Seville) in 1958. You may recall that Dave was the name of the Chipmunks' adoptive father who, strangely enough, was a human cartoon character, while the Chipmunks were cartoon chipmunks, if you know what I mean. I'm sure there's a backstory, I just don't really care.

I assume that most people are familiar with The Chipmunks, or at least the remake. Although Bagdasarian wrote and sung the song, credit is given to The Chipmunks, a fictitious singing group consisting of Alvin, Simon, and Theodore, who are chipmunk brothers. The sound of The Chipmunks was created, as you might imagine, by speeding up the playback.

Although the song was produced as a one-off novelty number, The Chipmunks was later made into a cartoon of its own, airing from 1961 to 1962. This would have been where I was introduced to them. Although it only lasted one season on CBS, it went into syndication and lived on from there.

As for "The Chipmunk Song," it won three Grammy Awards in 1958: Best Comedy Performance, Best Children's Recording, and Best Engineering Record (non-classical).

Like I said, it's an ear worm. I apologize ahead of time for what this might do to your day.

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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