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Erik Wernquist

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Erik Wernquist

Crazy Frog
Background information
Origin Gothenburg, Sweden
Genres Eurodance
Years active 1997–2002, 2006-present
Labels Ministry of Sound, Universal, Mach 1

Crazy Frog, originally known as The Annoying Thing, is a computer-animated character created in 2003 by Swedish actor and playwright Erik Wernquist. Marketed by the ringtone provider Jamba! (later known as Jamster), the animation was originally created to accompany a sound effect produced by Daniel Malmedahl in 1997 while attempting to imitate the sound of a two-stroke engine.

The Crazy Frog spawned a worldwide hit single with a remix of "Axel F", which reached the number one spot in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Turkey, New Zealand, Australia and most of Europe. The subsequent album Crazy Frog Presents Crazy Hits and second single "Popcorn" also enjoyed worldwide chart success, and a second album entitled Crazy Frog Presents More Crazy Hits was released in 2006. The Crazy Frog has also spawned a range of merchandise and toys, and two video games.

History

In 1997, 17-year-old Gothenburg student Daniel Malmedahl recorded himself impersonating the noises 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.[1] After it debuted on television, recordings of his performance began appearing on file sharing networks and various websites under the filename "2TAKTARE.MP3" ("Tvåtaktare" is Swedish for "Two stroker"). The sound was adopted as the sound of a formula one car as early as 2001 in the form of "Deng Deng Form" and later "The Insanity Test" both of which were a static background of a Ferrari Formula One car accompanied by the sound.[2] However the sound was later adopted as that of a motorcycle for its most well known format.

In late 2003, another Swede, Erik Wernquist encountered the sound effect and, not knowing about the previous incarnations of the sound, was inspired to create the 3D animated character he named "The Annoying Thing" to accompany it.[3] Wernquist worked on the first animation in his spare time using the LightWave 3D modeling application, and the whole process took between 6 to 8 weeks.[3] In October 2003 he posted it on his website and on the CGTalk forum.[3]

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 credit to Daniel for his creation.

The animation received attention through filesharing and word of mouth, and when Ringtone Europe and Jamster België (now both merged into Jamba!) got wind of this, realizing the monetary possibilities through capitalizing on the underground cult-status they licensed the rights to the creation, renaming it "Crazy Frog" and starting to market it in mid-2004.

In an interview with HitQuarters Wernquist expressed his displeasure at the choice of name:

“If I had known that this was going to be such a big thing I would not have allowed them to use that stupid name. It has nothing to do with the character. It’s not a frog and it’s not particularly crazy either”[3]

Creators

Erik Wernquist

Erik Wernquist (born 1 August 1977) is known for his 3-D animation "The Annoying Thing", now known as the Crazy Frog.

He grew up in the municipality of Lidingö outside Stockholm, Sweden where he worked with people associated with the Sagateatern theatre group, notably Michael Lindgren (appearing in the Swedish 1980s television series Ebba och Didrik) and Henrik Dorsin. Together with these people, he created several plays, sometimes only acting, but also playwriting and directing.

Daniel Malmedahl

Daniel Malmedahl (born 1980) is a computer components salesman from Gothenburg, Sweden who is best known for developing the "ring ding ding" voice of the Crazy Frog.[4] The sound was created while trying to create an imitation of a two-stroke moped engine. In late-2003, Malmedahl's fellow Swede Erik Wernquist encountered the sound effect and was inspired to create the 3D animation "The Annoying Thing" (Crazy Frog) to accompany it.

Musical history

The Crazy Frog was broadcast for the first time on Belgian Television in mid-2004.[5] There it was marketed as Albert Motàr.[6]

"Axel F" (a remix of the 1980s Harold Faltermeyer song produced by the Germans Matthias Wagner, Andreas Dohmeyer, Reinhard Raith and Henning Reith[7]), was released on 23 May 2005 and became one of the most successful singles of the year 2005. "Axel F" debuted at number one in the UK,[8] remaining there for four weeks.

Unofficial releases

On 19 March 2005, Pondlife held open auditions to find a live action Crazy Frog to star in their accompanying music video.[9]

Controversy

In February 2005, viewers submitted a number of complaints to the United Kingdom's Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) regarding Jamster!'s advertising campaign, complaining that Crazy Frog appeared to have a visible penis and scrotum. Some parents complained that this made inappropriate viewing for children.[10] 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,[11] 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 that it was the broadcasters' decision how often an advertisement should be shown.[12] Jamster! voluntarily censored the character's genital area (via pixelization) in later broadcasts of its advertisements. Similar action occurred in Australia, with similar results.[13]

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.[14]

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.[15]

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.[11][16]

On 21 September 2005, the ASA ruled that the Crazy Frog, along with other Jamba ringtone advertisements, could not be shown before 9 pm. This adjudication was revised on 25 January 2006, maintaining the 'upheld' decision but revising the wording of one of the points.[17][18]

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.[19][20]

Other incarnations

On 1 July 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 (featuring The Annoying Thing), released in December 2005 on PlayStation 2 and PC as a racing game. A year later in 2006 a sequel was released, entitled 'Crazy Frog Racer 2'. Both were extremely panned by critics.[21]

A string of Crazy Frog merchandise was released in the UK,[22]

The German production company The League of Good People is in talks with broadcasters about a TV series based on Crazy Frog.[23]

The Crazy Frog toured Australia in late 2005, beginning in Perth on 4 December and continuing through other major capital cities. He made appearances at numerous shopping centres and major hospitals around the country.[24]

In 2007 the Animation World Network wrote in connection with The Annoying Thing that there was a "planned feature film" to "be completed by the end of next year" into an animated feature film.[25]

Discography

Albums

List of albums, with selected chart positions and certifications
Title Album details Peak chart positions Certifications
SWE
[26]
AUS
[27]
CAN
[28]
FRA
[29]
GER
[30]
IRE
[31]
NZ
[32]
SWI
[33]
UK
[34]
US
[35]
Crazy Hits 6 22 1 4 6 13 1 4 5 19
More Crazy Hits
  • Released: 26 June 2006
  • Label: Ministry of Sound
  • Format: CD, digital download
19 38 4 8 17 20 14 64 40
Everybody Dance Now
  • Released: 19 August 2009
  • Label: Ministry of Sound
  • Format: CD, digital download
23
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

Singles

List of singles, with selected chart positions and certifications, showing year released and album name
Title Year Peak chart positions Certifications Album
SWE
[26]
AUS
[27]
BEL
(FL)

[43]
FRA
[29]
GER
[44]
IRE
[31]
NZ
[32]
SWI
[33]
UK
[34]
US
[45]
"Axel F" 2005 1 1 1 1 3 1 1 1 1 50 Crazy Hits
"Popcorn" 9 11 11 1 35 14 1 6 12
"Jingle Bells"[A] 10 4 2 5 11 1 5
"We Are the Champions (Ding a Dang Dong)" 2006 11 13 10 1 10 23 20 5 11 More Crazy Hits
"Last Christmas"[A] 10 30 19 19 16 19 16
"Crazy Frog in the House" 2007 38 12 22 19
"Daddy DJ" 2009 4 Everybody Dance Now
"Cha Cha Slide" 18
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

Notes

  • A ^ ^ In some territories, "Jingle Bells" was released as a double A-side single with a cover of MC Hammer's "U Can't Touch This", whereas in others it was released as a double A-side single with "Last Christmas": the latter was later released as a single in its own right.

See also

References

External links

  • Includes an interview with the creator of the sound, Daniel Malmedahl.
  • ASA: A Frog's Tale that spawned viewer outrage.
  • Erik Wernquist interview
  • Two kids miming and dancing with over 16 million views on different sites.
  • Interview, HitQuarters Oct 2005
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