Hampster Dance

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"Hampster Dance"
Single by Hampton the Hampster
from the album The Hampsterdance Album
Released July 3, 2000
Format CD single
Genre Eurodance
Length 3:34
Label ZYX Music
Writer(s) Roger Miller
R. DeBoer
A. Grace
Producer(s) The Boomtang Boys
Hampton the Hampster singles chronology
"Hampster Dance"
(2000)
"Thank God I'm A Country Boy"
(2000)

The Hampster Dance or Hampsterdance is one of the earliest examples of an Internet meme. Created by Canadian art student Deidre LaCarte for a Geocities page, the dance features rows of animated hamsters and other rodents dancing in various ways to a sped-up sample from the song "Whistle Stop" by Roger Miller.

History[edit]

Screen capture of original Hampster Dance.

Canadian art student Deidre LaCarte, who was competing with her best friend and sister to see who could generate the most traffic, designed the Hampster Dance in August 1998 as homage to her pet hamster, named "Hampton Hamster."[1] Using four simple animated GIFs of hamsters and other rodents, repeated dozens of times each, and a loop of background music embedded in the HTML, at the time a fairly new browser feature, she named the site Hampton's Hamster House and had Hampton declare his intent to become a "web star". Initially, the website consisted of a single page with four hamsters and other rodents, later redesigned and dubbed Hampton, Dixie, Hado, and Fuzzy. Over the next few years, alternate versions of the Hampsterdance appeared, such as for birthdays, where the hamsters are slightly modified to hold presents.

The clip, a 9-second looped WAV file, was taken from a sped-up recording of Roger Miller's "Whistle Stop", a song written for the 1973 Disney animated feature film Robin Hood.[1]

Until January 1999, only 800 visits were recorded (about 4 per day), but without warning, the number jumped to 15,000 per day. The web site spread by e-mail, early blogs, and bumper stickers, and was eventually even featured in a television commercial for Internet service provider EarthLink. It became a common office prank to set a co-worker's browser homepage to the website, which led to televised news reports furthering popularity to an international level. The continued popularity of the site led LaCarte to a professional redesign, and the addition of an online store for T-shirts and CDs of "Hamster" music.

LaCarte failed to register the Hampsterdance name, and for some time the hamsterdance.com domain was owned by humor business Nutty Sites. Initially, hampsterdance.com was used, and later hamsterdance2.com. Fans of the site created variations on the original dance, using politicians such as Dan Quayle and Cynthia McKinney as well as household objects such as Pez dispensers and lung X-rays.

Popular culture[edit]

The "official" Hampsterdance Song was produced by The Boomtang Boys, recreating the Roger Miller hook and adding additional rap-style lyrics. The track was used in the 2001 film, See Spot Run. This followed another track that originally featured the same sped-up sample, "Cognoscenti vs. Intelligentsia" by The Cuban Boys. The single, whose commercially released version featured a sound-a-like sample (the band having failed to gain permission to use the original), along with a number of other short voice samples from classic B-movies forming an abstract vocal line in lieu of a regular lyric, peaked at #4 on the Christmas 1999 UK singles chart.[2] In 2005, CNET named the Hampster Dance the #1 web fad.[3] In 2010, Matthew Wilkening of AOL Radio ranked the "official" Hampsterdance song at #79 on the list of the 100 Worst Songs Ever, stating that "This annoying-on-purpose, chipmunks-on-speed bit of nonsense was the grandfather of today's 'Rickroll.'"[4] The song was also featured in the 2005 film Are We There Yet? starring Ice Cube. In 2009, a clip of the song was featured as Miley Cyrus' character's ringtone in Hannah Montana: The Movie.[5]

Charts and sales[edit]

In Canada, the "official" Hampster Dance song was released as a single, featuring a trance music backing. The video was declared worst or cheesiest video of the year by MuchMusic in the one-hour special Fromage 2001. It stayed for two weeks in the Canadian Top 40, peaking at #32.[6] In Australia, "The Hampster Dance Song" was also released in 2001, credited to Hampton the Hampster. The song reached #5 on the ARIA singles chart and spun off follow-up releases and videos, such as "Thank God I'm a Country Boy" (a cover of the John Denver song, reaching #12) and "Hampster Party" (reaching #44).[7] It also reached #70 on the U.S. Hot Country Songs charts.[1]

Peak positions[edit]

Chart (2000-2001) Peak
position
Australian (ARIA)[8] 5
Canada (RPM) 32
Germany (Media Control Charts)[8] 60
US Billboard Hot Dance Music/Maxi Singles Sales[9] 4
US Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks[9] 70
United Kingdom (The Official Charts Company)[10] 4

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Whitburn, Joel (2008). Hot Country Songs 1944 to 2008. Record Research, Inc. p. 180. ISBN 0-89820-177-2. 
  2. ^ BBC: Festive Fifty 1999
  3. ^ Top 10 Web fads - from CNET
  4. ^ Wilkening, Matthew (September 11, 2010). "100 Worst Songs Ever -- Part Two of Five". AOL Radio. Retrieved December 20, 2010. 
  5. ^ "Soundtracks for Hannah Montana: The Movie". IMDB. Retrieved 14 February 2013. 
  6. ^ Canadian peak
  7. ^ australian-charts.com - Hampton The Hamster - The Hampsterdance Song
  8. ^ a b "My Heart Goes Boom (La Di Da Da)", in various singles charts Lescharts.com (Retrieved April 29, 2009)
  9. ^ a b Billboard Allmusic.com (Retrieved April 29, 2009)
  10. ^ UK Singles Chart Chartstats.com (Retrieved August 12, 2009)

External links[edit]