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
Recorded 1999
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 [sic] Dance or Hampsterdance is a song by Hampton the Hampster. It was released in July 2000, as a single. It was produced by The Boomtang Boys, recreating the Roger Miller hook and adding additional rap-style lyrics.

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 number 4 on the Christmas 1999 UK singles chart.[1] This version was named "Cognoscenti vs. Intelligentsia" and performed by The Cuban Boys. In 2005, CNET named the Hampster Dance the number-one Web fad.[2]

It 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.

Background[edit]

Screen capture of original Hampster Dance.

Canadian art student Deidre LaCarte (of Nanaimo, British Columbia) was in a competition with her best friend and sister to generate the most Web traffic when she created the Hampster Dance page in August 1998. She named the site Hampton's Hamster House in homage to her pet hamster, "Hampton Hamster," who on the page declared his intent to become a "Web star."[3][4]

The Hampster Dance site originally consisted of a single page with just four hamster (and other rodent) animated GIFs, repeated in rows by the dozens, and with an infectious background tune that looped endlessly. At the time the page was created, embedding background music in HTML pages was a fairly novel browser feature. The clip, a 9-second looped WAV file, was a sped-up sample of Roger Miller's "Whistle Stop", a song written for the opening credits of the 1973 Disney animated feature film Robin Hood.[4] The site later expanded, revealing all four characters' names (Hampton, Dixie, Hado, and Fuzzy) and offering themed versions for birthdays, graduation, holidays, etc.

From its creation in August 1998 to January 1999, the Hampster Dance site only recorded about 800 total visits (roughly four per day) but, suddenly and without warning, that number jumped to 15,000 visits per day. Word of the website spread by e-mail, early blogs, and bumper stickers; it was even featured in a television commercial for Internet service provider EarthLink. A common office prank at that time was to set a co-worker's browser homepage to the Hampster Dance Web site, which led to televised news reports that furthered its notoriety to an international level. Continued popularity led LaCarte to get a professional redesign of the site and add an online store offering T-shirts and CDs of "Hamster" music.

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

In popular culture[edit]

The 2000 single, "The Hampster Dance Song," was featured in the film See Spot Run, as well as rapper Ice Cube's 2005 family comedy film Are We There Yet? as well as theatrical trailers and TV spots for the film. Voiceover artist Erin Andres performed the rap lyrics, though remaining uncredited, even in her subsequent appearances as the voice of Hampton the Hamster.

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. The song reached number-one on the Canadian Singles Chart while peaking at number 32 on the RPM charts. In Australia, "The Hampster Dance Song" was also released in 2001, credited to Hampton the Hampster. The song reached number 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 number 12) and "Hampster Party" (reaching number 44).[5] It also reached number 70 on the U.S. Hot Country Songs charts.[4]

Peak positions[edit]

Chart (1999-2001) Peak
position
Australia (ARIA)[6] 5
Canada (Canadian Singles Chart)[7] 1
Canada Top Singles (RPM).[8] 32
Germany (Official German Charts)[9] 60
UK Singles (The Official Charts Company)[10] 4
US Billboard Hot Dance Music/Maxi Singles Sales[11] 4
US Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks[11] 70

References[edit]

External links[edit]