Hampster Dance

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"The Hampsterdance Song"
Hampster Dance single.jpg
Single by Hampton the Hampster
from the album Hampsterdance: The Album
Released July 3, 2000
Format CD single
Recorded 1973, 2000
Genre Eurodance
Length 3:34
Label ZYX Music
Songwriter(s) Roger Miller
R. DeBoer
A. Grace
Producer(s) The Boomtang Boys
Hampton the Hampster singles chronology
"The Hampsterdance Song"
(2000)
"Thank God I'm A Country Boy"
(2000)
"The Hampsterdance Song"
(2000)
"Thank God I'm A Country Boy"
(2000)

The Hampster Dance or The Hampsterdance Song is a song by Hampton the Hampster. It was released in July 2000 as a single. It was produced by The Boomtang Boys, using a sped-up hook from the Roger Miller song "Whistle Stop",[1] notably featured in Disney's 1973 film Robin Hood.[2] Voiceover artist Erin Andres performed the additional rap lyrics, though remained uncredited, even in her subsequent appearances as the voice of Hampton the Hamster. In 2005, CNET named the Hampster Dance the number-one Web fad.[3]

It is also one of the earliest examples of an Internet meme. In its original incarnation, the meme first surfaced as a web page in 1998. Created by Canadian art student Deidre LaCarte as a Geocities page, the dance features rows of animated GIFs of 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."[4][5]

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.[5] 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 2000, 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.

The popularity of the website led to the creation of an entire song called "The Hampsterdance Song" based around Roger Miller's "Whistle Stop" sample which was produced by The Boomtang Boys and released in July 2000.[1] A cartoon video was produced for the single which introduced a digital "band" of hamsters, which was first dubbed solely as "Hampton the Hampster" but later as "Hampton and the Hampsters". 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 released in 2001, and reached number 5 on the ARIA singles chart. The song proved to be very successful on Radio Disney, where it became the station's all-time most played song, and was later included on the compilation album Radio Disney Ultimate Jams. Following the relative success of the single, entire albums featuring the fictional band were released, including Hampsterdance: The Album (2000), Happy Times Ten (2002), The Hampster Dance Party (2002), Hampsterdance Hits (2004), and A Very Hampsterdance Christmas (2008).[6][7] Some follow-up singles were moderately successful in Australia, 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).[8] "Thank God I'm a Country Boy" also reached number 70 on the U.S. Hot Country Songs charts.[5]

Prior to the release of "The Hampsterdance Song", a similar song featuring an unofficial sound-alike rendition of "Whistle Stop" was released as "Cognoscenti vs. Intelligentsia" and performed by The Cuban Boys. This version peaked at number 4 on the Christmas 1999 UK singles chart.[9]

Continued popularity led LaCarte to get a professional redesign of the site and add an online store offering T-shirts and CDs of the fictional group's music. However, LaCarte failed to register the Hampsterdance domain name and for some time the hamsterdance.com domain was owned by humor business Nutty Sites, and thus used the domain hamsterdance2.com. In late 2001, she re-acquired the hampsterdance.com domain. 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.

An flash animated series was planned by Canadian animation studio Nelvana [10] but never made it past the planning process.

In popular culture[edit]

The 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.

Charts[edit]

Peak positions[edit]

Chart (2000-2001) Peak
position
Australia (ARIA)[11] 5
Canada (Canadian Singles Chart)[12] 1
Canada Top Singles (RPM).[13] 32
Germany (Official German Charts)[14] 60
US Billboard Hot Dance Music/Maxi Singles Sales[15] 4

References[edit]

External links[edit]