Witch Doctor (song)

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"Witch Doctor"
DS witchdoctor.jpg
Single by David Seville
from the album The Alvin Show
B-side"Don't Whistle at Me, Baby"
ReleasedApril 1, 1958 (1958-04-01)
Format45 rpm
RecordedJanuary 1, 1958 (1958-01-01)
Genre
Length2:15
LabelLiberty
Songwriter(s)Ross Bagdasarian Sr.
Producer(s)Ross Bagdasarian Sr.
David Seville singles chronology
"Witch Doctor"
(1958)
"The Bird on My Head"
(1958)

"Witch Doctor" is a song written and performed by Ross Bagdasarian Sr., and released in 1958 by Liberty Records under the stage name David Seville.

Background and composition[edit]

The song tells the story of a man in love with a woman who initially does not return his affections. Longing for her companionship, the man goes to see a witch doctor for advice. The wise Witch Doctor replies, "oo ee oo aa aa, ting, tang, walla walla bing bang" (a phrase which is repeated three times as the chorus of the song). In the middle of the song, the man tells the woman he loves about his asking the Witch Doctor for advice.

The voice of the "Witch Doctor" was in fact Bagdasarian's own voice sped-up to double speed, a technique later exploited by Bagdasarian to create Alvin and the Chipmunks (and which he had also used on at least one other pre-Chipmunk song, "The Bird on My Head"). Because of this, it is often referred to as the first song by the Chipmunks; this is not precisely true. For one, only one sped-up "chipmunk-style" voice is featured rather than three such voices singing in harmony. Furthermore, Bagdasarian (as Seville) insisted that it was not technically a Chipmunks song in a second version from the 1960 Chipmunks album Sing Again with the Chipmunks (which was later re-released in a musical segment of an episode of The Alvin Show), when he says to the Chipmunks (when they request to sing the song) "I don't know, fellas, I made that record once!", to which Alvin responds "Yeah, but not with us! Come on!" The first song to truly be by the "group" was "The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late)."

Chart performance[edit]

The song peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Top 100, the predecessor to the Billboard Hot 100. The single was considered a major surprise hit on the chart, where it became Seville's first No. 1 single and stayed in the position for three weeks. The single also peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard R&B chart and on the Cash Box chart as well. The single sold over one million copies in the United States. Billboard ranked it as the No. 4 song for 1958.[1]

Alvin and the Chipmunks versions[edit]

The song has gained further popularity due to multiple covers performed by Alvin and the Chipmunks. The first was for their 1960 album Sing Again with The Chipmunks, which would later be adapted into a musical segment on The Alvin Show. In 1983, they would perform this song on the Alvin and the Chipmunks episode "The Chipmunk Story" and the soundtrack Songs From Our TV Shows. The song was used for the opening of the 1990 TV special Rockin' Through the Decades in the style of various artists. In 1996, a dance mix cover was recorded for the album Club Chipmunk: The Dance Mixes. In 2007, a DeeTown cover (featuring Chris Classic) was recorded for the live-action/CGI Alvin and the Chipmunks movie. In 2012, they released a duet cover with The Chipettes entitled "Witch Doctor 2.0" available for digital download on the iTunes Store (although iTunes only credits The Chipmunks).

Covers[edit]

The first cover version was recorded in 1958 by the British musician Don Lang and made the UK Top 10.[citation needed]

A sequel of sorts, "Witch Doctor Bump", by funk band the Chubukos, including Chipmunk-style novelty voices, appeared in the Record World charts in late 1973, rising as high as No. 117 in a 10-week chart stay.[citation needed]

Cartoons version[edit]

"Witch Doctor"
Witch Doctor Cartoons.jpg
Single by Cartoons
from the album Toonage
ReleasedOctober 26, 1998 (1998-10-26)[2]
Format
Recorded1998
Genre
Label
Songwriter(s)Ross Bagdasarian, Sr.
Producer(s)Cartoons
Cartoons singles chronology
"DooDah!"
(1998)
"Witch Doctor"
(1998)
"Yoko"
(1998)
Music video
"Witch Doctor" on YouTube

Another version of the song was by the Danish band Cartoons, on their 1998 debut album Toonage. Their version charted well in Europe, reaching the top forty in many countries, as well as peaking at No. 2 on the UK Singles Chart. A Spanish and an Italian version both appear on the album Toontastic, while an Italian version also appears on the album More Toonage.

The Cartoons' cover was also featured in the Dancemania compilation series and Dance Dance Revolution game series, starting with DDRMAX Dance Dance Revolution 6thMix.

Track listings[edit]

CD single
No.TitleLength
1."Witch Doctor" (radio mix)3:05
2."Witch Doctor" (extended mix)4:14
3."Witch Doctor" (Out of Africa remix)5:09

Charts[edit]

Chart (1998–1999) Peak
position
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[3] 9
Europe (Eurochart Hot 100) 11
France (SNEP)[4] 22
Germany (Official German Charts)[5] 68
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[6] 12
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[7] 31
Scotland (Official Charts Company)[8] 2
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[9] 2
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[10] 13

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Number One Song of the Year: 1946–2014". Bob Borst's Home of Pop Culture.
  2. ^ Date of release
  3. ^ "Ultratop.be – Cartoons – Witch Doctor" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
  4. ^ "Lescharts.com – Cartoons – Witch Doctor" (in French). Les classement single.
  5. ^ "Musicline.de – Cartoons Single-Chartverfolgung" (in German). Media Control Charts. PhonoNet GmbH.
  6. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Cartoons" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40.
  7. ^ "Charts.nz – Cartoons – Witch Doctor". Top 40 Singles.
  8. ^ "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 28 March 1999.
  9. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 28 March 1999.
  10. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – Cartoons – Witch Doctor". Singles Top 100.

External links[edit]