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|Alvin and the Chipmunks|
|Origin||Fresno, California, U.S.|
|Genres||Pop, rock, dance, hip hop, country, children's music, Christmas music|
|Labels||Liberty, RCA, Sony Wonder, Quality, Chipmunk, Atlantic, Rhino|
|Past members||Ross Bagdasarian, Sr. (1959–72)|
|This article may be written from a fan's point of view, rather than a neutral point of view. (January 2014)|
|Alvin and the Chipmunks|
|Origin||Fresno, California, U.S.|
|Genres||Pop, rock, dance, hip hop, country, children's music, Christmas music|
|Labels||Liberty, RCA, Sony Wonder, Quality, Chipmunk, Atlantic, Rhino|
|Past members||Ross Bagdasarian, Sr. (1959–72)|
Alvin and the Chipmunks is an American animated music group created by Ross Bagdasarian, Sr. for a novelty record in 1958. The group consists of three singing animated anthropomorphic chipmunks: Alvin, the mischievous troublemaker, who quickly became the star of the group; Simon, the tall, bespectacled intellectual; and Theodore, the chubby, impressionable one. The trio is managed by their human adoptive father, David (Dave) Seville. In reality, "David Seville" was Bagdasarian's stage name, and the Chipmunks themselves are named after the executives of their original record label. The characters became a success, and the singing Chipmunks and their manager were given life in several animated cartoon productions, using redrawn, anthropomorphic chipmunks, and eventually films.
The voices of the group were all performed by Bagdasarian, who sped up the playback to create high-pitched voices. This oft-used process was not entirely new to Bagdasarian, who had also used it for two previous novelty songs, including "Witch Doctor", but it was so unusual and well-executed it earned the record two Grammy Awards for engineering. Bagdasarian, performing as the Chipmunks, released a long line of albums and singles, with "The Chipmunk Song" becoming a number-one single in the United States. After the death of Bagdasarian in 1972, the characters' voices were performed by his son Ross Bagdasarian, Jr. and the latter's wife Janice Karman in the subsequent incarnations of the 1980s and 1990s.
In the 2007 CGI/live-action movie adaptation and its 2009 sequel, they were voiced in dialogue by Justin Long, Matthew Gray Gubler and Jesse McCartney. Bagdasarian, Jr. and Karman continue to perform the singing voices for Alvin, Theodore and the Chipettes, but Steve Vining does Simon's singing voice. The project has earned five Grammy awards, an American Music Award, a Golden Reel Award, and three Kids' Choice Awards, and has been nominated for three Emmy awards.
A third movie installment, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, was released in theaters on December 16, 2011.
A CGI-animated TV series revival, titled ALVINNN!!! and the Chipmunks, is currently in production. Scheduled to run for 52 11-minute episodes, it will premiere on Nickelodeon in early 2015. After a 25-year hiatus, the premiere of this series will mark its first television debut since their last TV appearance ended in 1990.
In 1958, Ross Bagdasarian, Sr. released a novelty song (as David Seville) about being unsuccessful at love until he found a witch doctor who told him how to woo his woman. The song was done by Bagdasarian in his normal voice, except for the "magic" words, done first in Bagdasarian's pitched-up, pre-Chipmunk voice, then in a duet between his pitched-up voice and his normal voice. The words are nonsense: "Oo-ee, oo-ah-ah, ting-tang, walla-walla, bing-bang". This is the first song that he wrote for his show.
The song was a hit, holding number one for three weeks in the Billboard Top 100 chart. Nothing makes any reference to chipmunks, but the song is sometimes included on Chipmunk compilations, as if the Chipmunks had provided the voice of the Witch Doctor. Bagdasarian did record a Chipmunks version of "Witch Doctor", which appeared on the second Chipmunks album, Sing Again with the Chipmunks, in 1960.
The Chipmunks first officially appeared on the scene in a novelty record released in late fall 1958 by Bagdasarian. The song, originally listed on the record label (Liberty F-55168) as "The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late)", featured the singing skills of the chipmunk trio. One phrase in the chorus has Alvin wishing for a hula hoop, which was that year's hot new toy. The novelty record was highly successful, selling more than 4 million copies in seven weeks, and it launched the careers of its chipmunk stars. It spent four weeks at Number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart from December 22, 1958 to January 12, 1959. It also earned three Grammy Awards and a nomination for Record of the Year. At the height of its popularity, Bagdasarian and three chipmunk hand-puppets appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, lip-synching the song. "The Chipmunk Song" appeared on the Chipmunks' debut album, Let's All Sing with the Chipmunks, in 1959, and was repeated on Christmas with the Chipmunks, released in 1962. The song also has been included on several compilation albums.
Bob Rivers did a parody of this song for his 2000 Christmas album Chipmunks Roasting on an Open Fire which was titled "The Twisted Chipmunk Song". In the song, the Chipmunks are referred to as Thagadore (Theodore), Squeaky (Simon), and Melvin (Alvin).
The Chipmunks first appeared in comic book form on Dell's Four Color Comics series, issue #1042 (cover-dated Dec. 1959). Alvin, Theodore and Simon were depicted as somewhat realistic, nearly identical anthropomorphic rodents with almond-shaped eyes. When Herb Klynn’s Format Films made a deal to develop the Three Chipmunks for animation, the old designs were rejected and new versions of the characters were created. Liberty Records eventually re-issued the early albums with the “new” Chipmunks and it was this new version of the Chipmunks that was used when Alvin's own title was released by Dell in 1962.
The first television series to feature the characters was The Alvin Show. The cartoon gave more distinctive looks and personalities to the three chipmunks than just their voices, and an animated portrayal of Seville was a reasonable caricature of Bagdasarian himself. The series ran from 1961 to 1962, and was one of a small number of animated series to be shown in prime time on CBS. Unfortunately, it was never an immediate success in prime time and was canceled after one season, only to find new life in syndication.
In addition to Alvin cartoons, the series also featured the scientist Clyde Crashcup and his assistant Leonardo. Those characters did not feature prominently on any of the later series. Crashcup made a single cameo appearance in A Chipmunk Christmas, and in an episode of Alvin and the Chipmunks. The television series was produced by Format Films for Bagdasarian Film Corporation. Although the series was broadcast in black and white, it was produced and later re-run in color. 26 episodes each were produced for the Alvin and the Chipmunks and Clyde Crashcup segments, along with 52 musical segments.
The final Chipmunks album in the project's original incarnation, The Chipmunks Go to the Movies, was released in 1969. After the death of Ross Bagdasarian in 1972 from a heart attack, the Chipmunks' careers stalled until NBC showed interest in the original show (the network carried Saturday morning reruns of The Alvin Show as a midseason replacement in 1979) and the following year, Excelsior Records released a new album of contemporary songs performed by the Chipmunks. That album, Chipmunk Punk, featured Bagdasarian's son, Ross Bagdasarian Jr., doing the voices of the characters. That album and the continued reruns of the series proved to be popular enough to warrant further new records as well as a new television production, and in 1981, the Chipmunks and Seville returned to television in the Christmas special A Chipmunk Christmas, produced by Chuck Jones, which was first broadcast on NBC on December 14 of that year. Next year, two more albums were released (Chipmunk Rock and The Chipmunks Go Hollywood).
The group's name changed from the "Chipmunks" to "Alvin and the Chipmunks". In 1983, a second animated television series for the group, produced by Ruby-Spears Productions, was released. Titled simply Alvin and the Chipmunks, the outline of the show closely paralleled the original Alvin Show. The series lasted eight production seasons, until 1990. In the first season, the show introduced the Chipettes, three female versions of the Chipmunks — Brittany, Jeanette, and Eleanor, who each paralleled the original Chipmunks in personality except for Brittany being vainer than Alvin, with Jeanette smart like Simon, and Eleanor fond of food like Theodore, with their own human guardian, the myopic Miss Beatrice Miller (who arrived for the 1986 season). The success of the show led to the release of a soundtrack album in 1984, Songs from Our TV Shows.
The Chipmunks even walked a variation of NBC's "Let's All Be There" campaign for its Saturday-morning lineup in 1984 (shows included The Smurfs, Snorks, Going Bananas, Pink Panther and Sons, Kidd Video, Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, Mister T, etc.). After 1988, the show was renamed just The Chipmunks to indicate that there were now two groups of them. Also introduced was the boys' "Uncle" Harry, who may or may not have actually been a relative. The show reflected contemporaneous trends popular culture; the Chipmunks sang recent hits, and wore contemporary clothing. One "documentary" episode spoofed John Lennon's 1966 infamous comment that The Beatles had become "more popular than Jesus", by recalling how the Chipmunks had fallen in popularity after Alvin boasted they were "bigger than Mickey Mouse!". In 1985, the Chipmunks, along with the Chipettes, were featured in the live stage show, Alvin and the Chipmunks and the Amazing Computer. In 1987, during the fifth season of the show on television, the Chipmunks had their first animated feature film, The Chipmunk Adventure, directed by Janice Karman and Ross Bagdasarian, Jr., and released to theaters by The Samuel Goldwyn Company. The film featured the Chipmunks and the Chipettes in a contest traveling around the world.
In the 1988–89 season, the show switched production companies to DIC Entertainment, by which time the Chipmunks had truly become anthropomorphized. In 1990, the show switched titles again to The Chipmunks Go to the Movies. Each episode in this season was a spoof of a Hollywood film, such as Back to the Future, King Kong, and others. In addition, several television specials featuring the characters were also released. At the conclusion of the eighth season, the show was canceled again. In 1990, a documentary was produced about the show entitled Alvin and the Chipmunks/Five Decades with the Chipmunks. In that year, the Chipmunks also teamed up for the only time with other famous cartoon stars (such as Bugs Bunny, Garfield, etc.) for the drug abuse-prevention special Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue.
In 1996, the rights to the characters were purchased by Universal Studios. This resulted in the Chipmunks' 1999 reappearance in the form of the direct-to-video film Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet Frankenstein. The film was successful enough to spark interest in a sequel, and in 2000, Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet the Wolfman appeared. Both films featured the original cast of the second series reprising their roles and the tone of the films is very similar to the series. These film titles reflect earlier horror spoofs by Abbott and Costello.
A live-action film called Little Alvin and the Mini-Munks was released on April 27, 2004. It features puppetry used for the Chipmunks and Chipettes. In this film, when Dave (Ross Bagdasarian, Jr.) goes out of town, he leaves the young Chipmunks and the Chipettes in the care of Lalu (Janice Karman), a friend who is happy to have six preschoolers stay with her. Lalu lives in a magic cottage with Gilda (a talking cockatoo), and PC (a talking frog who believes he is one kiss away from being Prince Charming).
In 2000, Bagdasarian Productions sued Universal Studios for breach of contract after its direct-to-video film contract went sour, in order to recoup monetary damages and to regain control of the Alvin and the Chipmunks characters. Bagdasarian won the lawsuit in 2002. In 2004, 20th Century Fox, Regency Enterprises and Bagdasarian Productions announced a CGI/live action film adaptation of the popular musical group and animated series. The new film Alvin and the Chipmunks, directed by Tim Hill and starring Jason Lee as Dave Seville, was released on December 14, 2007. With Justin Long as Alvin, Matthew Gray Gubler as Simon, and Jesse McCartney as Theodore, it marks the first motion picture in which nobody related to Ross Bagdasarian, Sr. has performed as David or the Chipmunks. Though the critics gave it harsh reviews, audiences consisting of children and their baby boomer parents flocked to the theaters. In its first weekend, it grossed $44,307,417, second behind I Am Legend. The film closed on June 5, 2008, grossing $217,326,974 in North America and $144,009,659 overseas for a total of $361,336,633 worldwide.
In 2006, Bagdasarian Productions sued Thomas Lee, the creator of Chipmunkz Gangsta Rap, a parody created by Bentframe and featured on Atom Films. Also, The Chipmunk Adventure was released on DVD by Paramount Home Entertainment, then later Trick or Treason, A Chipmunk Christmas: 25th Anniversary and A Chipmunk Valentine. The Chipmunks Go To The Movies was released on May 22, 2007. The Chipmunks' album Undeniable, was released in November 2008.
A sequel to the first film, Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, was released on December 23, 2009 . Justin Long (Alvin), Matthew Gray Gubler (Simon), and Jesse McCartney (Theodore) reprised their roles and Betty Thomas returned as director. In the film, The Chipettes are featured, with Christina Applegate as Brittany, Anna Faris as Jeanette, and Amy Poehler as Eleanor. It marks as the first picture in which Janice Karman does not voice The Chipettes. Though critically panned like its predecessor, The Squeakquel opened to $48,875,415 in its first weekend and $75,589,048 in its first five days, third at the North American box office behind Avatar and Sherlock Holmes. The film closed on May 20, 2010, having garnered $219,614,612 in North America and $223,525,393 overseas for a grand total of $443,140,005 worldwide.
20th Century Fox announced that Alvin and the Chipmunks 3D would be released worldwide on December 16, 2011. The announcement was made despite Janice Karman suing the studio for lost royalties and intellectual property theft, a move seconded by Ross Bagdasarian Jr., who had canceled the Bagdasarian/Fox licensing deal over the studio’s unwillingness to consider the Chipmunks a real band during the postproduction of Alvin and the Chipmunks.
However, by October 26, 2010, director Mike Mitchell, was in negotiations with Fox to direct the new installment in the live-action/animated franchise, now entitled Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, though 20th Century Fox was wavering on whether shoot in 3-D.
Production for the third film began on January 22, 2011. Some parts of the film were shot aboard the Carnival Dream cruise ship. On the day before the film's premiere in the United States (December 15, 2011), it was announced that the producers decided that the film will not be in 3-D. The film premiered in American theaters on December 16, 2011.
A fourth Chipmunks film is scheduled to be released in theaters on December 11, 2015. 
David "Dave" Seville is a quick-tempered yet kind and somewhat insecure songwriter for the musical trio and Chipmunks' adoptive father and confidant. While Dave struggles to remain calm and objective, Alvin often irritates him, causing Dave to yell "Alvin!", to which Alvin responds with "Okay!" Dave plays piano and the guitar. He has short black hair and brown eyes. In the 1983 animated series, it is revealed that Dave first found the Chipmunks as infants abandoned on the door step of his old cottage. At first, he grows to like them but had trouble keeping them from misbehaving as he had important songs to write or else he'd lose his job. On top of that, Dave's landlord is a nasty man who even tries to kill the Chipmunks. However, Dave eventually hears their amazing singing voices and records them, making their song a hit and with the money they earn they manage to move into a large house, which Dave owns and live happily together as one big family. Dave and his chipmunks went to Wendy's and get hamburgers.
In the 2007 film he is played by Jason Lee. In the film, he first discovers the boys eating food in his cabinets and he panics and throws them out. He later changes his mind and allows them into his home upon them showing their singing talent. he however gets fed up with them and sends them to live with Ian Hawke, he begins to miss the boys and free from Ian. He welcomes the Chipmunks into his home and eventually he starts to love them like his own children. However, in the 2009 sequel Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, Dave plays a minor role in the film, mainly due to him being in the hospital in Paris. This happened due to Alvin causing a billboard to crash into him and he is sent flying across the room and is severely injured, so he is placed in intensive care. He is rarely seen in the film. His cousin Toby acts as both a main character and the Chipmunks' temporary guardian. Dave appears at the end of the film watching his boys and the Chipettes perform together who Dave allows to live with him and the Chipmunks. Dave appears for a third time in Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, where he, the Chipmunks and Chipettes board a cruise ship heading to the International Music Awards. He gets mad at Alvin, Simon and the Chipettes for leaving their cabin room for their own reasons. Later, he team up with his old enemy, Ian, to find the Chipmunks and Chipettes when the six get blown away with a kite. He finds them and leaves the island with them. He later watches his family perform at the International Music Awards, he is last seen on an airplane with them heading for home.
Alvin is the lead vocalist and the oldest brother of Alvin and the Chipmunks. He wears red and his eyes are blue (amber in the live action/animated films). His enthusiasm is boundless and his despair bottomless. The term look before you leap does not usually apply to Alvin, who is impulsive, charming, and musical. The character always seems to make up hare-brained schemes to get what his goal is at the time, whether it be trying to help his brothers, keeping Dave from figuring something out, or getting out of a sticky situation; however, Alvin seems to refer to his often illogical or crazy plans as "challenging the ordinary". On July 30, 2002, Alvin was No. 44 on TV Guide's list of "Top 50 Best Cartoon Characters of All Time".
He is mostly shown to be infatuated with Brittany, although they often annoy each other, but they look out for each other when things look bad.
Like his brothers, he was originally voiced by Ross Bagdasarian, Sr. In the animated series and film, he was voiced by Ross Bagdasarian, Jr. Justin Long voiced Alvin in the live-action/animated film series.
In addition to having an IQ just north of Einstein, Simon possesses a dry sense of humor as well as a keen wit. He takes charge when Alvin goes too far with his hair brained schemes. Simon loves Alvin, although he secretly worries that they share the same gene pool. He wears glasses and blue attire, and has blue eyes. He plays the bass, bass clarinet, saxophone, bagpipes, tuba, and drums, among others. He is shown playing the keyboard in the original open for the 1980s series. He was also shown playing guitar in a 1980s Hardee's commercial.
He appears to be interested in Jeanette, who has some things in common with him; however, she is more bashful and timid than Simon.
Like his brothers, he was originally voiced by Ross Bagdasarian, Sr. In the animated series and film, he was voiced by Ross Bagdasarian, Jr. Matthew Gray Gubler voiced Simon in the live-action/animated film series.
Theodore is the child of innocence and the youngest. He is shy, loving, sensitive, chubby, gullible, trusting, and naïve. In short, he is an easy target for Alvin's manipulations, he wears green and has green eyes. Theodore often holds the swing vote between his two brothers' choices of action. Simon appeals to Theodore's better nature while Alvin goes straight to bribery. He is constantly craving snacks and in one episode, Theodore tried to eat Alvin's hand because of his hunger.
He plays the drums, the guitar, and others. He is the baby of the group. He is fragile yet unpredictable. At times, he is childish and Alvin's follower. He is the glue that binds his brothers despite Alvin and Simon's differences and regular disagreements.
He seems to have affection for Eleanor, who shares physical traits with him, but she is smarter, braver and more athletic.
Like his brothers, he was originally voiced by Ross Bagdasarian, Sr. In the animated series and film, his voice was provided by Janice Karman, Ross Bagdasarian Jr.'s wife and the voice of all three Chipettes. Jesse McCartney voiced Theodore in the live-action/animated film series.
Brittany is the lead singer and the oldest sister of the Chipettes. She has a pleasing facial and physical appearance, but at times can be vain and self-serving with the extreme desire to have whatever she wants, but is still very caring. Often Brittany is happy to outdo others she dislikes; which often establishes the plot of the episode. She wears pink and she also has auburn brown hair which is seen in a stylized ponytail.
Jeanette is the middle sister and smartest of the Chipettes, even though she is the tallest. Like Simon, she wears glasses. She has brown hair in a bun in the '80s show and a short ponytail in the recent films. Her eyes are green in her TV appearances and The Chipmunk Adventure but were changed to purple in the live-action/CGI films. She cares about Simon and gets along with him very well.
Eleanor is the youngest sister of the Chipettes. She has a lot in common with Theodore (whom she likes) in terms of body shape and color of attire, but she is braver, more fit and remembers stuff better. She is blonde with pigtails and has brown eyes in the 80`s show, which changed to green in the more recent appearances of Eleanor.
Ian is played by comedian David Cross, and serves as the main antagonist in the first two films. He is Dave's friend-turned rival and former college roommate, and serves as the CEO of JETT Records in the first film. One day, the Chipmunks sneak off to his home to audition, whereupon he automatically signs them on to the label. He rockets them to the top of music business but after seeing how much they're truly worth, he attempts to lure them away from Dave for his own profit. His plan ultimately fails, as the Chipmunks have learned of it and escaped from his grasp, thus leaving him to be ousted from his job as CEO of Jett Records. In the second film, Ian is now unemployable and in debt, and lives in the basement of Jett Records. However, he happens upon The Chipettes, who want to be famous like the Chipmunks, and cannot wait to make them famous, so he takes them in, in hopes of getting his sworn revenge on the Chipmunks. He enrolls the Chipettes into the same school as the Chipmunks, and after showing Dr. Rubin (Wendie Malick) their talent, she agrees to let them battle the Chipmunks for the right to represent the school for the district's music competition. However, in the climax, Ian decides to blow off the competition to have the Chipettes to perform at a Britney Spears concert, and takes them by force, threatening to take them to a barbecue restaurant if they will not comply. Alvin saves the Chipettes from Ian, who then tries to imitate them at the Britney Spears concert, only to get thrown into a dumpster by security guards. In the third film, Ian appears to have mellowed down and now works on the Carnival Dream cruise ship, dressed in a pelican suit. As a well-respected mascot, he takes his job very seriously and threatens to have Dave and the Chipmunks removed from the ship if they continue to act up. However, he becomes Dave's friend again while helping him find the Chipmunks after they were left being marooned in the island. In the end, he gets his wealth back by starting a career as a screenwriter, having sold a screenplay about Zoe's story to Hollywood.
Claire is Dave's ex-girlfriend who adores the Chipmunks after she finally gets to meet them. She becomes good friends with Dave again by the end of the movie. She is played by Cameron Richardson.
Dave's immature cousin who appeared in the second film. Toby is a slacker who loves to play video games and still lives with his grandmother and Dave's aunt, Jackie Seville, until he figures out what he wants to do with his life. Toby's immaturity keeps him from acting like an adult (although he seems to take on some responsibility in the middle of the movie), and he has a crush on the Chipmunks' homeroom and music teacher, Julie Ortega (Anjelah Johnson), ever since he went to the same school as the Chipmunks. He is played by Chuck star Zachary Levi.
Zoe is a deluded castaway who was found by the Chipmunks when they end up being marooned on an island that she took refuge. She claims to be on the island for eight to nine years. At first, she was believed to be crash-landed into the island, but it turns out that she intentionally came here to look for treasure after learning of the Chipmunks finding some treasure behind a waterfall. Taking the opportunity, Zoe kidnaps Jeanette and forces her to get all the treasure, since she is small enough to reach it. Eventually, Alvin and Dave come to the rescue, causing Zoe to lose hold of Jeanette and the treasure. While Alvin leads Jeanette out of harm's way, Dave trips over a log bridge due to an imminent volcanic explosion, hanging for dear life. It was then an infuriated Zoe, determined to get revenge on him for losing the treasure, forces him to let go, but luckily, Ian comes to the rescue, explaining her of his rivalry with Dave and the Chipmunks that cost him his career and that getting back at Dave will not get her what she wants. He convinces her to do the right thing, which Zoe finally does. She eventually escapes the island along with Dave, Ian, and the Chipmunks on raft as the volcano starts to erupt. As the survivors are safely ahead from the eruption, Zoe apologizes to Jeanette for kidnapping her, and in return, Jeanette hands her the gold tiara that Simon found in the waterfall. She is played by former SNL actress Jenny Slate.
The kindly, absent-minded adoptive mother of the Chipettes. She occasionally babysits the Chipmunks and has a crush on Dave, even though she's old enough to be his mother. In her youth, she was part of an all-girl singing group called "The Thrillers". She appeared in the 1983 TV series and was voiced by Dody Goodman.
Clyde Crashcup – voiced by Shepard Menken – is a scientist in a white coat whose experiments invariably failed. His was the only voice heard in many of the episodes, because the other character in the series was his assistant Leonardo, who only whispered into Clyde's ear. In one episode, though, Clyde invented a wife, voiced by June Foray. Clyde had one of the four segments, and the Chipmunks starred in the other three (two of which were musical segments). In the episode "Crashcup Invents the Birthday Party", Foray provided the (all too audible) voice for the mother of Crashcup's inaudible assistant Leonardo.
Clyde Crashcup was primarily an inventor rather than a researcher, although he tended to "invent" things which had already been invented. However, in one episode, he built a functioning time machine. He typically would invent something by taking a pencil out of his lab coat's pocket and drawing a picture in midair of his conception: the picture would then become the actual object.
The Chipmunks' voices were recorded at half the normal tape speed onto audiotape by voice talent talking or singing at half the normal speaking rate. When the tape was played back at normal speed, they would sound a full octave higher in pitch, at normal tempo. The technique was by no means new to the Chipmunks. For example, the high and low pitched characters in The Wizard of Oz were achieved by speeding up and slowing down vocal recordings. Also, Mel Blanc's voice characterization for Daffy Duck was sped up to some extent. Now, the same effect is created digitally and in real time with a pitch shift.
However, the extensive use of this technique with the Chipmunks, coupled with their popularity, linked this technique to them. The term "chipmunk-voiced" has entered the American vernacular to describe any artificially high-pitched voice. A similar effect could be obtained in playback by merely taking an LP recorded at 331⁄3 RPM and playing it back at 45 or 78 RPM, a trick sometimes tried out by ordinary record listeners. The instrumental portions of the song are sped up as well, however, making it obvious that the music is being played at the wrong speed. Bagdasarian recorded vocals and music at different speeds to combine properly on his recording. (Guitarist and studio wizard Les Paul claimed to have visited Bagdasarian's studio in 1958 and helped with the recording.)
The technique was used extensively in the British puppet show Pinky and Perky, which pre-dated the Chipmunks. The sound was frequently imitated in comedy records, notably "Transistor Radio" by Benny Hill, "Bridget the Midget" by Ray Stevens, "The Laughing Gnome" by David Bowie, and on several tracks on Joe Meek and the Blue Men's album I Hear a New World. The technique also appears in the instrumental break in Bobby Lewis' 1961 US No. 1 hit "Tossin' and Turnin'". Prince has used the technique on several of his songs, as well as Frank Zappa on We're Only In It For The Money and on the instrumental album Hot Rats, among others. The early production style of hip-hop artist Kanye West involved sped-up, high-pitch vocal samples from classic soul records incorporated with his own (additional) instrumentation. Due in part to the acclaim of his debut album The College Dropout, such sampling techniques subsequently became much copied by a myriad of other hip-hop producers. In the early '90s rave scene, many breakbeat hardcore productions would utilize the same studio tricks, often taking a cappella from house records and speeding them up to fit the faster tempo. Vocals in songs that used this method would typically be referred to as "chipmunk vocals".
In 1991, Bagdasarian Productions acquired the production company offices and holdings from Arden, and reopened the record label Jet Records under the new name Chipmunk Records. There is a reference to the company in the 2007 film Alvin and the Chipmunks, in which the Chipmunk's record label is "Jett Records" (with two T's).
There were five Grammy Awards, an American Music Award, a Golden Reel Award, and three Kids Choice Awards in total.
Following the cult success of the Lorimar Home Video release of the previously successful movie The Chipmunk Adventure on VHS, select episodes of the show from 1983 to 1990, as well as several specials from the '80s and '90s, were released on VHS. Initially, in 1989, they were distributed by Burbank Video. From 1992 to 1996, they were distributed by Buena Vista Home Video. From 1998 to 2000, they were distributed by Universal Studios Home Entertainment. The VHS Chipmunk Video Library titles featured select episodes from the Ruby-Spears and Murakami-Wolf-Swenson eras, but no opening and closing credits were included (even though the opening credits were intact on "A Chipmunk Reunion").
Instead, each tape opened with previews from the six primary Chipmunk Library titles, set to the 1988 version of the show's theme song titled "We're the Chipmunks". Also, a synthesized version of the 1983–1987 title card music was used on the Ruby Spears episodes. However, unlike the syndicated versions for most of these episodes that were airing at the time, these episodes were presented in their original speed, just as they were on NBC, before they were sped-up for syndication. The early-mid-'90s Chipmunk VHS releases featured select episodes from the DiC era. The Universal Home Video releases consisted of the reissue of The Chipmunk Adventure, and the two direct-to-video films.
There were also VHS releases in the UK that included episodes that have yet to be released in the U.S. on DVD, and have never been released in the U.S. on VHS. They consist of "The Phantom", "The Wall", "Queen of the High School Ballroom", "Alvin's Not So Superhero", "Home Sweet Home", "All Worked Up", and "Phantom of the Rock Opera".
There was also a VHS tape released exclusively in Germany that featured seven different segments (albeit in German). On it were "The Wall", "The Amazing Chipmunks", "Psychic Alvin", "A Special Kind of Champion", "Cookie Chomper III", "Nightmare on Seville Street", and "Thinking Cap Trap". Of the seven, "The Amazing Chipmunks", which originally aired alongside "The Wall", is extremely hard to find in its original English language.
In 2005, Bagdasarian Productions struck a deal with Paramount Home Video to distribute their latest direct-to-video release, Little Alvin and the Mini-Munks on DVD. As a result, Paramount continues to distribute select episodes of the show from 1983 to 1990, as well as several specials from the '80s and '90s on DVD, except for Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet Frankenstein, Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet The Wolfman (the Home Video rights to those are still owned by Universal Studios Home Entertainment), and the 2007 film (the Home Video rights to that are owned by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment). The DVD releases include episodes of the 80's Alvin and the Chipmunks animated series that were previously released on VHS, as well as episodes that have been previously unreleased on a home video format. Also one episode of The Alvin Show from the 1960s was released.