The independent news organization of Duke University

That crazy frog

Over the long weekend, 55 percent of French voters smashed their way through President Jacques Chirac’s dream when they voted down the constitution for the European Union.

But the news item riding the radio waves and gracing front pages all weekend in London had nothing to do with French officials’ political or sexual failures. It was all about a crazy frog.

THE Crazy Frog, actually. Señor Frog is a distinctive fictional character in a mobile phone ringtone advertisement and has been burning up the UK music charts.

The ring tone consists of a nonsensical vocal track laid over the instrumental theme from Eddie Murphy’s 1984 hit film Beverly Hills Cop.

A Swedish teenager recorded the original track imitating an accelerating moped as a joke for his friends a decade ago. Another Swede combined the track with animation of a blue frog in a motorcycle helmet and leather jacket. For some reason, two German DJs then picked up the track and mixed it with “Axel F,” previously only ever remixed in arcade video games and regrettable dance tracks.

If, right about now, you’re wondering what this ring tone sounds like, I give you the words, as published by respected global news agency Reuters:

A ding ding ding ding dididing ding bing bing pscht, Dorhrm bom bom bedom bem bom bedom bom bum ba ba bom bom, Bouuuuum bom bom bedahm, Bom be barbedarm bedabedabedabeda Bbrrrrrimm bbrrrrramm bbbrrrrrrrrraammmmm ddddddraammm, Bah bah baah baah ba wheeeeeee-eeeee-eeeee!

Now imagine this sung in a high-pitched, nasal voice, ad nauseum.

The frog’s television commercial embodiment is a bug-eyed, stretch-mouthed frog, to disturbingly vacant effect. This commercial prompted more than 800 complaints from members of the public to Britain’s Advertising Standards Authority. Viewers initially objected to the frog’s visible genitalia. Even with a blur strategically placed between the frog’s legs (it’s animation, people!), complaints kept pouring in. This time, it was about sheer annoyance.

The situation grew so desperate that advertisers pulled their TV spots from program breaks during which the frog would appear, understanding full well that viewers would click away as soon as they heard the opening strains. And since the advert is on TV every five seconds, I do mean strains.

But the most jaw-dropping aspect of the Crazy Frog phenomenon is that the ring tone kept Coldplay’s newly released “Speed of Sound” safely in second place on the UK music singles chart, leading The Associated Press, my employer, to refer to the ringtone as “the first mobile ringtone to cross into the charts.”

This is Coldplay, a British institution, defeated in its premiere weekend by an animated frog!

Thankfully, I was fairly removed from most of the madness, safely ensconced in a B&B on the Cornish coast for the weekend. I hiked along breathtaking cliffs, ate Cornwall’s famously delicious scones and clotted cream and went to Tintagel (the ruins of the castle where, if he was a person who lived and not a myth or fictional conglomeration of several different people, King Arthur is said to have been conceived. Right.).

But the five-hour drive back to London placed me right smack in the middle of Radio One’s “Coldplay Day,” during which DJs underhandedly appealed to Britons to come to their senses and not allow a fictional character’s wordless and wince-inducing RING TONE to make it to the very pinnacle of the charts. And no one will admit to having bought the damn thing.

So in a strange inversion of events, supporters of the EU constitution and Coldplay fans could, as a result of all the weekend’s charts, say that the British and French were both crazy frogs.

Emily Rotberg is a Trinity junior. Her column appears every other week.

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