The Hampster Dance or Hampsterdance 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.
The clip, a 9-second looped WAV file, was taken from a sped-up recording of Roger Miller's "Whistle Stop", a song written for the 1973 Walt Disney cartoon Robin Hood. Canadian art student Deidre LaCarte, who was competing with her best friend and sister to see who could generate the most traffic, designed the Hampster Dance in August 1998 as homage to her pet hamster, named "Hampton Hamster." Using four simple animated GIFs of hamsters and other rodents, repeated dozens of times each, and a loop of background music embedded in the HTML, at the time a fairly new browser feature, she named the site Hampton's Hamster House and had Hampton declare his intent to become a "web star". Initially, the website consisted of a single page with four hamsters and other rodents, later redesigned and dubbed Hampton, Dixie, Hado, and Fuzzy. Over the next few years, alternate versions of the Hampsterdance appeared, such as for birthdays, where the hamsters are slightly modified to hold presents.
Until January 1999, only 800 visits were recorded (about 4 per day), but without warning, the number jumped to 15,000 per day. The web site spread by e-mail, early blogs, and bumper stickers, and was eventually even featured in a television commercial for Internet service provider EarthLink. It became a common office prank to set a co-worker's browser homepage to the website, which led to televised news reports furthering popularity to an international level. The continued popularity of the site led LaCarte to a professional redesign, and the addition of an online store for T-shirts and CDs of "Hamster" music.
LaCarte failed to register the Hampsterdance name, and for some time the hamsterdance.com domain was owned by humor business Nutty Sites. Initially, hampsterdance.com was used, and later hamsterdance2.com. Fans of the site created variations on the original dance, using politicians such as Dan Quayle and Cynthia McKinney as well as household objects such as Pez dispensers and lung X-rays.
The track was used in the 2001 film, See Spot Run. Another track that featured the same sped-up sample was "Cognoscenti vs. Intelligentsia" by The Cuban Boys. The single peaked at #4 on the Christmas chart. In 2005, CNET named the Hampster Dance the #1 web fad. In 2010, Matthew Wilkening of AOL Radio ranked the "official" Hampster Dance song at #79 on the list of the 100 Worst Songs Ever, stating that "This annoying-on-purpose, chipmunks-on-speed bit of nonsense was the grandfather of today's 'Rickroll.'" The song was also featured in the 2005 filmAre We There Yet? starring Ice Cube. The song also served as the film's unofficial theme song, as it was not only used in the actual movie, but several TV spots for the film featured the track.
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. It stayed for two weeks in the Canadian Top 40, peaking at #32. In Australia, "The Hampster Dance Song" was also released in 2001, credited to Hampton the Hampster. The song reached #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 #12) and "Hampster Party" (reaching #44). It also reached #70 on the U.S. Hot Country Songs charts.
|Germany (Media Control Charts)||60|
|US Billboard Hot Dance Music/Maxi Singles Sales||4|
|US Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks||70|
|United Kingdom (The Official Charts Company)||2|
- ^ a b c Whitburn, Joel (2008). Hot Country Songs 1944 to 2008. Record Research, Inc. p. 180. ISBN 0-89820-177-2.
- ^ BBC: Festive Fifty 1999
- ^ Top 10 Web fads - from CNET
- ^ Wilkening, Matthew (September 11, 2010). "100 Worst Songs Ever -- Part Two of Five". AOL Radio. Retrieved December 20, 2010.
- ^ Canadian peak
- ^ australian-charts.com - Hampton The Hamster - The Hampsterdance Song
- ^ a b "My Heart Goes Boom (La Di Da Da)", in various singles charts Lescharts.com (Retrieved April 29, 2009)
- ^ a b Billboard Allmusic.com (Retrieved April 29, 2009)
- ^ UK Singles Chart Chartstats.com (Retrieved August 12, 2009)