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 a yet-to-be-announced cable channel 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.
Released in November 2011, ‘Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked’ was a video game based on the movie of the same name, released for the Wii, DS and the Xbox 360. Like the previous “Alvin & The Chipmunks” and “Squeakquel” video game adaptations, Ross Bagdasarian, Jr. and Janice Karman reprised their respective roles. In the game, the player dances on beat with The Chipmunks (or The Chipettes) and earn stars if they performed very well (or “munk-tastic”). The earned stars can then be used to purchase hats, glasses, outfits, and bling for their Chipmunk or Chipette. In Co-Op mode, the player can dance with a partner taking turns dancing on beat with their chosen Munk. One of the tracks that players can dance to is Alvin and the Chipmunks’ version of Kids in America.