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Witch Doctor (song): Wikis

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"Witch Doctor"
Single by David Seville
Released 1958
Format 45 rpm
Recorded 1958
Genre Comedy
Label Liberty
Writer(s) Ross Bagdasarian, Sr.
Producer Ross Bagdasarian, Sr.

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

Contents

Song information

The song tells the story of a man who loved a woman who did not return his affections. Longing for her companionship, the man went to see a witch doctor for advice on the situation. The wise witch doctor offered his advice saying, "Oo ee ah ah ting tang walla walla bing bang" (which is repeated five times as the chorus of the song). At the middle of the song, the man tells the woman he loves about his asking the witch doctor for advice.

The "witch doctor" was in fact Bagdasarian's own voice sped up to double speed, a technique he would later exploit to create Alvin and the Chipmunks (and had also used on at least one other pre-Chipmunk song, "The Bird on My Head"). Because of this, it is often referred to (even in later compilations) as the first song by the Chipmunks; this is not precisely true. For one, only one sped-up "chipmunk" voice is featured instead of three. Furthermore, Bagdasarian (as Seville) insisted that it was not technically a Chipmunks song in an episode of The Alvin Show when he exclaims "I made that record once!" and Alvin responds "But not with us!" The first true song by the "group" was "The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late)."

Chart performance

Credited as the character David Seville, the song peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100. The single was considered a major surprise hit on the chart, where it stayed at number one for two weeks and became Seville's first number-one single. The single also peaked at number one 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.

Chipmunk versions

Ross Bagdasarian re-recorded the song in 1960 featuring Alvin and the Chipmunks and included it on their second album, Sing Again with the Chipmunks. This version would evenutally be adapted into one of the musical segments featured on The Alvin Show. The Chipmunks would also perform a dance version released in 1996 on Club Chipmunk: The Dance Mixes. In 2007, DeeTown recorded a hip-hop dance version for inclusion in the live action Alvin and the Chipmunks film.

Cover versions

The first cover version was recorded in 1958 by the British musician Don Lang and made the UK Top 10. The song has also been covered by Sha Na Na and Manuel "El Loco" Valdes. New wave band Devo recorded it for The Rugrats Movie soundtrack, with new lyrics.

A modified version was also used in a commercial for Tab soda, with "ting tang" being replaced by "Tab taste".

The song was also used in a commercial for the Nintendo game Dr. Mario.[1]

In the episode "The Bend in the River" of The A-Team, Murdock wears a mask, singing the song to himself and B. A. Baracus.

In the episode "Make Room for Lisa" of The Simpsons, Homer Simpson sings the song to himself while he and Lisa are in separate water-filled sensory deprivation tanks, with slightly different lyrics.

While not covering the song per se, the American rock band Clutch (band) references it on the song "Texan Book Of The Dead" from their 1995 eponymous album by using the chorus of the song as a form of incantation, preserving the original intent.

In The Chipmunk Adventure, Miss Miller sings this song as she is driving to pick up Dave from the airport at the end of the film.

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Cartoons version

"Witch Doctor"
Single by Cartoons
from the album Toonage
Released 1998
Format CD single, CD maxi single
Recorded 1998
Genre Eurodance
Label FLEX
Producer Cartoons
Cartoons singles chronology
"Witch Doctor"
(1998)
"Doodah!"
(1998)

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 #2 on the UK Singles Chart. An Italian version also appears on the album More Toonage.

The Cartoons' cover was also featured in the Dance Dance Revolution series, starting with DDRMAX Dance Dance Revolution 6thMix (A loosely based song interpreted by Banya was also featured in the Pump It Up Dancing Game).

Track listings

CD single
  1. "Witch Doctor" (Radio Mix) (3.05)
  2. "Witch Doctor" (Extended Mix) (4.14)
  3. "Witch Doctor" (Out Of Africa Remix) (5.09)

Charts

Chart (1998) Peak
position
Belgian Singles Chart (Flanders) 9
Dutch Singles Chart 12
French Singles Chart 22
New Zealand Singles Chart 31
Swedish Singles Chart 13
UK Singles Chart 2

References

Preceded by
"Twilight Time" by The Platters
Billboard Top 100 number-one single (David Seville version)
April 28, 1958 – May 5, 1958
Succeeded by
"All I Have to Do Is Dream" by the Everly Brothers

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