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September 27, 2005 - Image 11

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The Michigan Daily, 2005-09-27

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ARTS

The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, September 27, 2005 -11

Ringtones revolutionize the charts

I

By Chris Gaerig
Daily Arts Writer
No one thinks that Coldplay is
unstoppable, but who would've ever
thought that they'd be thrown from
No. 1 spot on the U.K. Singles Chart
by a spastic, ear-piercing, 20-hertz
AC wave known as "Crazy Frog?" In
what seems like an instant, ringtones
have gone from insignificance to a
chart-topping $3-billion worldwide
industry. Led by the now-infamous
"Crazy Frog" and the creation of
Billboard's Top 20 Ringtones Chart,
the infectious sound bites are fast
becoming a fixture in pop culture
and the music industry.
The first cell phones were capable
of playing only monophonic ring-
tones. The tinny rhythms gave
owners little flexibility or choices.
Consumers could hear classics like
Mozart's "Fur Elise" and "40 Sym-
phony" but were unable to obtain
other tones. Polyphonic ringers soon
took over the field, allowing for
more realistic songs and clips.
As the technology improved, the
tones began to sound more like
actual songs. The newest type of
ringer is the "real music" ringtone.
These ringers are highly com-
pressed MP3 or WAV files, allow-
ing actual recordings to be played
over a phone's speakers. It is these
tones that have led to the surge
in popularity. Before two years
ago, all you'd hear disturbing your
anthropology lecture was a few
beeps, but now you're lucky enough
to bounce to "Ignition (Remix)" for
30 seconds or so.
The most widely known ringtone
is Jamster's "Crazy Frog." The proj-
ect was started several years ago by
artist Erik Wernquist as an attempt

The "Crazy Frog
Song," released
on May 23, 2005,
quickly reached
the No. 1 spot on
the U.K. Singles
Chart, bumping
British powerhouse
Coldplay from
the top spot.
to imitate small automobile engines.
It was later purchased by Jamster
and it became one of the most down-
loaded ringtones on the market.
The Bass Bumpers - a German
group of musicians - took the
popular ringtone and crafted a song
from it using samples and melodies.
The "Crazy Frog Song," released on
May 23, 2005, quickly reached the
top of the U.K. charts.
The Bass Bumpers are not the
only group capitalizing on the
"Crazy Frog" phenomenon. British
dance trio L.O.C. recently released
"Ring Ding Ding," a track that
samples the "Crazy Frog." While it
wasn't nearly as successful as The
Bass Bumpers's smash hit, it did
manage the No. 58 spot on the U.K.
Singles Chart. Conversely, rock
group Frog Must Die released "Kill
the Frog" - the name leaves little to
the imagination.
"Crazy Frog" has opened count-
less doors in the music industry;
No human artist is needed to record
a hit single anymore. While The
Bass Bumpers are credited with the

creation of the "Crazy Frog Song,"
the foundation of the track was
something generated randomly with
no intention for musical use. The
lack of artistic expression needed
for a successful ringtone could
result with music executives across
the country sampling random bab-
blings and layering them on top of
the demo track on the closest Casio
keyboard.
The release date of Missy Elliot's
The Cookbook and Mike Jones's
Who Is Mike Jones? saw another
milestone. Cingular Wireless offered
downloadable MP3s of every song
on each album. This not only helped
to promote the CDs but also the
ringtones that would later be offered.
In 2003, Jay-Z's "Black Phone"
- a spin-off marketing ploy for his
hugely successful Black Album -
was our first glimpse of these inno-
vations. The special edition of the
Nokia 3300 came pre-programmed
with the entire Black Album and had
features like exclusive wallpapers,
ringtones and text and voice mes-
sages from Jay-Z himself.
With such a broad spectrum of
downloads, though, how else would
they be used? LSA sophomore Sang
Do Lee's phone plays the "Super
Mario Bros." theme when he gets a
call, while fellow LSA sophomore
Madeline Bean rocks to Jay-Z's
"Change Clothes." Each person can
find an anthem for their own phone.
Ringtones stand to completely
revolutionize the music industry as
a whole and become a significant
cultural entity. They pose a serious
threat to musicians and the musical
process as it's known, but for now
remain one of the more light-hearted
expressions of individuality in con-
temporary society.

"Did someone just step on a duck?"

RISE OF THE 'BAXTER
MELANCHOLY HERO REVIVES ROMANTIC COMEDY

DAILY AR TS.
TOBIAS: "TIME FOR ME TO TAKE OFF MY RECEPTIONIST
SKIRT AND PUT ON MY BARBARA STREISAND IN THE
'PRINCE OF TIDES' ASS-MASKING THERAPIST PANTSUTll
WANT TO SEE US RE-ENACT THE SCENE? COME
SUNDAY'S AT12 34 TO 420 MAYNARD ST.

By Kristin MacDonald
Daily Arts Writer
Fji M REVIEW
"Compromise is the key to success" - or so claims Elliot
Sherman, the sad-sack hero of the new romantic comedy
"The Baxter." This is the type of guy
who orders white wine spritzers at bars, T
sports your grandfather's plaid pageboy The Baxter
cap and refers to dating as "courting," At the Michigan
all with an unironically straight face. Theater
In other words, Elliot (Michael Show- IFC Films
alter, who also wrote and directed) is a
"baxter," the movie's term for any guy
who doesn't get the girl and never has.
In high school, college and grad school alike, Elliot sits back
and watches as each potential love interest, tired of his over-
gentlemanly passivity, rush into the arms of some other lead-
ing man's movie-moment speech of eternal devotion.
Enter Caroline (Elizabeth Banks, "Spider-man"), an attrac-
tive blonde businesswoman with whom Elliot somehow gets
himself engaged, despite the fact that she is clearly way the
hell out of his league. Once armed with a fiancee, Elliot's life
settles into a contented plateau - until a much more appealing
blast from Caroline's past (Justin Theroux, "Charlie's Angels:
Full Throttle") sweeps in to upset Elliot's future.
Will he be able to salvage his engagement? It doesn't really
matter, because, in fact, nobody should want him to. Elliot is
indeed too nice a guy to make this livewire of a woman happy,

and so her reason for being with him, much less for staying
with him, remains a mystery. They are too mismatched to ever
root for, and even if that's not clear to Elliot, it certainly is
to everyone else. He is far more suited to fellow dweeb Cecil
(Michelle Williams, from TV's "Dawson's Creek," who,
between a perky bob and bright pink cheeks, is almost unbear-
ably cute), and takes an inordinately long time to realize it.
The simplicity of Elliot's plight inevitably leads the plot into
a few too many devices used purely to perpetuate the comic
awkwardness of inept Elliot getting snubbed again and again.
Such humor could have very well proved monotonous - that
is, if Showalter was not such an expert. Perhaps due to a long
history as one third of the comedy troupe featured on Com-
edy Central's "Stella," Showalter proves well versed in keep-
ing the awkward interesting. "The Baxter" is funny, plain and
simple - quirkily, inanely, and, yes, awkwardly funny. And
the lively party owes more than a little credit to the varied
mix of fairly well-known comedians who nicely flesh out the
supporting cast.
Peter Dinklage, none other than the popular Hollywood
dwarf, is the most noticeable of the scene-stealing side char-
acters. He plays Caroline's gay wedding planner - a role that
could have easily slipped into the usual limp-wristed carica-
ture. Dinklage instead plays randy without sinking to insult,
and one of the most memorable moments in the entire film
consists of little more than his few seconds of hopeful guy-
watching on a New York City street. In a movie about a man
frustratingly incapable of taking even a step toward what (or
who) he wants, it's fitting that the highlight should come from
a guy who's more than willing to make the first move.

I

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