Crazy Frog


Ryan Lally '22

According to renowned 19th-century English author Edward Bulwer-Lytton, “The pen is mightier than the sword,” or at least this is the man to whom this colloquially eminent maxim is imputed.  Yet, according to Lemony Snicket, a master of the pen in his own right, “Anyone who thinks the pen is mightier than the sword has not been stabbed with both.”  Perhaps this rebuttal accurately depicts our world, in which violence commonly prevails over artistic expression.  Taken one step further, the adage evolves into a more telling phrase, this time from a man not renowned for his eloquence:  General Douglas MacArthur (subject of the Senior Thesis of Love Doctor, Miles Pim ‘22) remarked:  “Whoever said the pen is mightier than the sword obviously never encountered automatic weapons.”  Yea, as The Byrds tells us in “Turn, Turn, Turn”,  drawing inspiration, of course, from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, there is “A time of love, a time of hate, a time of war, a time of peace”, thus such modern conventions as automatic weapons have their place in society.  But while the barbaric instruments of war may remove all political opposition or be used to gain world-dominance, no munitions have the power to change a man’s heart in the most fundamental sense, nor can they inspire meaningful change in their creator’s world.  Here is where the pen triumphs, and poetic merit and revelation shine brightest.  Many have proven to be formidable forces of both the English language and the inexplicable phenomenon that is music, accessing the hearts and minds of audiences by means of their eyes and ears.  Yet one musician has separated himself from the rest in every intricate facet of art:  A wealth of knowledge pertaining to the work of his predecessors, and an uncanny ability to weave such influences together, a remarkable capacity for transformation and self-discovery, the unwavering courage to comment on and challenge social normalities, and the inexplicable musical intuition to reach multiple generations, serving as inspiration for each of his listeners.  I am speaking, of course, about Crazy Frog.  

Many philosophers believe that no new ideas are being produced anymore.  Every thought that can be thought has been thought already.  Whether or not one agrees with this mere theory, the notion that such a possibility exists makes it much easier to appreciate when a person is able to blend ideas, drawing inspiration from many sources, and using these sources to masterfully weave an intricate depiction of one’s message, even if said message has been expressed before.  Just as the great Bob Dylan so masterfully references Shakespeare, Perrault, Genesis, Victor Hugo, the parables of Christ, Sigmund Freud, and many more influential figures in “Desolation Row” so as to paint a vivid image of Andy Warhol’s famous studio The Factory, so does our hero, Crazy Frog, entwine the works of Queen (We are the Champions), Gloria Gaynor (I Will Survive), RUN DMC (It’s Tricky), Rednex (Cotton Eyed Joe), and many others into his body of work, making each established work his own, thereby creating something new entirely.  In fact, perhaps the greatest example of Crazy Frog’s innovation and collaboration comes in the form of his most famous song, entitled “Axel F”.  The tune is derived from the theme of the hit 1984 film Beverly Hills Cop, starring Eddie Murphy.  From within the song’s enticing beat emerge the signature onomatopoeic innovations of the artist, such as “Ring”, “Ding,” and “Baa,” much akin to Dylan’s use of “Jingle-Jangle” in his self-proclaimed masterpiece “Mr. Tambourine Man.”  But this is neither here nor there.  That which is more telling of Crazy Frog’s influence is how “Axel F” has been received.  After being popularized due to its remarkable musical qualities, it is now colloquially referred to as “Crazy Frog”.  There is no longer any indication of the film from which Crazy Frog drew inspiration in the making of the song.  His creativity and utter revolution of such a classic song has resulted in the song being attributed to him.  The most prominent example which comes to mind is Jimi Hendrix’s performance of Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower”.  While Dylan wrote and performed the original song, Hendrix’s unique rendition features his own style and abilities which are separate from those of Dylan.  Dylan, himself, has said that the song now belongs to Jimi Hendrix, as Hendrix’s rendition was that which popularized the work and is best-known today.  One can only appreciate when art serves as inspiration for further artistic revelation, so much so that the result is something new entirely.  Such is the genius of Crazy Frog.  

Just as Crazy Frog constantly changes the works of those before him so as to unleash his immense creativity, he must, too, change himself, and undergo the metamorphosis necessary to all true artists.  Bob Dylan began his career as a folk singer, before revolutionizing Rock and Roll, and then the Blues, and then Electronic Music.  No, Dylan is not pandering to new audiences, he is merely evolving in the ways in which his genius compels him.  His evolution as an artist is evident in his clothing, in his music, and in his worldview, as seen when he comments on the French poet Rimbaud both at the beginning and end of his career.  A similar pattern is present in Crazy Frog.  In 2005, Crazy Frog published hits such as “Axel F” and “Popcorn”, two of his best-known electronic songs.  However, he altered the course of his career forever near Christmas of the same year, when he released his own version of “Jingle Bells”.  In 2006, Crazy Frog toes the line, both moving toward the future while drawing inspiration from the past, with his release of “We Are the Champions.”  This fluctuation and exploration has continued throughout Frog’s lengthy and accomplished career, seemingly culminating in the 2021 release of “Tricky”, which serves as Frog’s foray into the genre of rap.  As Frog is an artist, he does not look back, but he does that which he is compelled to do, and does it for his own artistic gratification.  

Crazy Frog may share much in common with the great Bob Dylan.  However, Crazy Frog seems to draw inspiration from even further sources, some non-musical altogether.  The Greek Philosopher Diogenes was known for strolling about the city naked so as to challenge the social normalities of his era.  Similarly, Crazy Frog is lightly clad, if clothed at all, in the vast majority of his videos.  Perchance he merely feels more free to express himself in this manner, but the more probable explanation is that the seemingly graphic presentation in his videos demands the viewer’s attention immediately, and makes him or her more attuned to the subliminal messages at hand.  Frog’s courage to challenge societal normalities and standards proved unwavering in his 2005 scandal, in which he was chastised for his choice of apparel (or lack thereof) as he represented British phone-service provider Jamba! on television.  Such criticism did not, however, deter his loyal followers, who best understand his demonstrative actions.  In his 2021 video for “Tricky”, viewers clearly see a space-launch labeled “Space-Y:  Space Travel for the Ultra Rich”.  This is most obviously a nod to Elon Musk’s company, “Space-X”.  Crazy Frog illegally boards the rocket, evading capture, and gains entry to space.  Crazy Frog demonstrates the courage to dream, despite the socioeconomic limitations imposed on certain members of  society.  To this day, Crazy Frog makes his own artistic choices, and does not heed the criticisms of those too blind to reap the rewards that are his messages.  He is who he feels he must be, hence why he is such an accomplished artist.  

In Phillip Larkin’s poem “A Study of Reading Habits”, the poet discusses the two ways in which literature can be utilized:  It can be a tool to either escape the world in which we live, or to engage it, and effect meaningful change.  So, too, can music be an escape from reality and into the recesses of one’s mind.  But, as Crazy Frog would argue vehemently, music serves a far greater purpose, as it has the potential to bring people together towards a common goal.  I speak from experience.  After winning games, the hockey team would often celebrate by playing “Axel F” and dancing in the locker room.  The song served as an anthem that brought the team closer together, and helped us stay focused on our common goal of a championship.  Said goal came to fruition, and in homage to the song which was so instrumental to our success, we played “Axel F” at the party which we attended after the game.  The song had been a quintessential part of the Priory hockey program for years, a tribute to those who had come before us, and a legacy to leave behind for those after, in the name of tradition.  May this song, commonly known as “Crazy Frog” continue to inspire Priory’s hockey players for years to come.  

Is it wrong to insert such emotion into an academic paper?  Perhaps.  Maybe “improper” is the most fitting word.  But Crazy Frog has demonstrated that sometimes being improper is necessary to adequately convey one’s sentiment.  And here is mine:  Crazy Frog, in his infinite musical genius, has touched the hearts of millions of lives, including mine, and serves as an inspiration to this day.  For the aforementioned reasons and a multitude of others, Crazy Frog is definitively a musical and lyrical Genius, perhaps akin to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.  Which musical genius proves superior to the other with respect to musical merit?  This comparison is not only unjust, it is ludicrous.  While Crazy Frog’s music is certainly superior to that of Mozart, both in audible appeal and in content, it must be acknowledged that Mozart was constrained to the technological limitations of his time.  For this reason, we can never know if Mozart may have been the next Crazy Frog, whose talent was lost to his era.  But if Crazy Frog has taught us one thing through his eclectic and unique discography, it is that we ought not wonder what could have been, but take the past as the fuel which propels us from our present into our future, whatever that future may hold.