Originally known as "the Annoying Thing," the helium-voiced, bluish-gray, anatomically correct CGI lump Crazy Frog became a pop culture epidemic in Europe and especially the U.K., with ringtones, TV commercials, pop songs, and other forms of (over)exposure. Though Crazy Frog mania began its momentum in 2004, the character's creation took several years. In the late '90s, Swedish teen Daniel Malmedahl began recording his impressions of internal combustion motors; after he performed on a television show, the impressions were posted on the Internet and became a fad among file-sharers. Fellow Swede Erik Wernquist, a computer animator, heard Malmedahl's noises in 2000 and was inspired by his impression of a moped motor to create the Annoying Thing, and posted the animation on his website, where it also became a popular Net attraction. Though Wernquist initially credited the Annoying Thing's voice as "Anonymous," Malmedahl eventually contacted him and Wernquist gave credit where it was due.

The Annoying Thing made its debut as a marketing tool in 2001, when it appeared in Belgian ringtone commercials. By 2004, the character -- rechristened Crazy Frog -- was licensed as a sound and video ringtone for cellular phones and was accompanied by a massive advertising push that included a deluge of TV commercials. Crazy Frog's popularity peaked in the spring and summer of 2005, when the full-length single of the "Axel F" ringtone, which was created by members of the German production team Bass Bumpers and based on Harold Faltermeyer's instrumental theme for Beverly Hills Cop, topped the U.K. singles charts for several weeks. It was so popular that it kept Coldplay's comeback single, Speed of Sound, from debuting at number one. Later that summer, the ringtone and full-length album Crazy Frog Presents Crazy Hits marked the Frog's arrival in the States. In 2006, the Crazy Frog phenomenon was still healthy in Europe, with toys and gadgets available and a potential TV series in the works; that summer, the Frog dropped another album, aptly named More Crazy Hits. ~ Heather Phares, Rovi