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 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 his 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, respectively. 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 two 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.