Ringtones are a bit of an art. There are rules that govern ringtones, of course; the art lies in how you satisfy them.
1) You may not simply set a song as your ringtone, as this is some bull shit. It is some weak sauce. No. Request denied.
2) Rather, your ringtone must be seamlessly loopable. This means that you typically need to clip a powerfully recognizable section from the song, preferably the introduction or hook.
3) It must be coordinated with a matching Notification sound.
These rules are obviously self-evident, but rule out a lot of things that would otherwise be quite excellent.
For example, the theme song from Johnny Quest is absolutely amazeballs and is for sure iconic -- but it has no chorus, and the most iconic portions are not repeated, so it's impossible to loop. Also there isn't a clear notification counterpart. Same for the theme from Peter Gunn.
More recently, Nyan Cat is, obviously, extremely loopable and is basically ready-made to be a ringtone. (In fact I even used this for a while and it really
annoyed people -- so awesome.) But there isn't an obvious coordinating notification sound, so it kind of fails.
Video games, however, tend to work well -- especially ones from the 80s since the old 8 and 16 bit chiptunes were looped by necessity. Since they are games, they also have excellent coordinating sound effects -- Mario theme song + 1-up sound, for example, or the Zelda theme song plus the "you found a secret!" 6-tone ditty (which +Jason Chen
once used to excellent effect.)
But, video games are too easy, in a way. Real artistry is to distill and invoke pop culture from multiple media (or at least, their music.)
I've been meaning, for example, to dig up some Knight Rider tracks, and see if you can loop the iconic introduction to that song as the ringtone, and use KITT's "whoosh-whoosh" sound effect as the notification. I also think you might be able to loop the M*A*S*H theme song properly, and use a helicopter sound for notifications. Game shows might also be fertile ground.
I've had two moments of ringtone glory in my career, which I consider outstanding ringtone achievements.
For a while I had my ringtone set to the Mega Man 2 introduction's "top of the skyscraper" beat-drop sequence -- it can be looped perfectly. (https://youtu.be/auQv90TfXrI
) The notification tone was Mega Man's end-of-stage teleport sound effect (which I used for Calendar especially -- i.e. "time to be somewhere else.")
One day I was in ye olde weekly Android team meeting, and my mom called me. I immediately slipped my phone out of my pocket, silenced it, and set it on the table, but it was too late -- everyone was looking at me. +Hiroshi Lockheimer
then says, "I guess the 80s just called Dan" Like a boss (if I do say so myself), I was like, "That's right."
A few years later, I was using this lovingly hand-crafted, utterly perfectly looped Trololo Guy clip (https://youtu.be/sTSA_sWGM44
) with a Nyan Cat "nyan" for notifications. (One might argue that this is reaching a bit vis a vis
Rule 3, but never mind that.) I was sitting in my office, and my office mate +Chris DiBona
was talking with a visitor, who shall remain nameless but is one of my Troll Models.
My phone rings; I pull it out, and silence it. The conversation had stopped, so I look over and my Troll Model is looking at me with unalloyed admiration.
"What... Is that your ringtone?"
"That is amazing. Where did you get it?"
"I made it. ...want a copy?"
When your ringtone terminates conversations in stunned wonderment, that's when you know you're doing it right.