Album: "The Pac-Man Album"
Genre: Children's Music
Label: Kid Stuff Records
Review: We're in the post-holiday season, which means it's time for us to reflect on the hangover we collectively had, brought on by copious amounts of holiday cheer (and bourbon-loaded eggnog in my case), and consider all the miscellaneous bits of fun (and horror) that the holiday season brought us.
In honor of this, I am going to review an album. Not one that is near and dear to me, oh no. What I am instead going to review is one of the worst abominations ever pressed to record, mostly because the first time I ever heard it was at my Uncle's when one of my Aunts got him it for the holiday. Suffice to say they are no longer married, and whilst there may be some dispute over this in my family, I personally blame this album.
But first, some back story.
In the late 70s and early 80s, Pac-Man was king. The game was the king of the arcades, and the proud American tradition of merchandising was in full swing. Which means we saw Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man damned near everywhere. t-shirts, coloring books, a cartoon series, Chef Boyardee pasta, and of course, the only cereal in history that gave Dino Pebbles a run for its money in terms of marshmallow-to-cereal ratio. I wouldn't be surprised if they had heretofore unheard-of Pac-Man prophylactics someplace. Hell, I specifically remember having Pac-Man sheets and a Pac-Man pillowcase.
The long and short of it was this: if it had Pac-Man on it, it sold.
Which brings us to the album. Numerous songs with noises or music from the games emerged, such as Pac-Man Fever and Pac-Man: Power Pill. Then, we have the somewhat-rare but positively infamous album that is going to be reviewed today: The Pac-Man Album.
An old friend of mine used to think the funniest unintentionally funny thing I'd ever heard was William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy's "Spaced Out," which was the epitome of so-awful-it's funny in his eyes - until one day, when that was trumped by Gunther Levi's "Pleasureman" (and Protoclown's review thereof). I thought I might have a chance if I showed him this, and so I did.
He explained to me that "Pleasureman" had finally been dethroned. I would argue this; Levi's collagen-loaded lips and MULLET OF DESTINY kind of trump anything a badly-conceived album from 1980 might have in its arsenal. Regardless, once again, the bar has been slammed downward with the force of a sledgehammer, and I am forced to subject you, the I-Mockery reader, to this journey into undiluted insanity from my childhood.
This album transcends ineptitude, constituting a work of undiluted madness that has thus far defied my attempts to classify it. Whatever it is, you will either be laughing at it or horrified by it, depending on your point of view; there is no middle ground. Considering that Pac-Man has been known to drive even the mightiest of men to madness, this does not bode well.
Rather than simply tell you of this game's fail, I am going to do the equivalent of allowing the abyss to stare back at you, and let you listen to - nay - EXPERIENCE the Pac-Man Album in MP3 Format. Brace yourselves.
First, go download the album. It's right here.
Go on, I'll wait right here. Got it? Good. Then to quote Dr. Weird... IT BEGINS!!
1. Pac-Man Theme
This is our first song on this album, and already you're privy to the kind of pain the listener is in for. Entirely done in a disturbingly-discordant synth, this track is a little over a minute, and whilst it has a retro charm, it's rather painful to listen to due to the sort of wonky noises it consists of. Sadly, if you can believe it, this song has enormous relevance; it would later form the inspiration for the soundtrack of Pac-Man 2 on SNES. The fact that this soundtrack was HORRID speaks volumes. It's repetitive and silly, but like the infamous Silver Shamrock theme from a certain Halloween movie, when listened to, this song will bore into your brain like one of the Sentinel spheres from Phantasm - and then NEVER LEAVE.
2. Pac-Man's Magic Land
This track opens up with a narrator asking us: "Have you ever closed your eyes, and imagined you were in a faraway place? I do all the time. One of my favorite places to visit is the magic land of Pac-Man. So close your eyes, use your imagination, and journey with me to this magic land." Did I mention that that entire block of text was a tagline on the back of the album?
Regardless, it then cuts to some singing which... Makes surprisingly little sense, with the same ridiculous synth that sounds very much like someone rubbing balloons together too hard. "If there is a magic land where everything from sunrise to sunset is better than the best of sunny days," the singer leads off with, leaving audiences as baffled as they were with the prospect that actual humans worked on this at some point. As the track closes, it brings in very soft sound effects from the game.
3. I'm Number One
This track brings a different announcer who talks with a different voice. This announcer explains that the magic land of Pac-Man is "the land of whatever you want it to be," and goes on to explain that he's "the Pac-Man," which would be obviously very deep and philosophical, if it weren't for the fact that the announcer has a lisp, making this seem vaguely homoerotic and creepy. Sadly, this only gets worse as the song continues, and Pac-Man goes on about how he "can be played all day and not get tired; got the energy that's required," as his backup singers drone a constant "He's number, he's number one" in the background. It gets worse later on, as Pac-Man increasingly sounds like he's having difficulty containing his jubilation to the point of being creepy, and he explains how "no one has ever questioned how much fun he is..." As needlessly creepy as it is hilarious, this track, like all of them on this record, is pretty short.
4. The Gang of Ghosts Quarter
That is not my typo. It really is listed as "Gang of Ghosts Quarter" on the album cover, though the actual title is "Gang of Ghosts Quartet."
That's some nice quality there.
This one is widely considered the worst song on the Album, and for very good reason: roughly 1/3 of it is utterly indecipherable, to the point where the Kingsmen's utterly-inexorable "Louie Louie" seems coherent by contrast - it's that bad. The track opens with Pac-Man explaining that there are four Ghosts, Speedy, Pokey, Bashful, and Shadow, who are trying to run him out of town.
GAMING NERD MOMENT: For the uninitiated, these secondary names are the Ghosts' behaviors and were what they were called here in the US until the release of Ms. Pac-Man, which gave them their proper english names (Pinky Blinky, Inky, Clyde). /END OF NERD MOMENT.
Back to the song. Pac-Man explains that the four occasionally like to sing, and allow us to listen in on a session... And it's all downhill from here. They make their introductions, and... that's it. I can't understand a goddamned thing they say after this. It's a garbled mess, and mostly because of the voices they're doing. If you can understand any of the lyrics in this song beyond the introduction, for the love of god, tell me, because I've been trying to figure it out for years, and I'm almost entirely sure that Speedy screams something anti-semetic during the first verse.
5. Turning Blue
This one opens with actual game sound-effects, and has Pac-Man explaining that he needs to use one of his "Energizers."
GAMING NERD MOMENT: This is, again, what these were called before the release of Ms. Pac-Man, which actually called them what they were (Power Pellets). /END OF NERD MOMENT.
Back to the song. Pac-Man explains how when he uses one, the Ghosts turn blue, and that there's nothing he'd rather do than see it. This asks so many questions: How can Pac-Man talk when he's eating (if the game is to be believed, he's running around which means he's eating the pellets)? Why is he just watching them when they turn blue instead of eating the ghosts? Regardless, the song continues, telling us "those other guys, other guys want you," and "those other guys can't can't have you," once again rendering the song confusing and slightly sinister unintentionally.
6. He's Too Busy For Me
The evidence against Pac-Man's heterosexuality is mounting with this song, who is sung by Ms. Pac-Man. The intro once again starts with lisping Pac-Man going on about how he loves running around the mazes and could do it forever, before Ms. Pac-Man chimes in and lowers the glass cieling about three feet by complaining that Pac-Man never pays any attention to her. The song is basically a lengthy session of Ms. Pac-Man complaining that Pac-Man and her could be happy if he stopped running around for a few hours and the two could be friends. Pac-Man chimes in that he didn't know she felt that way and strives to improve, but Ms. Pac-Man continues her song and ignores him. That's cold, woman. No wonder he sounds gay.
7. If It's a Game
The song brings back the announcer from track 2, who asks us: "aren't they cute?" Before explaining that the awesome thing about pretending is that you can believe you're anywhere. He then states that if pretending is a game, he'll do it over and over and over again. Then the song starts proper, and once again plunges the listener into utter confusion within 40 seconds, as the song begins "When we get up with the morning sun, we are ready to be on the run," and "Who knows what excitement waits? We could play all day, desire is all it takes...." before it continues with a loop of "If it's a game that we are playing, it's a game I want to play over and over again." The singer then goes on about how there's "So many ways to play, we could spend days," making most question if we're discussing the same Pac-Man that a certain I-Mockery head played to level 865.
8. The Pac-Man Finale
And now, the Pac-Man Finale... which is the Pac-Man Theme. Again! Uhm... yay?
Now I know what you're thinking: That was wretched. And it was. But I'm not done with you yet. Or Pac-Man Albums for that matter. There's another, a Christmas album, which now that you're aware of, you have no choice but to go and read about if you haven't already.
How this album rates depends on how you analyze it. If you listen to it looking for unintentional hilarity, then this album is comedic gold. This aside, it's as pleasant as becoming part of a Human Centipede. Because of that, I'm forced to buff its score from its original merits from one to one-and-a-half pickles.
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)
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