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Pac-Man Fever & "Korean Pop Song"

Welcome to WEEK 182 of 4T! (Video Episode #8) Buckner & Garcia – Pac-Man Fever (1982)

If you didn’t live it, you can’t feel it. The title track of this album was 100% accurate. While video games had been a craze for a few years, when Pac-Man was introduced in 1980, everyone went Berserk (pun intended – this was another arcade game released in 1980, and was almost always near or right beside the Pac-Man machine. Plus it’s the inspiration for the last song on this album.). Before Fortnite, before Minecraft, before Grand Theft Auto, before Doom, before even Super Mario – Pac-Man fever was the craze that started it all. Yes, Atari and Pong before that staked claims to some feverishness, but Pac-Man set the standard for all future temperature spikes.

I have been a huge video game fan since I got the Atari 2600 for Christmas back in 1977. I mostly play on my phone now, though occasionally play Switch games with my kids. Back then it was two things: hours in front of the TV with my joystick; and getting dumped at an arcade with my bro anytime my parents wanted some chill time alone – we loved it. Whatever the console or format or adrenalin delivery system, video games have been in my mix just about every week of my life for 40+ years. It’s no wonder that I went super nuts when my obsession merged with my first love: music.

No one is claiming anything on Buckner & Garcia’s album is genius – it was clearly cashing in on a trend. It cashed in big time with two million plus selling singles – the title track and “Do the Donkey Kong”. And it’s better than you might remember. I gotta give a shoutout to “Froggy’s Lament” & “Ode To A Centipede” too – Frogger & Centipede were huge games back then. Each song on this album was a tribute to one of the hot video/arcade games of the time, and all were equally cheesy fun. Listening back again, it sounds like each song was also meant to mimic other hot bands at the time, which is kinda cool to hear. Another cool fact is that Jerry Buckner (who’s still alive) cowrote the theme song to Wreck-It Ralph.

My old band Ape Café did a KICK-ASS live version of “Pac-Man Fever”. And now & then I’ll include a cheesy-type cover in my live sets. As far as writing & recording, though, I don’t really do novelty or tribute songs. But a few of my tunes that have that feel. I did theme songs for two movies I co-produced with my former film company that were both very tribute-y (“This End Up” and “Lock-Load-Love” – look them up on YouTube!). As far as a tune from one of my albums, “KPS” fits the bill. It’s a tribute to K-Pop, and features some distinctly video game-y sounds.

Favorites are all of Side One, and Side Two track 2 & 4?

CAN YOU NAME the other arcade games this album name checks?

CAN YOU IDENTIFY the bands each song was trying to mimic?

What are YOUR favorite video games?

Discuss dammit!

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