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Pac-Man Fever? I Think I'm Cured
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Once or twice I've read a review that concluded, "unless you were around at the time, you just won't get it." Now I know what they mean.
Originally I never quite understood what those reviewers were trying to say. Certainly I know what nostalgia is, and how it can make the old stuff seem better than it really was. Still, whenever I read one of those reviews, my reaction would be something along the lines of, "Well of course you're not going to get it if you weren't around. Maybe it just wasn't meant for you." That changed when I heard Buckner & Garcia's "Pac-Man Fever" for the first time.
In case you don't know, Buckner & Garcia were a radio production team, paying the bills with ad jingles and voice work when, at the dawn of the 1980s, they were swept up in the Pac-Man craze along with the rest of the nation. Opportunity struck, and the duo produced "Pac-Man Fever," a novelty tune about the dot-munching superstar. The song became a massive hit, leading to an album full of video game ditties like "Do the Donkey Kong" and "Goin' Berzerk."
As hard as it might be to believe, I had never heard "Pac-Man Fever," nor any of Buckner & Garcia's tunes, until this past week. While this might seem shameful for a self-professed game geek who grew up cherishing his Atari 2600 and his weekly trips to the mall arcade, it also gave me a chance to sample a piece of video game history without "having been there."
So, what is the verdict of this child of the '80s who hadn't experienced this bit of pop culture until more than 25 years after the fact? Answer: The song is crap. The rest of the album isn't any better.
Honestly, I can't believe how this became a hit. This is '80s pop music at its most generic and unmemorable, sounding, well, like ad jingles. That "Pac-Man Fever" enjoyed any kind of success to me just proves how popular video games, Pac-Man in particular, had really become. I must give credit to Buckner & Garcia for knowing how to ride the Pac-Man tidal wave, but it's a shame they didn't do it with something more substantial than this throw-away.
So, I guess to appreciate certain things, you really do have to have been there. Otherwise, you can only see it for what it is: junk. I get it. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to listen to Taco's "Puttin' on the Ritz"...
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