Everyone has their holiday music. For some, it’s Mariah Carey’s version of All I want for Christmas is you. My family celebrations are unfortunately haunted by Dominic the donkey (the Italians out there know my pain). However, this year it’s time for me to share my own Christmas traditions with you all, like the videotape in The ring.
Celebrate the day by dressing in what is absolutely disturbing Pac-Man Christmas Album.
Released in 1982 during the franchise’s Hanna-Barbera cartoon era, Pac-Man’s foray into Christmas music is almost certainly not what you’re expecting. It’s not an album full of traditional Christmas carols sung by the cast of the TV show. Instead, it’s an unpredictable 25-minute odyssey filled with original songs that will terrify your family.
There is a story that runs throughout the album, with spoken dialogue from the Pac family. Pac-Man generally sounds like a drunken Muppet trapped in a metal isolation chamber while his children seem to be voiced by heavily erect adults. Things get particularly spooky when Pac-Man invites over his enemies, the ghosts, who speak in absurdly over-the-top bank robber voices. I’m confident that the same actor does every voice on the record, including Ms. Pac-Man.
That would be spooky enough on its own, but the actual music in between the narration really makes this a special Christmas nightmare. Each song is a track in its own right, most of which center around understated synth textures and beats that feel like they’re preloaded on a vintage Casio keyboard. The kicker, though, is that most of them (use that word lightly here) are sung by the Pac family, using the same weird cartoon voices I mentioned above.
Highlights are timeless classics such as snowflakes and frozen lakes, which sounds like a Kate Bush song. The Pac family mumbles over air synth loops and occasionally giggles like school kids. the last trace Friends again, is a three-minute magnum opus that approaches outsider art. Like many of the songs, it doesn’t really have anything to do with Christmas; It just features a real singer humming about the power of friendship while the cartoon characters laugh like The Joker.
My favorite song – maybe even unironically – is a left field alt country jam called An old-fashioned Christmas. It’s a melodically appealing song about Christmas smooching (“Give me an old-fashioned Christmas and I’ll give you an old-fashioned kiss!”). It’s notable for a nice little guitar solo that reinterprets old holiday standards in licks. It also features big wet kissy sounds. This is a good time to remind you that we’re talking about the Pac-Man Christmas Album.
If it sounds like I’m going to dip into this record, I’m not – well, I’m mostly not. It’s an absolutely bizarre, unsettling collection of music, but one that I’ve come to love with a certain degree of sincerity over the last few years. Listening to it takes me back to a time when gaming companies weren’t so protective of their greatest characters. Oddities like this were more common and made for these charming historical niches. It’s an old-fashioned Christmas record, just like Grandma made it (as the song is called).
So if you’re looking to add some new songs to your tired old Christmas playlist today, give it a try Some days are more important or The magic of Christmass. Your family will absolutely hate you for this, but isn’t that really what the holidays are about?