Aside from being a stunning movie location, Las Vegas has inspired numerous songs over the years. Various artists have penned songs in honour of Sin City, trying to capture the joys of hitting the jackpot and feeling grand though their lyrics and performance. Las Vegas has infiltrated different music styles and genres, from rock, country to pop, polka and R&B. As the mecca for the people who like to party, have fun, and live their life to the fullest, Vegas is a great source of inspiration for musicians such as Sheryl Crow, ZZ Top and even the King himself.
There are so many magnificent songs about the most dazzling city in Nevada, but here’s our list of handpicked tunes that should put you in the Vegas mood instantly.
Elvis Presley – Viva Las Vegas
One of the most iconic Elvis Presley songs, Viva Las Vegas was written by Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman as the title song for the 1964 film of the same name. The King is also the protagonist in the movie, playing a race car driver with a debt to pay off, so he has to become a waiter at a Vegas hotel. Elvis performs the title song at the hotel’s talent competition accompanied by various showgirls. His character is out of town and, like anyone who comes to Vegas, he is enthusiastic about hitting it rich in the city. So, he sings about the glitz and glamour he witnesses and the song ends up sounding like an advertisement for the city of Las Vegas.
Over the years, Viva Las Vegas became one of the most recognizable Sin City anthems, despite being ranked 29 on the 100 top lists in the USA when it came out. It has everything – bright lights, money ready to burn, a thousand pretty women, blackjack and poker and the roulette wheel, neon flashin’ and hot dice – what more could a Vegas visitor want?
Katy Perry – Waking Up In Vegas
Instead of being in awe in front of the grandeur and the craziness of Vegas, Katy Perry embraces it with both arms wide open. She sings about being free and reckless in Las Vegas without any guilt or remorse. There’s no need to apologize for being loose and having fun. In the end, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas anyway.
The song was created by Katy Perry, Desmond Child and Andreas Carlsson and it was released on Perry’s 2008 album One of the Boys. The singer talked about the origins of the song in her interview for The Sun shortly after the album’s release. In regard to Las Vegas, she said: “It’s really close to LA so one night you could be having a beer with your friends and, when you wake up, you’re in Vegas.” She also added that the song is meant to be fun and about getting into trouble without regrets. The music video for Waking Up In Vegas was filmed in – surprise, surprise – Las Vegas.
ZZ Top – Viva Las Vegas
The original Elvis song was covered by various artists, from Bruce Springsteen and Dead Kennedys to Amanda Lear and Dolly Parton and The Grascals. But one particular cover became nearly as famous as the original song, and that is the version of ZZ Top, an American Rock band from Texas. The boys have been rocking out since 1969 and they are not slowing down any time soon. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004.
The Viva Las Vegas cover by Frank Beard, Billy Gibbons and Dusty Hill was featured on the ZZ Top Greatest Hits album (1992) and it can be heard in the cult 1998 film The Big Lebowski. In 2019, ZZ Top is celebrating 50 years of hard rock & blues, long beards, fast cars, hot ladies and fuzzy guitars with a release of a 50-song collection which will contain everything from La Grange and Tush to I Gotsta Get Paid and – Viva Las Vegas. All the songs, including Viva Las Vegas, are carefully picked to illustrate the transformation of a little band from Texas into rock and roll giants with a massive following worldwide.
DJ BoBo – VIVA LAS VEGAS
The representative for Switzerland in the Eurovision Song Contest 2007 in Helsinki, DJ BoBo, is also one of the many musicians who covered the original Elvis Presley song Viva Las Vegas. Peter René Baumann, better known as DJ BoBo brought the classic song closer to a modern audience, and made it, well – more autotune-friendly. The Swiss musician became famous for his fast-paced Eurodance-style sound with female vocals and rap verses and his work is well received in Europe (primarily in Germany and Switzerland), Asia and South America.
Viva Las Vegas by Dj BoBo also has a music video in which he sings while he’s riding in a convertible down the Strip, hanging out in a dressing room with energetic dancers and by the end he performs on stage with the gorgeous showgirls.
Dean Martin – I Love Vegas
The Las Vegas stage was Dean Martin’s second home. This celebrated performer had both a successful solo career and notable appearances with the Rat Pack, and he was known for his smooth and effortless style. Being a slick, self-assured entertainer, Martin was nicknamed “The King of Cool” by none other than Elvis himself. The image of Dean in a tuxedo doing some sort of comedy or singing made for one of the most popular acts in Las Vegas for three whole decades. With the Rat Pack he also performed almost exclusively on the Las Vegas Strip. When Martin died in at the age of 78 on Christmas Day in 1995, the lights of the Las Vegas Strip were dimmed in his honour.
He, on the other hand, expressed his love for Vegas in a smooth, sincere song called simply I Love Vegas. In it, he sings:
“I love Vegas when I’m winning,
Mmmmmm, I love it when I lose.
I love Vegas, like the army loves its manuals.
I love Vegas, like Sinatra loves Jack Daniels.
I, I love Vegas every moment.”
Sheryl Crow – Leaving Las Vegas
Leaving Las Vegas hit the charts in 1994; it was featured on Sheryl Crow’s debut album Tuesday Night Music Club. The song was written by David Baerwald and the title of the song came from a book by the late John O’Brien, a friend of Baerwald’s. The pop/rock/folk musician stated that the song was autobiographical which did not sit well with Tuesday Night Music Club members, especially David. The lyrics can be tied to Crow’s life, as she did leave a small Missouri town to make it in L.A. One way or the other, the song has an uplifting effect despite touching on the themes of alcoholism, disillusion and loss. In a way, the “leaving” can be interpreted as a new beginning.
Various Vegas-related images can be seen in the promotional video for the song. The video showcases croupiers, dancers and Elvis Presley impersonators walking down a highway through a desert. These scenes intertwine with sequences of Crow performing the song with her guitar in the dark, with only some parts of her face lit up.
A combination of a good musical background, larger-than-life experiences, stunning visual impressions and good fortune could amount to the best time in one’s life, so remember to put on one of these tunes in your car as you’re driving out of the desert and past the famous “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign.