Las Vegas, popularly called Sin City, is perhaps one of the greatest entertainment destinations on Earth. From live amusement at the Strip to numerous popular museums, galleries, and performing arts studios, there is no dearth of entertainment in Vegas. The city’s charm makes its way into pop culture with numerous wonderful tracks composed in Vegas’ honour over the years.
In fact, America’s fastest-growing music destination isn’t New Orleans, Austin, New York, or Nashville. It’s Las Vegas! The city wasn’t part of the pop culture a decade ago, but that is swiftly changing. With live concerts gaining popularity amidst flashy casinos and swanky hotels, the gambling enclave is no longer a musical backwater. But the city’s tryst with music isn’t millennial. And Las Vegas has numerous popular tracks dedicated to its spirit.
A Brief History of Las Vegas
Las Vegas was founded in 1905 by Mormons and it quickly became the divorce capital of the U.S by the 30s, where celebs came to annul their marriages. After the regulations of 1931, the city slowly evolved into the gambling mecca. Huge resorts and casinos quickly sprung up to host the ever-growing crowd of visitors, and the four-mile Las Vegas Boulevard eventually came to be known as The Strip.
The first musician to make an impression on Sin City was pianist Liberace, who performed at the Hotel Last Frontier in 1944. The crowd loved the gig and Liberace quickly earned a permanent spot in the city’s history, playing at the hotel’s packed theatres for the rest of his career. Liberace was the first true king of resident musicians and easily the highest-paid entertainer of his time.
While on the subject of music. Here’s our list of the ten best songs about Sin City.
Top 10 Songs Dedicated to Las Vegas
- Night Life, Elvis Presley – Perhaps one of the most iconic Elvis soundtracks, Night Life was originally composed to be used in the 1963 blockbuster Viva Las Vegas. However, the song wasn’t released until 1968 in Elvis Sings Flaming Star.
- Vegas, Sara Bareilles – A part of Bareilles’ debut album in 2007, catapulting her to the top 200 of Billboard that year, Vegas is a soulful track that is a lot more than just a sob story.
- Let’s Go to Vegas, Faith Hill – Nothing shouts country more than the 1995 Faith Circa, gyrating in a white tee-shirt and baggy blue jeans. The carefree, upbeat track was a hit favourite of the time, reaching the #5 spot on the Hot Country Song that year.
- Vegas, Clubstrophobia – The tune originally from Norway perfectly captures the Vegas spirit. The fascinating video was critically acclaimed, even earning it a Best Music Video nomination at the 2004 British Animation Awards.
- Ooh Las Vegas, Gram Parsons – A prime example of Parson’s Cosmic American genre, the tune perfectly encapsulates the dilemma of a poor man trying his fortunes at gambling. The outcome, probably one of the greatest Las Vegas songs you could ask for!
- Queen of Las Vegas, B-52 – There’s a certain wicked charm to gambling and B-52 perfectly romanticizes the feeling through a healthy dose of punchy synthesizer and drum machine. Queen of Las Vegas raised several eyebrows back in the day.
- Heaven or Las Vegas, Cocteau Twins – One of the most commercially successfully tracks from the band, despite lead singer Elizabeth Fraser’s unintelligible voice. Heaven or Las Vegas rose to the #9 position on Alternative Songs in 1991. The beauty of the track lies in its portrayal of a city isolated in the desert.
- Sin City, AC/DC – The age-old notion of all AC/DC songs sounding the same doesn’t apply to Sin City. The hit track, part of the band’s 1973 album Powerage combines Cliff Williams powerful pseudo-solo bass action with Bon Scott’s vocals.
- Viva Las Vegas, Elvis Presley – Perhaps one of Elvis’s most iconic soundtracks, Viva Las Vegas outlived the popularity of the movie with the same name. Its success far outranked the #29 position at the 1964 Hot 100.
- Luck be a Lady, Frank Sinatra – The classic 1950’s soundtrack from the musical Guys and Dolls, composed by Frank Loesser, only achieved cult status in 1964 after Frank Sinatra’s version was used in multiple revered Broadway shows.
Las Vegas and the Modern Music Industry
Live music is a major draw in Las Vegas. Resident artists and dance clubs are quickly turning Sin City into America’s live-music mecca. Historically speaking, when artists play at a single venue instead of touring, it’s a sign of a revered venue, and Las Vegas witnessed numerous such performances over the years.
The city hosted numerous celebrities and rock stars from Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra to Drake and Lady Gaga in the recent years. People like Jennifer Lopez, Celine Dion, and Britney Spears transformed Vegas’ image for the younger crowd who want to join in. Such a varied demographic is great for resident musicians.
The Historical Significance of Las Vegas
Sin City as it is commonly known throughout the world was transformed in 1966 when eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes stayed at the Desert Inn and instantly fell in love with the place. Hughes would then proceed to buy the hotel and later went on to acquire 12 more properties around town, slowly taking over what were then infamously mob-owned casinos by the 1980s.
Historically known as the home of gambling in the United States, the next two decades saw some of the most lavish, biggest resorts and casinos being built, transforming The Strip as it is commonly known today. Some notable attractions include the MGM Grand and the Bellagio. Entertainment was always the largest source of revenue for Las Vegas, and the city continues to thrive today after spending millions of dollars on revamping numerous golf courses, restaurants, resorts, and casinos. Las Vegas now attracts over 50 million people annually through tourism, notably for the attraction to the world renowned casinos situated at the heart of the city.
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