It only takes a few minutes to realise how much the world of casino games has influenced and continues to influence popular culture: from literature, as seen in the famous novel “The Gambler” by Fyodor Dostoevsky, to cinema, as seen in the equally famous film Casino Royale, or even in music. Several songs contain references about the gambling games best known to players or the typical situations one might encounter while challenging Lady Luck. Even though land-based gaming hall are slowly being replaced by the new online casinos in terms of popularity, the charm and flair of the games remains unaltered. You can read this guide if you want to find out more about new casinos. But which are the most famous gambling-related songs? Which situations or games do they focus on? Let’s discover some of them together.
Poker Face, Lady Gaga (2008)
Part of her debut album, The Fame, Poker Face is the song that has made Lady Gaga one of the biggest pop artists of our time. Although the value of the song has often been underestimated, the lyrics of Poker Face, as reported by Storyofsongs.com, are full of iconic images and open to multiple interpretations. According to fans, the song was written after the end of Lady Gaga’s love affair with Lüc, a gambling addict who was also a favourite of the pop star. As the lyrics say, she sings: ‘No, he can’t read my Poker Face’. It is with this phrase that the singer refers to the skill that poker players must have to hide from others whether they are bluffing or not. Similarly, Lady Gaga is said to have chosen to turn up at the club where her ex-boyfriend worked, looking strong and with an impassive face just like that of the most experienced poker players. Moreover, the song would also highlight a double side of love relationships and gambling, both made of love and fun.
Viva Las Vegas, Elvis Presley (1964)
Dedicated to the madness of the house of fun, Viva Las Vegas is a 1964 film starring the legendary Elvis Presley, who plays the role of a car racing and casino gaming enthusiast, Lucky Jackson. It is in Las Vegas that the protagonist wins a discreet sum of money that allows him to buy a motor to participate in the race. Viva Las Vegas, the film’s soundtrack, praises the splendour of the city of fun. As Elvis sings, Las Vegas is the place where “nights turn into days, days turn into nights”, the place that “if you see it once, you’ll never be the same again”. As well as praising its beauty, Elvis also dwells on what can be found in Las Vegas: as the translation of the song published on MTV states, in Las Vegas ‘there’s blackjack and poker and roulette, a fortune won and lost at every bet, all you need is a strong heart and nerves of steel’. There is no shortage of references to the glitz and glamour of casinos, such as beautiful women, flashing lights and neon.
Ace of Spades, Motorhead (1980)
Released as a single in 1980 and included on the album of the same name, Ace of Spades is considered one of the best tracks by the heavy metal band Motorhead. As fans of the band will know, the ace of spades in the song’s title has a double meaning: it symbolises the playing card, but also became the emblem of the band, who were aware of the difficulties of entering the music business. As the lyrics read, ‘gambling is for fools, but that’s the world I like, baby, and I don’t want to live forever!’. This is not only a beautiful phrase to be sung at the top of one’s voice, but also a way of life: life, in fact, should be lived without any brakes, without inhibitions, even at the risk of failure. This is the message of the song, and there is no better way to convey it than through the metaphor of gambling. One must always find the courage to take risks, regardless of possible defeats. Only in this way can you say that you have truly lived.
Roulette – Katy Perry (2017)
Roulette, a 2017 song by Katy Perry, is also related to love and has a metaphorical meaning. According to an article on Soundsblog, the link between the game of roulette and the protagonist of the song is related to the fact of being completely at the mercy of chance. In Roulette, in fact, there is talk of a hypothetical night of passion and the possibility of abandoning oneself in the arms of a lover to spend an overwhelming night, even at the cost of suffering: a bit like in a game of chance, such as roulette. The game of roulette is strongly based on luck, since its objective is to be able to predict on which square the ball will stop and bet accordingly. As in the song, no one can be sure of the outcome in advance, but choosing to play it can lead to a lot of fun and carefree play either way. By literally quoting the lyrics of Katy Perry’s song, it is clear that the protagonist wants to have fun and “lose control and forget everything, like in roulette”.
These are just four of the most famous and listened to songs inspired by gambling: few, perhaps, but enough to remind us how this world continues to fascinate singers, as well as film producers and writers.