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Video games have slowly crept into the world of entertainment—and definitely into the realm of music. For decades, video game characters and even musical samples have been the subject of performing artists and their lyrical prose. But things seemed to intensify as video games went mainstream starting in the early 2000s.

Suddenly, even songstresses like Lana del Rey were talking about video games and heartthrobs in the same sentence. Del Rey was using the intense and up-and-down nature of video games to draw parallels to her love life. But the range of video game mentions in pop songs has varied quite a bit from the 2011 release of ‘Video Games’. Let’s take a closer look at the best game references in the industry, starting with the original games: casino titles.

Casino Games in Pop Songs

Though casino games receive less coverage than mainstream video games, that doesn’t mean they haven’t left their imprint on the music world. In fact, dozens of well-known songs from multiple decades make oblique and direct references to casino games. These tend to do well internationally thanks to the popularity of all types of casino games.

For example, anNZ online casino offers favorites like pokies (aka slots), blackjack, bingo, and even virtual sports. You’ve probably heard each of these games shouted out in some type of musical projects. The latest is ‘Texas Hold’em’ by Beyonce, a short country song that tugs on the US’s long standing Wild West culture.

But before Beyonce’s hit came out earlier this year, other favorites include ‘Poker Face’ by Lady Gaga and even ‘King of My Heart’ by Taylor Swift. The latter doesn’t shout-out casino games in particular, but the title draws on the King of Hearts card—one that is commonly mentioned in pop songs alongside the Queen of Hearts card. Unsurprisingly, the emphasis of the song focuses on love and risk.

Rap Music Dives Deepest

Pop songs like those mentioned above regularly shout out casino games and, increasingly, video games. But no genre has taken to supporting gaming quite like rap. In fact, there are dozens of shout-outs that bridge these twoseemingly unrelated worlds. Schoolboy Q is one of the most vocal gamers, having declared himself a fan of NRG Esports’ Valorant crew.

Schoolboy Q has appeared in Gorillaz songs that sample Pac-Man music (“Pac-Man”), shouted-out consoles like the Nintendo 64, and cult hits like GoldenEye 007 (“Hoover Street”). One of Schoolboy Q’s contemporaries, Mac Miller, was also a fan of gaming. In “Diablo”, he makes a shout-out to Mortal Kombat, claiming to take on his enemies with similar finishing moves.

Other projects take different approaches. In 2004’s “Game Over (Flip)” by Lil Flip, the song starts with a series of arcade-style soundtracks. Rather than shout out any specific video games in his lyrics, the entire song focuses on the energy of hearing that ‘Game Over’ sequence that drives players crazy.


Big Names in Video Games

Musical artists borrowing from the gaming world is becoming an increasingly common reality. But some musicians have taken an even more in-depth approach to musical production and video games.

David Bowie was one of the first to tackle game soundtracks with 1999’s Omikron: The Nomad Soul. Though the game was a critical flop, Bowie produced ten original songs for the soundtrack—which were easily the most popular element of the project. In fact, Bowie even released a few of his favorites on his next studio album.

Since then, this has become a much bigger affair. In 2009, legendary film composer Hans Zimmer worked alongside the Call of Duty team to craft its opening musical sequence. This was during the time that some of Zimmer’s best-known works were released, including original soundtracks for Inception and The Dark Knight.

More recently in 2019, EDM legend Skrillex worked with the Kingdom Hearts team alongside Japanese producer Hikaru Utada. It balanced the original soundtrack (from Utada) with anew electronic element, which was a huge hit with fans.