Bright lights, Sin City make for ultimate music videos

Katy Perry films her music video for "Waking Up in Vegas" on Fremont Street.

Katy Perry films her music video for "Waking Up in Vegas" on Fremont Street.

Las Vegas is a visually striking place so it comes as no surprise that the city has been used as the setting for countless music videos.

According to Charlie Geocaris, director of the Nevada Film Office, there were 16 music videos filmed in Las Vegas in the past year alone.

“It’s such a fun city and the neon, nightlife and casinos all add a great backdrop for music videos,” he said.

The town is also filled with iconic images that people all over the world recognize, from showgirls to the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign, to cars cruising down the world famous Las Vegas Strip.

And when artists want to invoke a party atmosphere in their videos, what better place to film than in Sin City, the party capital of the world?

Geocaris said the most popular locations in town for video shoots are the Fremont Street Experience, the Strip, nightclubs and interiors of casinos.

All of the exposure the city has received in music videos over the years definitely helps give tourism in the city a boost, Geocaris said.

“Having Las Vegas on the small or big screen is free advertising and helps attract tourists to the state,” he said. “Feature films, TV series and music videos are viewed by worldwide audiences and they last for decades. We still get calls about locations used in the 1964 film “Viva Las Vegas.”

Coincidentally, a cover of the title song from “Viva Las Vegas” is one of our picks for the Top 10 music videos that have used Las Vegas as a setting. Here are our choices (in no particular order):

ZZ Top – “Viva Las Vegas”

In this video, ZZ Top covers the Doc Pomus/Mort Shuman-penned hit made famous by Elvis Presley. The video wouldn’t be complete without paying homage to Elvis – a ghostly apparition of the King appears throughout. Besides Elvis, the video is a tribute to all things Vegas, packed with shots of neon signs, a visit to a wedding chapel, casino, pawn shop and the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign. The band cavorts on stage with showgirls and there’s plenty of cruising down pre-canopy Fremont Street in a convertible. This video also has a nostalgic scene filmed at the historic and now defunct Glass Pool Inn, famous for its swimming pool with porthole windows.

Mase – “Feel So Good”

This song is about living the high life and even though the lyrics don’t mention Vegas specifically, what better location to shoot a video celebrating excess? In this flashy video, Mase and friends cruise down Fremont Street throwing cash out of a car. Most of the video features Mase dancing outside of Binion’s Horseshoe casino and a troupe of hip-hop dancers performing in front of the Plaza Hotel, complete with pyrotechnics. There are also some interior casino shots and an appearance by Diddy, who is featured on the song.

U2 – “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”

Click here to see this video on YouTube.

This classic video was filmed in 1987 after the band’s Joshua Tree tour stop in Las Vegas. The premise is pretty simple. Bono and the boys wander around Fremont Street interacting with willing tourists. Much of the video is filmed outside the Coin Castle and near the Golden Nugget. You’ll notice plenty of changes between then and now when you watch this vintage video. Bono and The Edge have both lost their long locks and Fremont Street has gained the Fremont Street Experience canopy – in the video you can still see cars driving on the street.

Sheryl Crow – “Leaving Las Vegas”

This song may be about leaving Sin City behind, but the video uses plenty of Vegas-centric imagery. Crow sings and plays guitar along a lonely stretch of desert highway accompanied by acrobatic Elvi flying through the air, showgirls strutting down the road and dancing blackjack dealers.

Cee Lo Green–“I Want You (Hold on to Love)”

Cee Lo Green plays the character “Loberace” in this video, which begins with him in a decadent suite at Caesars Palace, complete with a candelabra, piano, a feathered suit and a Liberace painting in the background. After walking through the casino accompanied by Caesars Palace’s famous Roman centurions, he heads out to the pool to dance with showgirls from “Jubilee!”

Katy Perry – “Waking Up in Vegas”


Perry’s song is all about the perils of partying in Sin City so Vegas was the obvious choice for a location to film the video. It was shot partially at the Palms and in one of the Sky Villas in the Palms’ Fantasy Tower. The video, all about winning big and losing big, starts out with Perry and her boyfriend who are down to their last quarter. They hit the jackpot and start living the high life, even taking over Penn & Teller’s hotel suite. They go on a huge winning streak only for their luck to turn around as they lose everything. Penn & Teller get their suite back and Perry is reduced to stealing food from a used room service tray in the hall.

Rascal Flatts – “Why Wait”

This video spoofs the hit movie “The Hangover “ and stars David Arquette as a man telling his girlfriend he can’t remember what he did on his trip to Vegas. The ensuing flashback of his trip is filled with appearances by Vegas celebrities including Penn & Teller playing blackjack, Wayne Newton playing craps, Carrot Top in a hot tub filled with bubbles, comedian Ron White working in a wedding chapel and Rick Harrison, owner of the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop seen on “ Pawn Stars.” Arquette’s character goes to the pawn shop to buy an engagement ring and he ends up marrying his girlfriend in a Vegas wedding chapel.

Lil Wayne – “Lollipop”

Lil Wayne’s video was partially filmed at Palms co-owner Gavin Maloof’s Southern Highlands home. Lil Wayne starts out at the house putting his bling on to get ready to go out. An oversized party limo filled with beautiful women pulls up and takes him on a cruise down the Strip and gambling at the Palms where Maloof makes a quick cameo. Lil Wayne dances on the roof of the limo so there are plenty of unobstructed views of the Strip passing by throughout the video.

Mariah Carey – “I Stay in Love”

Mariah Carey stars as a jilted showgirl in this cinematic black and white video directed by her husband Nick Cannon. The Bellagio fountains are featured prominently and much of the video was filmed at The Bank nightclub inside the hotel. Other scenes were shot in a desert location outside of town.

Goo Goo Dolls – “Sympathy”

Click here to see this video on YouTube.

The plot of this video is pretty straightforward. It begins with singer John Rzeznik playing guitar next to a taxi in an empty lot with the Strip in the background. The rest of the video features him and other band members riding in the taxi with random tourists, including an Elvis impersonator and a showgirl.

Honorable mention – The Killers – “All These Things That I’ve Done”

We had to include a hometown band, The Killers, for their video “All These Things That I’ve Done.” It gets Vegas cool points for filming scenes in The Neon Boneyard, Las Vegas desert and a trailer park in the shadow of the Stratosphere Tower, all in the style of filmmaker Russ Meyer.


It’s not that warm in Minnesota. I know this from spending half my life freezing in the northern part of the state. So 20 years ago, I decided to thaw out and traded in scarves and mittens for tank tops and flip-flops (Take that, polar vortex!). I swapped snow for 300 days of sun a year. I may not have been born here, but there are hotels that haven’t lasted in Vegas as long as I have. The Sands, Hacienda, Aladdin, Desert Inn and the Stardust too. I've been to my fair share of implosion parties. (Yeah, that’s a thing.) As a writer for, I've applauded hundreds of shows, explored every major hotel in town and raised a few glasses at most of the city's bars and clubs. Now I'm the resident foodie here. I write about all things dining — from $3.99 shrimp cocktail at the Golden Gate to the finest sushi at Nobu, and everything in between.