Touring Las Vegas, one music video at a time

Katy Perry in a scene from her music video for “Waking Up in Vegas.”
Photo: Frank Micelotta/Picture Group

Flo Rida and Teairra Mari “caused a scene” inside Rain this past Tuesday, Dre, Fiddy and Slim played around with Maloof last Sunday and Katy Perry woke up in a Fantasy Tower Sky Villa back in March.

But way before the Palms got so popular, Las Vegas was the location of choice for many a music video. The City of Lights—oh yeah, that’s Paris—The Neon City—damn, that’s Shanghai—Sin City has provided a dynamite backdrop for many a rock star, rapper and pop princess.

Majestic desert expanses, iconic casino facades, the rainbow neon of Fremont and aerial shots of the glittering Strip show up again and again in music videos. Limos and convertibles cruising the Boulevard, feathery showgirls, dim-lit hotel rooms, dice, cards, cash, expensive alcohol and beautiful women in dusky nightclubs—you don’t need much more than that.

Whether they are rap or rock, debuted in ’09 or ’87, by Bono or Federline, they all have at least one of these ingredients. Mix them all together and you get the riveting, spellbinding power of Vegas, which can almost make up for two star music, low I.Q. lyrics and the fact that, excepting Perry’s catchy-like-an-unwanted-cold latest, most of the songs shot in our city have nothing to do with Vegas.

But that doesn’t mean we don’t love a gratuitous Vegas cameo. So, Weekly has compiled a by-no-means complete list of a few of our favorite locally-shot videos, ranked in descending order of creativity with total disregard for actual musical quality and personal preferences for say, the Goo Goo Dolls over Katy Perry.

We predict that this analysis will positively impact your life, be archived for the edification of future generations and get virally blasted forth into the world at record-setting speeds.

1) “We Made You” by Eminem, Dr. Dre and 50 Cent

Release Date: April 7, 2009

Location: Caesars Palace and The Palms

Guest Appearances: George Maloof as a blackjack dealer and impersonators of Jessica Simpson, Tony Romo, Lindsey Lohan, Sam Ronson, the Star Trek Crew, Britney Spears, Sarah Palin, Jessica Alba, Brett Michaels, Amy Winehouse, Blake Fielder-Civil, Ellen Degeneres, Portia DeRossi, Jenifer Aniston and Kim Kardashian

Highlights: Sarah Palin provocatively reclining on a desk surrounded by a bear, Eskimo and lusty bare-chested mountain man. Eminem as prettified rock star Brett Michaels. Dancing prison inmates. The line “But Lindsay please come back to seeing men. Samantha’s a two; You're practically a 10.” Vegas’ own George Maloof dealing the cards in his own casino, where the three artists recently recorded.

Eminem - We Made You - from

2) “Waking Up in Vegas” by Katy Perry

Film Date: March 2009

Release Date: April 21, 2009

Director: Joseph Kahn

Location: Valet at the Palms Resort and Sky Villa in the Fantasy Tower

Guest Appearances: Joel David Moore

Highlights: The video has yet to be released, but judging from the promo shots, Perry’s colorful, figure-flattering costumes and a scene in a phone booth with Moore and a flurry of dollar bills should be worth watching. And the cliché lyrics that still and will forever more ring so true

Katy Perry - Waking Up In Vegas - from

3) “I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For” by U2

Film Date: 1987

Director: Barry Devlin

Location: Fremont Street, mainly in front of the Coin Castle Casino and the Four Queens Casino

Highlights: Although made on a diminutive budget, it was nominated for MTV Awards in five categories. Bono does nothing more than wander around Fremont and interact with strangers, but his powerful personality, the monumental music and the profound, visceral way the lyrics encapsulate the Vegas experience, was enough to earn it almost five million hits and five stars on YouTube.

U2 - from

4) “Stay in Love” by Mariah Carey

Director: Nick Cannon

Filmed: October 5-6 2008

Released: October 28, 2008

Location: Nevada desert, The Bank at the Bellagio

Highlights: Entirely filmed in black and white, Mariah’s lip-gloss, skin and the Bellagio water fountains glow with the muted, beautiful sheen of alabaster. The tale of clinging to an unfaithful lover is familiar and poignant ,and Carey, as a showgirl and betrayed lover, expresses the human, heartbreaking emotions with the skill—and looks—of a Hollywood ingénue.

Stay in Love - from

5) “Sympathy” by Goo Goo Dolls

Release Date: 2002

Location: Click here for details.

Highlights: An interesting concept in which lead singer John Rzeznik rides in a taxi with random tourists, including an Elvis impersonator and a showgirl. Rzeznick portrays the loneliness that many undoubtedly feel while immersed in a sea of strangers in a city of transition and transience. And the Strip skyline rising out of the desert, especially the Excalibur and the Luxor, is spectacular.

Sympathy - from

6) “Lollipop” by Lil Wayne

Director: Gil Green

Release Date: March 12, 2008

Location: Gavin Maloof’s residence in the Southern Highlands Golf Club

Highlights: Admittedly, it's one more example of an overdone formula, but it’s still a sweet treat like, say, a lollipop. Wayne primps, plays guitar on top of a Hummer limo, parties, acts the pimp, two-steps and licks a lollipop with serious panache.

Lollipop - from

7) “Cause a Scene” by Flo Rida and Teairra Mari

Film Date: April 7, 2009

Release Date: In a few weeks

Location: Rain at the Palms

Highlights: We haven’t seen it yet, but Weekly reporters were at the local shoot this week where Mari and Rida rocked covetable duds and played up their nightclub setting with various backdrops.

Making A Scene

8) “Lose Control” by Kevin Federline

Film Date: July 29, 2006

Release Date: September 1, 2006

Location: Pure in Caesars Palace

Guest Appearance: DJ AM

Highlights: As far as I know, this is K-Fed’s only music video from his only album. Thank goodness. Federline is obviously a Vegas clubbing pro thanks in part to his ex and in part to the fact that even pseudo-celebs like K-Fed get the VIP treatment in our area code. Filmed entirely at Pure, this is actually the most accurate video yet, showing the insane entrance line, black-suited bouncers letting in groups of girls while turning away men and a claustrophobically crowded club complete with overdressed drinkers and break dancing circles. Of course, the fedora-sporting K-Fed is in like Flynn. His dancing and dice rolling are even kind of fun to watch, if you ignore the words he’s singing.

Lose Control - from

9) “Signs” by Justin Timberlake and Snoop Dogg

Film Date: 2005

Location: Body English (including the coed bathroom), Binion’s

Guest Appearances: Charles Wilson

Highlights: JT’s crisp, jaunty moves, the girl-on-girl boxing scene and the sight of Snoop slyly rolling through Fremont in a Cadillac pimpmobile makes us want to go to Vegas. Oh wait, we’re already here.

Signs - from

10) “Everything I Wanted” by Danii Minogue

Director: Steve Shaw, Minogue’s boyfriend at the time, shot this video in black and white with a 16 mm camera and no production crew

Film Date: 1996

Location: The Golden Nugget

Highlights: Danii is not as famous as sister Kylie, but she is arguably prettier than the other Ms. Minogue with a facial structure comparable to Helen of Troy. She drives a drop-top through the desert, dives into The Tank at The Golden Nugget, lolls on a bed, roller skates in braids and dances in a little black dress. Sadly, good looks aren’t enough to make this one worth your three or so minutes and even Vegas can’t save this video. Bo-ring.

Everything I Wanted - from


Jennifer Grafiada

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