The use of symbolism in music videos provides an extra layer of meaning that can either mesh perfectly with the lyrics or take the viewer in a completely new direction. An example of how this symbolism can work is seen in the following videos below, where casinos are used to add greater impact to the video.
“I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” – U2
Going back to 1987, this was the second single to be released from U2’s massive album, The Joshua Tree. Arguably the Irish group’s finest moment, “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” is a tale of spiritual yearning built on an unusual drum pattern, so where does the casino imagery in the video come from?
It’s easy to overlook the way that casinos have changed since then. These days, we can play blackjack live dealer games on sites like Paddy Power. Here, we can find various different versions of the card game, where unique presentations and rules are used to add variety. Crucially, we can play here at any time of day or night, making the casino experience more convenient than ever. The option of playing with real money or just for fun opens it up to far more players than was ever the case before.
Yet, in 1987, this approach didn’t exist and Las Vegas was still the center of the casino world. Therefore, this video could be looked upon as the band triumphantly “arriving,” as it coincided with them reaching incredible levels of fame and popularity. The initial monochrome images of a sullen Bono switch to color scenes with happy, smiling fans that don’t really tie in with the song’s lyrics but make more sense as a glimpse at the band’s rocketing popularity.
“Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino” – Arctic Monkeys
As part of an ambitious concept album based on science fiction and drawing from a diverse range of influences, the video for this Arctic Monkeys song was filmed in Reno but the idea is that the singer is in a luxury resort on the Moon. Released in 2018, the band’s Alex Turner said that the song is the closest thing to a love song on the album.
In this case, the song is about the way that we use modern technology in our lives and it appears that instead of making life better, technology has pushed the main character further away from other people. Perhaps the main reason for using a casino here was for the luxury aspect associated with these resorts, but it’s worth noting that this song was released at a time when the automation of Las Vegas casinos was a hot subject, with self-service check-in and robot dealers among the areas being debated.
“On My Mind” – Ellie Goulding
Part of the Delirium album, this 2015 song was well-received by fans and critics, with this review calling it “catchy” and pointing out that it has more of a conventional pop sound than we had seen from the singer in the past. Ellie described to Capital FM how the video was created with a fun Thelma and Louise type of vibe.
In the video, she rides triumphantly into Las Vegas on a horse and is later seen counting her winnings. The general idea appears to be that she uses the glamorous gambling city to get back at her former partner, eventually leaving Vegas on a horse and leaving her ex behind to regret losing her.
All of these songs benefited from videos showing casinos. While the message behind the videos isn’t always clear, it’s the type of setting that can be used to great effect and to get viewers really thinking about what the artist wants to convey.