When you take into consideration just how popular gambling and betting are, it should come as no surprise that casino games have served as the inspiration for their fair share of films, TV shows, and songs. Ranging from folk and rock ‘n’ roll, through to country and hip-hop, plenty of superlative songs have managed to top the charts.
Let’s take a look at some of the top tracks that have managed to make their mark over the years. Just don’t blame us if they get stuck in your head!
Ray Charles was a marvellous pianist blessed with a voice that touches your soul, and these two facts alone make listening to him sing just about anything an absolute pleasure. But gamblers will have a particular fondness for the 1958 song about a player down on his luck at the Blackjack table. The song Blackjack is a good reminder that, no matter how well you may know the game, sometimes it’s just not your night.
Don Schlitz, a Nashville songwriter, wrote The Gambler in 1976. Johnny Cash and a number of other first-rate musicians went on to record the song with little success, and then Kenny Rogers covered it, making it a hit pop/country crossover song in 1979.
Rogers reflected that, although The Gambler is written specifically about betting, it’s actually about a lot more than that. He added that it came down to the song being a philosophy of life, and how to live it, and that this is what people liked about it.
Jerry Reed’s song has a refrain that tells us, When you’re hot, you’re hot/When you’re not, you’re not -another truism that gamblers will know all too well!
The song describes an unlawful craps game taking place in a back alley. The singer is enjoying a winning streak against his two friends, and then the trio is discovered by a police officer. The participants get arrested, and the cop takes all the money, ostensibly for evidence.
Nothing is more connected to the world of gambling than Las Vegas is, and Viva Las Vegas was the title song of 1964 film starring the great singer, long before he started playing there and made the gambling mecca his own. It’s one of many famous songs about Vegas, but as The King himself sings it, it deserves a spot at the top.
In the rather shamelessly star-driven plot for the film that featured the song, Presley plays a racecar driver called Lucky Jackson who falls for a character played by Ann-Margaret. Interestingly, the actress revealed in her autobiography that things hotted up between her and the iconic singer off-screen as well.
Poker Face, written by Lady Gaga and the produce RedOne, became one of the biggest-selling singles of all time when it was released in 2009. To date, it is probably the world’s most popular song about gambling, or an element of gambling, that’s ever hit the airwaves, and it immediately conjures up images of keeping a dead pan expression when you hit the tables.
The synth-pop sound and infectious, clever hook made Poker Face an instant hit, and Rolling Stone magazine eventually ranked it at No. 96 for their list of the 100 Best Songs of the 2000s.
RedOne has stated that the song initially saw some resistance from radio, because its sound was so different, but once it got an opening and radio stations started playing it, everybody was amazed by it. He said that it was an incredible feeling, and that well-known DJs who have gone on to be producers have thanked him for opening the door, because the style of music that Poker Face makes use of is not just used for remixes anymore.
There you have it! Have a listen when you next you play and see if the wonderful lyrics and clever melodies inspire you. Some of these songs try to express the joy of hitting the jackpot, and others… Well. Let’s just say that not everyone can leave a winner, but the good tunes make playing all the more fun!