You know what they say: What happens in Vegas... ends up in your favorite artists’ music videos.
Everyone from Katy Perry to Lil Wayne has turned Sin City into their personal video playground, showing us all the glitz and glamour the gambling capital has to offer. This year, we saw it again in Bruno Mars’s “24K Magic,” which earned him three VMA nominations, for Best Direction, Best Art Direction, and Video of the Year.
Before the VMAs on August 27, we’re revisiting nine other bright and bold Vegas-set videos. Where does “24K Magic” rank among them on the flashiness scale? Let’s count them down.
Sam Smith - “Money on My Mind”
Smith ventured to one of the most cash-obsessed places on the planet to sing a song about prioritizing love over dollars. Somehow, it works. He strolls through the city’s grubbier (read: not very flashy) corners, insisting, “I don’t have money on my mind, money on my mind / I do it for, I do it for the love.” Too bad everyone around him has different ideas.
Calvin Harris - “Bounce” ft. Kelis
Back when Harris was just on the brink of stardom, he dropped this total earworm, which came with a vid that captures the aftermath of a breakup from a guy’s perspective. Our newly single hero hits the Strip, dances a lot, fights a little, crashes a video shoot, bonds with Elvis impersonators, flirts at nightclubs... really, everything you’d imagine an aimless night in Vegas to be like.
Snoop Dogg - “Signs” ft. Justin Timberlake and Charlie Wilson
The concept here is simple: Snoop Dogg goes to Vegas. He showers some women with wads of cash, has some drinks, and watches an underground boxing match. Justin Timberlake shows up with his ultra-slick dances moves. It’s 2004, so of course he’s wearing a fedora. It’s really your standard Vegas video — predictable but flashy nonetheless.
The Killers - “Shot at the Night”
Brandon Flowers and Co. give two lovers a shot at the night in this neon-lit love story about a young hotel maid and her once-in-a-lifetime fling. Together with her for-the-night beau (played by Max Minghella), she dances, gambles, sings karaoke, and rides a Vespa until the sun rises. What it lacks in flashiness, it makes up for with total whimsy.
Lil Wayne - “Lollipop”
Oh, yeah. You definitely remember this 2008 smash. In the vid, we see Lil Wayne and Static getting ready for a night out, and, for some reason, deciding to wear disheveled tuxes (not very flashy). Their ride awaits, and of course it’s a stretch Hummer packed with at least a dozen beautiful women (very flashy). They arrive at a nighttime pool party — where Birdman and 18-year-old Tyga make cameos — but not before Wayne breaks out an electric guitar and shreds on the roof of the moving Hummer. Such a rockstar.
Ellie Goulding - “On My Mind”
Ellie’s never looked more badass than she does in this Western-themed clip; all that side-eye cuts deep. As far as flashiness goes, Ellie rocks some very glam dresses and some kind of red feathered cape at a beauty salon. That’s all fine and good, but the real power play comes when she rides a horse (a horse!) into a casino, barges into her no-good-man’s office, takes his cash, then gallops away with her gun-toting partner-in-crime. It’s the flashiest revenge caper you’ve ever seen.
Flo Rida - “How I Feel”
Of course Flo Rida has a video where he walks around Vegas like he owns the damn place. In this 2013 clip, the party anthem master and his sharply dressed crew lord over an exclusive back room inside Planet Hollywood. “My life is so lavish, you don’t recognize,” he raps, cigar in hand, and damn it if you don’t believe him.
Mase - “Feel So Good”
Ahhh, 1997: The era of shiny suits. Mase and his Bad Boy boss Puff Daddy (as he was known then) storm Vegas in this clip, for Mase’s 1997 breakout single. Between the Kool & the Gang sample and that ultra-catchy hook, this song already has hella flash. Throw in some shots of Mase, Puffy, and Chris Tucker dancing around in aluminum suits under blinding lights, and you’ve got an awesomely snazzy vid.
Katy Perry - “Waking Up in Vegas”
Katy recently called this “one of the better videos I’ve done” and it’s easy to see why. It chronicles the highs and lows of a sleepless night in Sin City, as Katy and her man realize all those gaudy lights burn out at some point. This vid has everything: fancy cars, money, sequined pants, blow torches, a chariot, Elvis impersonators, showgirl costumes, mascara tears, and a regrettable chapel wedding. That’s what you get for waking up in Vegas.
Bruno Mars - “24K Magic”
C’mon, did you really think this wouldn’t claim the top spot?! It has all the obligatory Vegas standards: cars, cash, jets, jewels, lights, and hotels practically dipped in gold. What takes it over the top is the scene where Bruno and his gang make it rain while wearing satin pajamas and riding mobility scooters (because the weight of that bling is bad for their backs or something, I guess). And the real showstopper is when Bruno not-so-casually jet-skis in the famous Bellagio fountains. It just doesn’t get flashier than that.
Will Bruno’s flashy “24K Magic” earn him a Moon Person? Find out when the VMAs touch down at the Forum in Inglewood, California, on Sunday, August 27 at 8 p.m. ET/PT. See the full list of nominees and vote for Best New Artist now!