Lana Del Rey’s much-hyped Born to Die album, featuring the hit single “Video Games,” just came out. We didn’t really like it. Unfortunately for us nerds, legit songs about video games are few and far between, especially if you want them to be, well, good. But we scoured the Internet for a few tunes inspired by our favorite digital past-time that haven’t ruined a perfectly fine episode of Saturday Night Live.
Bucker & Garcia—”Pac-Man Fever“
The king of video game novelty songs is this 1982 number, which actually hit #9 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. People in the ’80s were silly, right?? There’s no real substance to this tune, but it’s goofy fun chock full of corny rock clichés. Hey, you guys, “Blinky’s out of sight!”
DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince—”Human Video Game“
Speaking of the ’80s, man, those were simpler times. Back then, a friendly track like this passed for hip hop. Here, Will Smith—yes THE Will Smith—laments all the money he wastes playing Donkey Kong in the arcade… that is, until he finds beatboxer Ready Rock C, who can recreate the game’s theme song with his mouth, thus saving Will from losing any more quarters. Man, this song is great. (Bonus: enjoy the fact that in 1988, rappers bragged about carrying around TEN DOLLAR BILLS.)
Eiffel 65—”My Console“
Moving up a decade, this Italian dance group (best known for the international smash hit “Blue”) released a tribute to Sony’s Playstation in 1999. Most of the lyrics are just lists of popular Playstation games. In case, you know, you forgot.
Freezepop—”I Am Not Your Gameboy“
Here’s a group you might know through video games, specifically their connection with the Guitar Hero and Rock Band series. Before those games introduced them to a wider audience, though, these electro-pop favorites recorded this nasty love note to a bad boyfriend. “Don’t push that cartridge inside me” indeed.
Nate & His Kite—”NES <3″
And here’s a group probably no one knows. They hail from Northwest Indiana and unfortunately seem to be currently inactive. They’ve also written the legitimately greatest song that combines video games and relationships you’re likely to find, from that sweet 8-bit synth intro to the anthemic closing lines: “These games of love are just a waste of time. / You always take all of my extra lives.”
It’s tough to talk about video game music without bringing up nerdcore singer/songwriter Jonathan Coulton, whose “Still Alive” is synonymous with the Portal franchise.
The Pac-Man game inspired a longer-lasting novelty singer, Weird Al Yankovic, to write his own tribute, this one based on the Beatles’ “Tax Man.” The song was never officially released.
Predating video games by several decades, pinball used to be the king of arcade amusement, and the Who famously wrote an incredibly rockin’ ode to the game for their 1969 opera Tommy.