Music videos and video games go together well. It’s a well-known fact.
Back in the days before YouTube existed, when music videos were primarily broadcast across various stations on TV, it was always a joy to spot the odd video game nestled away in the corner of a band's video. And even now, when we have everything at our fingertips, it still piques our interest to see the two worlds crossover — regardless of whether the associated song is any good or not.
That's why we've decided recently to go through as many music videos as we could to bring you a list of some of the best examples featuring video games. The list spans a variety of genres from progressive rock to novelty pop to modern jazz. It also covers everything from classic arcade games to cartridge releases to home computer software. Know of any we missed? Let us know in the comments!
Best Music Videos Featuring Video Games
Rush - Subdivisions
Rush's 1982 music video for the single 'Subdivisions' was one of the earliest examples we could find to include video games.
It was filmed around the Toronto area and features footage from a real arcade named Video Invasion (which was located on Bathurst Street in North York) inter-spliced with some video of the Canadian progressive rock band performing to camera. As a result, it's a bit of a time capsule, showing what the gaming experience was like during the golden age of the arcades. Atari's Tempest is the game that appears most prominently in the video, but retro fans will also be able to spot cabinets for Namco's Pac-Man and Taito's Alpine Ski.
New Order - Blue Monday
Released in 1983, the original music video for the New Order single ‘Blue Monday’ is a far moodier and atmospheric affair than the colourful 1988 version directed by Robert Breer and William Wegman.
The video features false colour military-themed footage, primitive computer animation, and low-quality digital images of the band, intercut with gameplay from the Apple II port of the Sega arcade game Zaxxon. Much like Rush’s Subdivisions, it’s an early example of a band acknowledging the young and evolving art form, while showcasing its potential for producing unique and interesting visuals.
Queen - Invisible Man
The music video for Queen's 1989 video 'Invisible Man' focuses on a small boy in a suspiciously British-looking American household discovering a fictional video game featuring members of the iconic band.
Almost immediately, the video shows a selection of Commodore 64 titles on the kid's bedroom shelf including Double Take, Nightmare Rally, Blaster Master, Star Wars, and Legions of Death. There are also posters on the wall for other C64 games like Renegade and Xeno. Though, oddly there's not a single Commodore 64 computer in sight, with the kid instead zapping away at Freddie Mercury and Co. on what appears to be a Deltagold Elite.
It's gloriously '80s and has Brian May shooting laser beams from his guitar. What's not to love?
Right Said Fred - Wonderman
Sonic the Hedgehog and Right Said Fred are two things we never really expected to go together, but that's exactly what happened in 1994 when Sega of Europe partnered with the novelty pop duo to release the single Wonderman into the world, in order to promote the launch of Sonic the Hedgehog 3.
The video for the song features plenty of references to the blue hedgehog, as well as footage of the game itself. It also sees an appearance from Steven O’Donnell, known for his appearance as Spudgun in Bottom as well as his various appearances in the Sega Pirate TV advertising campaign. It's camp '90s fun. Just don't look up any of the nonsense the band is spewing nowadays.