Best Music Videos
Image: Time Extension

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 - Subdivisions
Image: Rush

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

Blue Monday
Image: New Order

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

Queen - Invisible Man
Image: Queen

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

Right Said Fred - Wonderman
Image: Right Said Fred

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.

Feeder - Tangerine

Feeder - Tangerine
Image: Feeder

An instrumental version of Feeder's second single 'Tangerine' eventually featured on the soundtrack to the US and PAL versions of Sony's Gran Turismo, but here it's the Welsh group's love of Sega that is firmly on display.

The 1997 music video for the song sees the three-piece being pelted with fruit while performing in a London squat that contains a Sega Mega-Tech System equipped with Golden Axe and After Burner. In case you've never seen a Mega-Tech system out in the wild, it was essentially an arcade machine that contained similar hardware to the Sega Mega Drive / Genesis and came with 8 pre-installed games. This one, however, we must say looks a little bit worse for wear, with a bunch of crushed food and a large rat covering the control panel.

Super Furry Animals - Play It Cool

Super Furry Animals - Play It Cool
Image: Super Furry Animals

In 1997, Super Furry Animals teamed up with Gremlin Interactive for the music video for their latest single ‘Play It Cool’. The video sees the lead singer Gruff Rhys dreaming of playing Actua Soccer 2 with the rest of the group, before entering into the TV screen and joining the Welsh national team as they get one over on the Brazilians. It’s brilliantly odd and ended up netting the band a cameo in the finished game.

In an interview with FourFourTwo, the singer Rhys explained the story behind the video: "We decided that we wanted to get digitised into the music video. I don't know what happened but somehow we were in touch with Actua Soccer, who said they could create little footballers out of the band members for our music video. At first we assumed it would be for the video only, but then they asked if we just wanted to have our own team in the game. That wasn't a hard decision! [But] there wasn't enough of us for a team so they asked us to send them the names of some of our heroes to fill the squad with. We sent a bunch of names over but the email must have got lost or deleted or something. They ended up just using some random historical figures instead. So we were eventually lining up alongside Gandhi and Elvis."

Wintergreen - When I Wake Up

Wintergreen - When I Wake Up
Image: Wintergreen

Back in 2006, the band Wintergreen paid tribute to one of the biggest urban legends in video game history with the music video to its single “When I Wake Up”.

The video, directed by Keith Schofield, sees the Los Angeles alt-rock group playing Howard Scott Warshaw’s infamous adaptation of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial for the Atari 2600 before venturing out into the Alamogordo landfill with shovels.

Their aim is obviously to find the legendary lost copies of the game that Atari was rumoured to have dumped back in 1983 following the title’s commercial failure, and, unsurprisingly, within seconds of entering the dump, the band manages to hit the mother load, excavating enough copies of the game to construct a rather impressive pile.

The video is of course 100% staged, but is still a ton of fun for those familiar with the E.T. story. Eight years later, a film crew would repeat the same stunt, but for real, for the documentary Atari: Game Over, finally uncovering the true story behind E.T.’s burial. In the finished documentary, Wintergreen's video is very briefly seen on screen, acknowledging the band's small part in amplifying the legend.


Image: PUP

Out of all the entries on the list, the Canadian group PUP's 2016 video for DVP is undoubtedly the one packed with the most references. It is essentially one long lyric video set to various clips from retro games such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Super Mario Bros. 3, Mega Man, Castlevania, Toejam & Earl in Panic on Funkotron, Punch Out!!, and many many more.

Speaking to PromoNews about the concept for the video, the director Jerry Schaulin-Rioux said: "PUP wanted a quick and dirty lyric video for DVP, the first song off their upcoming album so we put together this lyrical mash-up of all our old favourite 90's video games. It's good to corrupt the things that corrupted us in the first place!"

The video won praise from a number of music publications, with the NME’s Mark Beaumont saying: “For gamers of a certain age, the new video for PUP's alcoholic's punk anthem 'DVP' is like watching your youth squandered on video games flash before your eyes.” If that's not a ringing endorsement, we don't know what is.

Nine Inch Nails - Less Than

Nine Inch Nails - Less Than
Image: Nine Inch Nails

In 2017, the legendary British game developer Jeff Minter and the world-famous rock band Nine Inch Nails joined forces to create the music video to the group’s latest single, 'Less Than'.

The video featured a woman playing a custom-made version of Minter’s recently-released PlayStation 4 game Polybius that contained the song's lyrics and was inspired by the famous urban legend about a government-made arcade machine that allegedly had the power to brainwash its players.

As the video progresses, we see extreme close-ups of the game as well as the person playing, with the woman’s eyes gradually glazing over as the video game takes hold. For Minter fans, it’s cool to see the developer get some much-deserved attention outside of games, while Nine Inch Nails supporters are treated to some gorgeous psychedelic visuals.

Kamasi Washington - Street Fighter Mas

Kamasi Washington - Street Fighter Mas
Image: Kamasi Washington

According to a statement released alongside the video, the American Jazz musician Kamasi Washington was inspired to write the 2018 single 'Street Fighter Mas' because of his experiences as a kid going to his local Rexall arcade to play Street Fighter.

As he explained: "I was really good at Street Fighter, so where the song really came from was me jokingly saying I was going to have my own theme song so that when I showed up to play Street Fighter they’d play my theme song before I came in, like a boxer. In the context of the album, it was the connection that we got with those guys in our neighborhood. We used to call them OGs, the older guys that we looked up to."

The video for the song, directed by AG Rojas, sees the professional gamer ComboFiend (real name Peter Rosas) destroying a bunch of competitors at Super Street Fighter II Turbo, before Washington enters the venue and bests the champion. It's trippy, atmospheric, and above all, doesn't take itself that seriously!