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"Video Games" is a song written by Lana Del Rey and Justin Parker and produced by Robopop in 2011. Taken from Del Rey's first major-label album Born to Die, the song served as the album's first and lead single worldwide and is credited for the launch of Del Rey's international success. The song was officially released as a single on October 7, 2011, as her debut single.

Contents

Writing and inspiration[]

The song was written by Lana Del Rey and Justin Parker in the same sessions as "Blue Jeans" during the summer of 2010. It was written about how Del Rey watched her then-boyfriend play video games. In an interview for British online magazine The Quietus, Del Rey stated that the inspiration for the song came from her ex-boyfriend, commenting, "I think we came together because we were both outsiders. It was perfect. But I think with that contentment also comes sadness. There was something heavenly about that life – we'd go to work and he'd play his video games – but also it was maybe too regular.[1] "She has stated that it is a statement about her putting her musical career on hold for him. When creating the song, Del Rey had no plans for it to be released as a single, as she assumed it would struggle to gain traction.

Josh Kemp, one of Del Rey's supposed ex-boyfriends is said to have the been the inspiration behind the song as rumored for years. He seemingly alluded to the fact that it was his obsession with World of Warcraft that led to the writing of the song. On Instagram he shared a live recording of Del Rey performing the track and commented, “When your World of Warcraft addiction turns from self deprecating, anti-social depression into iconic and legendary... embrace your darkness...you never know who’s watching.”[2] Del Rey has also mentioned that all the men in her life have been consumed by World of Warcraft in a 2012 interview with MTV Buzzworthy.[3]

About the songwriting, Del Rey on 2011 told Dazed Digital:

"The verse was about the way things were with one person, and the chorus was the way that I wished things had really been with another person, who I thought about for a long time. That was what happened, you know? He’d come home and I’d see him. But then the chorus wasn’t like that. That was the way that I wished it was – the melody sounds so compelling and heavenly because I wanted it to be that way. The verse is more matter-of-fact because that’s how it was. It’s a mix of memories and the way I wished it could have been".

Composition[]

Musically, "Video Games" is an down-tempo ballad song with highly orchestrated instrumentation. It is composed in the key of F♯ minor, and is in common time with a tempo of around 60 beats per minute. Instrumentally, the song features pizzicato strings, swathing strings, harps, and violins. The song lacks any major percussion instruments, but does feature minor thumping in the latter half. Del Rey's vocals range from E3 to A4, and the song showcases her using a lower vocal range than she had used previously. The crescendos, as well as feathery backing vocals create a subdued and haunting atmosphere that was praised by critics. Both official (wet one) and dry (with unaltered vocals) a cappellas were leaked on July 30, 2018.

Critical reception[]

"Video Games" was met with critical acclaim from music critics. Following the release of the single, Ian Cohen dubbed the song "Best New Music" on Pitchfork Mediacommenting, "on her stirring debut single, New York singer-songwriter Lizzy Grant transforms into the more bombastically named Lana Del Rey and absolutely wallows in it."[4] Digital Spy writer Robert Copsey noted Del Rey "combines a near-identical [Nancy Sinatra] vocal with her own fascination for the tragically glamorous — or 'Hollywood sadcore' as she succinctly labels it."[5] Lewis Corner, also of Digital Spy, said, "New York-born, London-based Lana Del Rey is currently working on her debut album, but if this newly released preview track/video is anything to go by, it's going to be avant-garde pop at its very best."[6] Alexis Petridis of The Guardian considered "Video Games" the best song of 2011 and added, "it's tempting to say with a song that good it doesn't matter who sings it, but that's not strictly true. As pop divas who collaborate with Eg White go, Lana Del Rey sounds hugely understated."[7]

In a poll performed by NME, readers ranked it as the tenth best song of the year.[8] Maura Johnston of The Village Voice, however, called the song and the accompanying music video overproduced,[9] while New York magazine contributor Amanda Dobbis commented that "it's hard to totally separate Del Rey's looks from the criticism that's been bubbling around her."[10] In responses to this controversy, Paste '​s Luke Larson said, "when 'Video Games' first hit the web, people weren’t freaking out about Lana Del Rey or fake lips or Lizzy Grant. People were freaking out because they had stumbled upon a fresh voice and a beautifully written song and ultimately, does the rest really matter?"[11] Krystina Nellis of Drowned in Sound said the single reminded her of something from a David Lynch movie.[12]

The Village Voice '​s Pazz & Jop annual critics' poll ranked "Video Games" at number seven to find the best music of 2011, tied with Britney Spears's "Till the World Ends". The British magazine NME named "Video Games" the best single of 2011. In 2018, "Video Games" was listed as #13 on National Public Radio's '200 Greatest Songs by 21st Century Women' list.[13] Pitchfork placed "Video Games" at #9 on their '200 Best Songs of the 2010s' list in 2019.[14] "Video Games" also won 'Song of the Decade' award at the 2019 Q Awards.

Use in media[]

  • The song was used in an episode of the CW show, Ringer, "If You Ever Want a French Lesson...". It is often highlighted as a proponent to the launch of Del Rey's career.
  • A remixed version of the song in the 666 Park Avenue episode "The Dead Don't Stay Dead."
  • The song was used in the TV show Gossip Girl episode "I Am Number Nine" (Season 5, Episode 6).
  • The song was sung by Neil Patrick Harris, Snoop Dogg, Samuel L. Jackson, and Zachary Levi in a commercial for Spike's Video Game Awards.[15]

Music video[]

Music video Information
Lana_Del_Rey_-_Video_Games Released August 19, 2011 & October 16, 2011
Length 4:46
Director Lana Del Rey
Producer Lana Del Rey
Filmed February, 2011
Location Unknown
Vevo views 276+ Million views
Music video Information
Lana_Del_Rey_-_Video_Games_(original_version) Released July, 2011
Length 4:52
Director Lana Del Rey
Producer Lana Del Rey
Filmed February, 2011
Location Unknown
Vevo views N/A
Music video Information
Video_Games_(Original_Version_2) Released July, 2011
Length 4:52
Director Lana Del Rey
Producer Lana Del Rey
Filmed February, 2011
Location Unknown
Vevo views N/A

Background[]

After recording videos for the tracks from Lana Del Ray in the same style, Del Rey continued by recording this one and interlacing clips of her with old films, cartoons, paparazzi footage, and nature clips to create the video. The first two original videos, released in July of 2011, were removed and reformatted using some new clips once Del Rey was signed to Stranger, due to copyright issues. Del Rey posted the video on her personal YouTube channel on August 19, 2011, and it was posted to her Vevo channel on October 16, 2011.

Description[]

The video shows Del Rey, with her hair in a similar style to that of Jackie Kennedy, wearing a white top and a yellow & black shirt, and shows her with various colorizations added to her shots. The clips in the video show San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, amongst others, as well as specific shots of the Chateau Marmont and various billboards around L.A. A prominent scene featured throughout the video is that of an intoxicated Paz De La Huerta, an actress, stumbling. Many scenes of a man and woman on a moped, dancing, kissing, and jumping in a pool are a main focus of the video. The original video also included many shots of cartoons and orchestras, but these were removed in the final edition.

Cross-references[]

Official versions[]

  • Album version — 4:42
    • Instrumental version — 4:45
    • A cappella version — 4:45
    • Dry a cappella version — 4:26
  • Remastered version — 4:41
  • Unmastered version — 4:06
  • Radio edit — 4:01
  • Demo version — 3:55
  • Music video version — 4:46
  • Unmastered demo version — 4:32
  • DJ version — 5:12[16]
  • Paradise Tour version — 4:41

Lyrics[]

Album version[]

Swinging in the backyard
Pull up in your fast car
Whistling my name
Open up a beer
And you say, "Get over here
And play a video game"

I'm in his favorite sundress
Watching me get undressed
Take that body downtown
I say, "You the best-est"
Lean in for a big kiss
Put his favorite perfume on

Go play a video game

It's you, it's you, it's all for you
Everything I do
I tell you all the time
Heaven is a place on Earth with you
Tell me all the things you wanna do
I heard that you like the bad girls, honey
Is that true?
It's better than I ever even knew
They say that the world was built for two
Only worth living if somebody is loving you
Baby, now you do, hmm

Singing in the old bars
Swinging with the old stars
Living for the fame
Kissing in the blue dark
Playing pool and wild darts
Video games

He holds me in his big arms
Drunk and I am seeing stars
This is all I think of
Watching all our friends fall
In and out of Old Paul's
This is my idea of fun
Playing video games

It's you, it's you, it's all for you
Everything I do
I tell you all the time
Heaven is a place on Earth with you
Tell me all the things you wanna do
I heard that you like the bad girls, honey
Is that true?
It's better than I ever even knew
They say that the world was built for two
Only worth living if somebody is loving you
Baby, now you do

(Now, now you do)
(Now you do)
(Now you do)
(Now, now you do)
(Now you do)
(Now you do)

It's you, it's you, it's all for you
Everything I do
I tell you all the time
Heaven is a place on Earth with you
Tell me all the things you wanna do
I heard that you like the bad girls honey
Is that true?
It's better than I ever even knew
They say that the world was built for two
Only worth living if somebody is loving you
Baby, now you do, hmm

(Now, now you do)
(Now you do)
(Now you do)
(Now, now you do)
(Now you do)
(Now you do)

Radio edit[]

Swinging in the backyard
Pull up in your fast car
Whistling my name
Open up a beer
And you say, "Get over here
And play a video game"

I'm in his favorite sundress
Watching me get undressed
Take that body downtown
I say, "You the best-est"
Lean in for a big kiss
Put his favorite perfume on

Go play a video game

It's you, it's you, it's all for you
Everything I do
I tell you all the time
Heaven is a place on Earth with you
Tell me all the things you wanna do
I heard that you like the bad girls honey
Is that true?
It's better than I ever even knew
They say that the world was built for two
Only worth living if somebody is loving you
Baby, now you do

Singing in the old bars
Swinging with the old stars
Living for the fame
Kissing in the blue dark
Playing pool and wild darts
And video games

He holds me in his big arms
Drunk and I am seeing stars
This is all I think of
Watching all our friends fall
In and out of Old Paul's
This is my idea of fun
Playing video games

It's you, it's you, it's all for you
Everything I do
I tell you all the time
Heaven is a place on Earth with you
Tell me all the things you wanna do
I heard that you like the bad girls honey
Is that true?
It's better than I ever even knew
They say that the world was built for two
Only worth living if somebody is loving you
Baby, now you do

(Now, now you do)
(Now you do)
(Now you do)

It's you, it's you, it's all for you
Everything I do
I tell you all the time
Heaven is a place on Earth with you
Tell me all the things you wanna do
Only worth living if somebody is loving you
Baby, now you do

(Now, now you do)
(Now you do)
(Now you do)

Demo version[]

Swinging in the backyard
Pull up in your fast car
Whistling my name
You open up a beer
And you say, "Get over here
And play my video game"

I'm in his favorite sundress
Watching me get all dressed
We gonna go downtown
I say, "You're the best, best"
Lean in for a big kiss
Put his favorite perfume on

Go play your video game

It's you, it's you, it's all for you
Everything I do
I tell you all the time
Heaven is a place on Earth with you
Tell me all the things you wanna do
I heard that you like the bad girls, honey
Is that true?
It's better than I ever even knew
They say that the world was built for two
Only worth living if somebody is loving you
And baby, now you do, mmm

Singing in the old bars
Swinging with the old stars
Living for the fame
Kissing in the blue dark
Playing pool and wild darts
Video games

He holds me in his big arms
Drunk and I am seeing stars
This is all I think of
Watching all our friends fall
In and out of Old Paul's
This is my idea of fun
Playing video games

It's you, it's you, it's all for you
Everything I do
I tell you all the time
Heaven is a place on Earth with you
Tell me all the things you wanna do
I heard that you like the bad girls, honey
Is that true?
It's better than I ever even knew
They say that the world was built for two
Only worth living if somebody is loving you
And baby, now you do

It's you, it's you, it's all for you
Everything I do
I tell you all the time
Heaven is a place on Earth with you
Tell me all the things you wanna do
I heard that you like the bad girls, honey
Is that true?
It's better than I ever even knew
They say that the world was built for two
Only worth living if somebody is loving you
And baby, now you do

Commercial release[]

Physical releases[]

United Kingdom (2783433)

(45RPM)

VG Picture Vinyl.jpeg Label: Stranger
Format: 7" picture disc vinyl in plastic sleeve
Released: 2011
Barcode: 00602527834337
Photography: Nicole Nodland
Design: Unknown
# Name Time
1. "Video Games" (Radio Edit) 4:01
2. "Blue Jeans"   3:31
Gagapedia
United States (INTR-12733-2)
VG Single.jpg Label: Stranger
Format: CD in jewel case
Released: 2011
Barcode: 602527893242
Photography: Nicole Nodland
Design: Unknown
# Name Time
1. "Video Games" (Radio Edit) 4:01
2. "Blue Jeans"   3:31
Gagapedia
United States (INTR-12736-7)

(45RPM)

VG Vinyl.jpg Label: Polydor, Interscope
Format: 7" vinyl in cardsleeve
Released: TBA
Barcode: TBA
Photography: Nicole Nodland
Design: Unknown
# Name Time
1. "Video Games" (Joy Orbison Remix) 5:01
2. "Blue Jeans" (Odd Future's The Internet Remix) 4:00
Gagapedia

Digital releases[]

Video Games Remixes - EP
VG Remixes EP.jpg Label: Polydor, Interscope
Format: Digital download
Released: February 28, 2012
Barcode: None
Photography: Nicole Nodland
Design: Unknown
# Name Time
1. "Video Games" (Club Clique for The Bad Girls Remix) 4:57
2. "Video Games" (Jakwob and Etherwood Remix) 3:42
3. "Video Games" (White Lies C-Mix) 7:32
4. "Video Games" (Jamie Woon Remix) 5:14
5. "Video Games" (We Don't Belong In Pacha Remix) 5:19
Gagapedia

Official remixes[]

  • Adrian Lux & Blende Remix — 6:03[17]
  • Adrian Lux & Blende Remix Radio Edit — 2:42[18]
  • Bassflow Remake — 3:53[19]
  • Club Clique For The Bad Girls Remix — 5:00
  • Helium Robots Remix — 4:52
  • Jakwob & Etherwood Remix — 3:43
  • Jamie Woon Remix — 5:14
  • Joy Orbison Remix — 5:01
  • Larry "Mr. Fingers" Heard Remix — 9:01
  • Larry "Mr. Fingers" Heard Edit — 9:00
  • Omid 16B Remix — 5:14
  • Omid 16B Radio Edit — 4:07
  • Omid 16B Instrumental Mix — 5:08
  • Omid 16B Instrumental Reprise — 2:35
  • Rainer Weichhold & Nick Olivetti Clubmix — 7:42
  • We Don't Belong In Pancha Remix — 5:20
  • White Lies C-Mix — 7:34

Promotional releases[]

Video Games / Blue Jeans CD by Vertigo in Germany, Switzerland & Austria[]

Video Games / Blue Jeans CD by Interscope Records in US[]

Video Games - The Remix EP CD by Vertigo in Germany, Switzerland & Austria[]

Video Games / Blue Jeans 7" Vinyl (part of The Singles compilation) by Interscope Records and Polydor in France[]

Video Games / Blue Jeans Remix 7" Vinyl by Interscope Records in USA[]

Video Games / Blue Jeans CD by Stranger Records in Europe[]

Video Games - The Remix EP 12" Vinyl by Vertigo in Germany[]

Video Games / Blue Jeans (Omid 16B Remixes) 12" Vinyl by Alola in UK[]

Video Games / Blue Jeans Picture 7" Vinyl by Stranger Records in UK, Europe & US[]

Video Games CD by Interscope Records in US[]

Video Games CD in Card Sleeve by Stranger Records in UK[]

Video Games / Blue Jeans CD by Polydor and Interscope Records in France[]

Video Games CD by Stranger Records in Netherlands[]

Video Games - Remixes CD by Stranger Records in UK[]

Video Games / Blue Jeans CD by Universal Music Group in Finland[]

Video Games CD Sampler by Stranger Records in UK[]

Credits[]

Personnel
  • Lana Del Rey — vocals, songwriting
  • Justin Parker — songwriting
  • Robopop — production, mixing
  • John Davis — mastering
Technical
  • Published by EMI / Sony ATV (ASCAP)
  • Mastered at Metropolis Mastering, London, United Kingdom

Charts[]

Weekly charts[]

Chart (2011–12) Peak
position
Australia (ARIA) 23
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40) 2
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders) 2
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Wallonia) 2
Brazil (Billboard Hot 100) 2
Brazil (Billboard Hot Pop Songs) 3
Canada (Canadian Hot 100) 72
Czech Republic (Rádio Top 100) 3
Denmark (Tracklisten) 18
Finland (Suomen virallinen lista) 14
France (SNEP) 2
Germany (Official German Charts) 1
Ireland (IRMA) 6
Italy (FIMI) 27
Luxembourg Digital Songs 1
Japan (Japan Hot 100) 21
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40) 11
Poland (Polish Airplay Top 100) 5
Portugal Digital Songs 5
Scotland (Official Charts Company) 10
Scotland (Official Charts Company) 10
Spain (PROMUSICAE) 33
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan) 56
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade) 2
UK Singles (Official Charts Company) 9
UK Indie (Official Charts Company) 1
US Billboard Hot 100 91
US Adult Alternative Songs (Billboard) 15

Year-end charts[]

Chart (2011) Position
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders) 40
France (SNEP) 60
Germany (Media Control Charts) 19
Netherlands (Mega Single Top 100) 32
Chart (2012) Position
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40) 27
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders) 15
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Wallonia) 16
France (SNEP) 7
Germany (Media Control AG) 33
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade) 23
UK Singles (Official Charts Company) 87

All-time charts[]

Chart Position
IFrance (SNEP) 38

Certifications[]

Region Certification Sales/shipments
Australia (ARIA) Platinum 70,000^
Austria (IFPI Austria) Platinum 30,000*
Belgium (BEA) Platinum 30,000*
Canada (Music Canada) Gold 40,000^
France (SNEP) Platinum 150,000*
Germany (BVMI) 3× Gold 450,000^
Italy (FIMI) Gold 15,000*
Italy (FIMI) Gold 25,000*
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland) 3× Platinum 60,000^
United Kingdom (BPI) Platinum 600,000x
United States (RIAA) Gold 500,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
xunspecified figures based on certification alone

References[]

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