Viva Las Vegas (song)

"Viva Las Vegas" is a 1964 song recorded by Elvis Presley written by Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman[1] for his film Viva Las Vegas, which along with the song was set for general release the year after. Although Elvis Presley never sang the song live, it has since become widely known and often performed by others. The RIAA certified the single disc "Viva Las Vegas/What I Said" gold on March 27, 1992 having sold 500,000 copies in the United States. [2]

"Viva Las Vegas"
Elvis Presley Viva Las Vegas Picture Sleeve.jpg
Single by Elvis Presley
B-side"What'd I Say"
ReleasedApril 28, 1964
RecordedJuly 10, 1963
StudioRadio Recorders, Hollywood, California
GenreRock and rollpop
Length2:24
LabelRCA
Songwriter(s)Doc Pomus, Mort Shuman
Elvis Presley singles chronology
"Kissin' Cousins" / "It Hurts Me"
(1964)
"Viva Las Vegas" / "What'd I Say"
(1964)
"Such a Night" / "Never Ending"
(1964)

HistoryEdit

The song was recorded on July 10, 1963. Released as a single in 1964 with the B-side "What'd I Say" from the same film, "Viva Las Vegas" charted separately from its B-side, reaching No. 29 on the Billboard Hot 100 pop singles chart.[3] The Elvis version of "What'd I Say" peaked at No. 21, the two sides having equivalent appeal in the marketplace. "Viva Las Vegas" reached No. 17 on the UK Singles Chart, improving to No. 15 after a reissue in 2007. The single reached No. 20 on the Record World chart in the U.S. and No. 14 in Canada.[4]

The song was published by Elvis Presley Music, Inc.

In the years since its first release, the song has become one of Presley's most recognized numbers. In the 1990s and 2000s, the song appeared in countless movies and TV sitcoms, either as a reference to the city of Las Vegas, or simply as an expression of joy or bewilderment in related comedic situations.

In 2002, the city of Las Vegas requested Elvis Presley Enterprises, the company that handles a portion of Elvis's legacy and all Elvis-related music rights, to allow it to be the official song of the city. Negotiations stalled over the price requested by EPE, notwithstanding that EPE had not controlled the copyright to the song since 1993, at which time it became the property of the families of the songwriters Doc Pomus[5] and Mort Shuman. Since EPE no longer owns the copyright to the song, it essentially means that EPE does not have the authority or right to negotiate the use of the song "Viva Las Vegas" within the United States, its territories and possessions, although EPE may be able to negotiate the use of the actual Elvis recording of the song.

Appearances in other mediaEdit

Cover versionsEdit

  • Punk band Dead Kennedys recorded a version of "Viva Las Vegas" on their debut album Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables (1980). The song had been a part of their live set almost since the band's inception. Their version strips the musical arrangement down to guitar, bass and drums, and uses a slightly faster tempo, yet maintains the song's melodic structure. It also features satirical lyric changes by lead singer Jello Biafra in the second and third verses, referencing a gambler using speed and cocaine in order not to "sleep a minute away". This version can also be found in Terry Gilliam's film adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998).
  • ZZ Top recorded a version of "Viva Las Vegas" as one of two new tracks on their Greatest Hits album (1992), which reached the Top 10 in both the UK (No. 10) and Ireland (No. 8).[7][8] This version appeared in a 1993 episode of Beavis and Butt-head[9] and the 1998 film The Big Lebowski. They used some sound elements from Michael Jackson's "Jam" in the track.
  • Ann-Margret, who appeared in the original film, recorded a version of the song for the 2000 film The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas (itself a reference to the original song and film) under the title "Viva Rock Vegas". Keeping with The Flintstones' stone age theme, she was credited as "Ann-Margrock".
  • The song is featured in the film The Big Lebowski (1998). Shawn Colvin performs it as a folk ballad during the closing credits. A rock version in the film is credited to a band called Big Johnson, and is styled after the ZZ Top version. The Colvin version was recorded originally for the Rhino/Forward release, Til the Night is Gone: A Tribute to Songwriter Doc Pomus (1995), and is also featured prominently in Episode 11 of Twin Peaks.
  • The Scooby-Doo movie Scooby-Doo! and the Monster of Mexico (2003) featured a variation of the song entitled "Viva Mexico", done in a Latin beat.
  • The song is a part of Bruce Springsteen's live act, and was included in The Last Temptation of Elvis, a commemorative album of renditions by singers, and rock groups, of songs made famous by Presley. Springsteen's studio version of "Viva Las Vegas" was also included in the soundtrack of the film Honeymoon in Vegas (1992), and in his compilation The Essential Bruce Springsteen (2003).
  • The Thrills performed "Viva Las Vegas" with James Burton at Elvis' induction to the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2004. The song was recorded live and later released as a B-side to The Irish Keep Gate-crashing.
  • The Dread Zeppelin version of "Viva Las Vegas" was used as the theme to the Travel Channel reality series American Casino.
  • The song was recorded for a Viagra commercial with lyrics changed to "Viva Viagra".
  • The song served as the theme tune for NBC's short-lived animation series Father of the Pride.
  • Allison Crowe and Richard Cheese perform a duet of "Viva Las Vegas" that plays throughout the title sequence of Army of the Dead, a zombie heist movie from director Zack Snyder released on May 14, 2021.

ChartsEdit

Elvis Presley's original versionEdit

Chart (1964) Peak
position
Australia 4
Belgium 12
Canada (CHUM) Hit Parade[10][4] 14
Denmark 3
Germany 21
Ireland (IRMA)[11] 8
Italy 8
New Zealand (Lever Hit Parade)[12] 4
Norway 6
Spain 16
Sweden 5
UK Singles Chart[13] 17
US Billboard Hot 100[14] 29
US Cash Box Top 100 16
US Record World 20
Chart (2007) Peak
position
UK Singles Chart[15] 15

ZZ Top coverEdit

Chart (1992) Peak
position
Australia (Kent Music Report) 28
Germany 34
Ireland (IRMA)[11] 8
Netherlands 27
New Zealand (RIANZ) 17
Sweden 7
Switzerland 20
UK Singles Chart[16] 10
US Billboard Album Rock Tracks 16

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Doc Pomus – Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 2007-06-27.
  2. ^ "Gold & Platinum". RIAA. Retrieved 2021-11-18.
  3. ^ Jorgensen, Ernst. Elvis Presley A Life in Music: The Complete Recording Sessions. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1998; pp. 182, 416
  4. ^ a b [1][dead link]
  5. ^ Halberstadt, Alex "Lonely Avenue The Unlikely Life & Times of DocPomus", 2007; DaCapo Press
  6. ^ Katsilometes, John (May 5, 2018). "Bellagio fountains cue up 'Viva Las Vegas' after Knights wins". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved May 19, 2018.
  7. ^ "viva las vegas | full Official Chart History | Official Charts Company". www.officialcharts.com. Retrieved 29 June 2020.
  8. ^ "The Irish Charts – All there is to know". irishcharts.ie. Retrieved 29 June 2020.
  9. ^ Daniels, Neil (2014). Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers: A ZZ Top Guide. Soundcheck Books. ISBN 978-0-9571442-7-9. Retrieved 29 June 2020.
  10. ^ "CHUM Hit Parade, June 22, 1964". Chumtribute.com. Retrieved 8 June 2021.
  11. ^ a b "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Viva Las Vegas". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved January 13, 2020.
  12. ^ "flavour of new zealand - search lever". Flavourofnz.co.nz. Retrieved 8 June 2021.
  13. ^ "Official Charts Company". Officialcharts.com. 1964-03-18. Retrieved 2020-01-13.
  14. ^ "Elvis Presley – Awards". AllMusic. Archived from the original on 2016-03-08. Retrieved 2016-12-30.
  15. ^ "Official Charts Company". Officialcharts.com. 2007-11-10. Retrieved 2020-01-13.
  16. ^ "Official Charts Company". Officialcharts.com. 1992-04-11. Retrieved 2020-01-13.

External linksEdit