Lana Del Rey’s “Video Games” is a sweet little love song, even if it’s so drenched in melancholy it sounds like longing for something that’s already passed. In the song, video games are woven in as an activity among other daily minutia, like putting on perfume and drinking beer. The speaker of the song is, herself, playing the games with the person she is singing to, an activity that punctuates the relationship and serves as a point of nostalgic attachment.
The song is a far cry from the heavily electronic music so often associated with video gaming, which seems to stem from a kind of “medium is the message” impulse. Del Rey’s song, however, presents video games as everyday objects, which is in some ways a much more compelling depiction than the kind of obsession with technological novelty prevalent in so much of the pop music about or associated with video games. See, for example, Mi-Sex’s “Computer Games,” which I’ve written about previously [link], or even Buckner & Garcia’s captivating, if excruciating Pac-Man Fever album.
Lana Del Rey’s “Video Games” is interesting specifically because there is no way to read it at as a novelty song. It isn’t toying with computerized sound in a pop song as means of commenting on video games or even attempting to cash into a major fad with an infuriatingly catchy song about a hit game. “Video Games” is a love song that happens to have playing video games as a major through thread. This is what the ubiquity of a technological medium looks like; video games have become part of day-to-day life.