Roll over, Mr. Presley, ‘Viva’ rival emerges


If you write a song about Las Vegas, you gotta go big.

Like, 22-piece brass section big. Or “Viva Las Vegas” big.

“I definitely didn’t sit down to write a little tune,” says Matt Goss. “I definitely sat down to write a song about a city that I really, genuinely have love for.”

“Lovely Las Vegas” is the finale of the British crooner’s ongoing show in Cleopatra’s Barge at Caesars Palace. It has gained some traction as one of the more credible attempts at a theme song alternative to the Elvis Presley movie tune, which only a few frustrated songwriters over the years would argue is not the city’s anthem.

Last Tuesday, Goss released a four-song EP called “I Do,” which includes a newly recorded version of “Lovely Las Vegas.” The song has served as the theme of KVVU-TV, Channel 5’s “More Access” since Goss penned it at the station’s request.

“So many people in Las Vegas say that they love the song,” he says. “I’m looking forward to the song actually being available.”

The retro-themed showcase Goss opened in early 2010 had the historic setting, the vintage attire and even showgirls. But it was missing just the right “uberglamorous” Las Vegas song. After appearing on “More Access” and being asked to write a theme, “I went away for maybe 10 days and I came up with this song. … It was a win-win for both of us.”

I’ve written in the past about various other contenders for a Las Vegas theme. This very weekend (unless they have changed their set list), Tim McGraw and Faith Hill opened their Venetian showcase with Hill’s 1995 hit “Let’s Go to Vegas,” written by Karen Staley.

Barry Manilow took a stab at it with “Here’s to Las Vegas” when he dug in as a resident act a few years ago. But the song disappeared when he did. Jerry Herman, of “Mame” and “Hello Dolly” fame, penned “Las Vegas” for “Miss Spectacular.” But the song voiced by Steve Lawrence is as obscure as the concept album that preserves the unproduced musical.

My closer-to-home favorites are Tony Sacca’s “Las Vegas, The Greatest Town Around” — if only because it’s been around as long as the unsinkable local TV host — and Clint Holmes’ “L.V. (Las Vegas),” an energizing tune that suffered only from the fact that nobody calls the place “L.V.”

Goss’ song got credibility points when “Jubilee!” worked it into the finale for the show’s 30th anniversary in 2011.

“I wouldn’t say I’m trying to unseat the champion, but I’m gonna be honest. I’m not gonna not compete with the champ,” Goss says of a certain Elvis song. “I’m definitely going to compete with that song and I think I’m really, definitely giving it a run for its money.”

Either way, you can’t argue with a lyric of Goss’ song. “It’s plain to see,” he sings, that the city (and the song about it) “have been good to me.”

Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at mweatherford@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0288.