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"Wicked Game" is a song by American rock musician Chris Isaak, released from his third studio album Heart Shaped World (1989). Despite being released as a single in 1989, it did not become a hit until it was later featured in the David Lynch film Wild at Heart (1990). Lee Chesnut, an Atlanta radio station music director who loved David Lynch films, began playing the song, and it quickly became a nationwide top-ten hit in January 1991, reaching number 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, making it the first hit song of Isaak's career.

"Wicked Game"
Wicked Games by Chris Isaak US commercial cassette.jpg
U.S. commercial cassette single
Single by Chris Isaak
from the album Heart Shaped World
B-side"Wicked Game" (instrumental)
ReleasedNovember 8, 1990
Songwriter(s)Chris Isaak
Producer(s)Erik Jacobsen
Chris Isaak singles chronology
"Don't Make Me Dream About You"
"Wicked Game"
"Blue Spanish Sky"

It has subsequently been covered by many other artists and been featured in numerous high-profile movies and television series and advertisements, so much so that Dazed magazine questioned whether it might be the most influential love song in modern music.[1]


The song is in the key of E Mixolydian mode[2] performed in what AllMusic describes as a "brooding, sorrowfully conflicted" tone.[3]

Although it is often interpreted as a ballad about unrequited love,[4][5] Isaak himself has said that the song was inspired by a telephone call from a girl seeking to arrange a casual sexual liaison and is about "what happens when you have a strong attraction to people that aren't necessarily good for you".[6] It was written in short order following the call.[7]

During the sessions for Isaak's third album, many different versions and arrangements of the song were made before the final version was completed. James Calvin Wilsey came up with the distinctive guitar lead;[8] both the bassline and drums (except the cymbals) were sampled from previous recordings of the song and then looped. [9]

Music videosEdit

There are two different music videos for this song. The most well-known music video of the song was directed by Herb Ritts, shot in Hawaii at what was formerly known as Kamoamoa beach in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island. The newly formed black-sand beach was created from lava from Kilauea volcano flowing into the ocean about a mile away. The beach was covered by lava not long after the video was shot. The video featured supermodel Helena Christensen rolling and frolicking on the beach with Isaak. It was mostly filmed in black and white. Isaak and Christensen were shirtless through most of the video, although her nudity was concealed by clever camera angles. In the middle of the video, Christensen was seen only in her black lace bra and panties. The video won the MTV Video Music Awards for Best Male Video, Best Cinematography and Best Video from a Film. It was ranked #13 on VH1's 100 Greatest Videos, #4 on VH1's 50 Sexiest Video Moments, #73 on Rolling Stone magazine's The 100 Top Music Videos, and #1 on Fuse's 40 Sexiest Videos in 2010.

Another video was commissioned for the Wild at Heart VHS release and was directed by David Lynch.[10][11] It features scenes of Lula (Laura Dern) and Sailor (Nicolas Cage) from the film, interspersed with black-and-white footage of Isaak performing the song.

Track listingsEdit


Charts and certificationsEdit


Region Certification Certified units/sales
Denmark (IFPI Denmark)[29] Gold 45,000^
Italy (FIMI)[30] Gold 25,000 
United Kingdom (BPI)[31] Gold 400,000 
United States (RIAA)[32] Gold 500,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone
 sales+streaming figures based on certification alone

Other versionsEdit



"Wicked Game"
Single by HIM
from the album Greatest Lovesongs Vol. 666
ReleasedSeptember 28, 1998
FormatCD Single
Songwriter(s)Chris Isaak
HIM singles chronology
"Your Sweet Six Six Six"
"Wicked Game"
"Join Me in Death"

The Finnish band HIM remade this song, first using it in their demo This Is Only the Beginning, then on their EP 666 Ways To Love: Prologue, followed by another recording of it on their first album Greatest Lovesongs Vol. 666, and lastly on the British and American versions of their second album Razorblade Romance. The last recording they made of it then reappeared on their compilation album And Love Said No: The Greatest Hits 1997–2004. "Wicked Game" became the band's breakthrough song in their native Finland.[33] HIM frontman Ville Valo had this to say about "Wicked Game": "I went to Pasila's library and borrowed the soundtrack-vinyl of Wild At Heart and recorded it on tape. So with Linde we tried to 'learn' the song from the tape. It was kind of funny, that we learnt the song a bit wrong. We did not hear the guitar parts well enough from that 'bad quality' tape. We also heard the lyrics wrong, and when the song was later recorded to our first EP, there were a few funny mistakes in the lyrics."[citation needed]

Track listingsEdit
German release
  1. "Wicked Game" – 3:54
  2. "For You" – 4:00
  3. "Our Diabolical Rapture" – 5:20
  4. "Wicked Game" (666 Remix) – 3:58
Finnish release
  1. "Wicked Game"
  2. "For You"
2000 UK release
  1. "Wicked Game" – 3:36
  2. "When Love and Death Embrace" (Amnt Mix) – 3:34
  3. "The Heartless" (Serdlidlim Mix) – 3:11
2000 Swedish release
  1. "Wicked Game" 2000
  2. "When Love and Death Embrace" (Amnt Mix) – 3:34

Il DivoEdit

"Wicked Game (Melanconia)"
Single by Il Divo
Released4 November 2011
LabelSyco Music
Songwriter(s)Chris Isaak
Producer(s)Per Magnusson; David Kreuger
Il Divo singles chronology
"The Time of Our Lives"
"Wicked Game (Melanconia)"
"Por una Cabeza"

Il Divo bought the copyright and covered the song in the classical crossover genre, performing the song in their own unique lyrical voice, in Italian. It was included on their 2011 album of the same name.[34]

Gemma HayesEdit

"Wicked Game"
Single by Gemma Hayes
ReleasedMarch 10, 2012 Ireland
March 12, 2012 International
RecordedJanuary 2012
LabelGH Records
Songwriter(s)Chris Isaak
Producer(s)Gemma Hayes

Singer songwriter Gemma Hayes recorded a version of the song.

On February 16, 2012 Hayes revealed in an interview with Evening Echo's 'Downtown', she recorded a cover version of Wicked Game" for US Teen drama Pretty Little Liars, the song featured throughout her 2012 tour playlist.[35]

On 1 March 2012, confirmed her cover of "Wicked Game" would appear on Pretty Little Liars on 12 March and will be available to download as a single.

The track was released after her fourth studio album Let It Break and before her fifth studio album release Bones+Longing.

In March 2015, a video musical session was recorded playing this song at St. Patrick's Chapel – Irish Cultural Center, Paris.[36]

Chart position

In January 2012, Hayes was asked to record a cover version of Chris Isaak' 'Wicked Game' for US teen drama 'Pretty Little Liars'. The track appeared on US TV in March 2012.[37] The track was released on iTunes on 12 March 2012.[38] The song performed well in the charts peaking at #5 in Canada, #4 in Ireland, #3 in France and #1 in Sweden.[39]

Parra for CuvaEdit

"Wicked Games"
Single by Parra for Cuva featuring Anna Naklab
Released14 October 2013
FormatCD single, digital download
LabelSpinnin' Deep
Songwriter(s)Chris Isaak
Parra for Cuva singles chronology
"Wicked Games"
"Sacred Feathers"
Anna Naklab singles chronology
"Something Near"
"Wicked Games"
"Fading Nights"

In 2013, German house producer Parra for Cuva released a cover version that featured Anna Naklab. The single was re-titled as "Wicked Games" in plural. It was first released on Beatport worldwide as a digital download in August 2013, then a mainstream release as a digital download in France in October 2013 and in Germany on 14 February 2014. The song has charted in Australia, France, Belgium, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.

Track listingEdit
  1. "Wicked Games" (radio edit) – 3:15
  2. "Wicked Games" (original mix) – 5:58


Chart (2013–14) Peak
Australia (ARIA)[40] 14
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[41] 15
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Wallonia)[42] 21
France (SNEP)[43] 72
Germany (Official German Charts)[44] 89
Hungary (Rádiós Top 40)[45] 40
Ireland (IRMA)[46] 54
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[47] 6
Scotland (Official Charts Company)[48] 4
UK Dance (Official Charts Company)[49] 1
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[50] 6


Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[51] Gold 35,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone

Release historyEdit

Region Date Label Format
France 14 October 2013 Spinnin' Records Digital download
Germany 14 February 2014
Ireland 24 October 2014
United Kingdom 26 October 2014


  • Canadian folk band Harrow Fair covers the song on their 2017–2018 North American tour.[52]
  • Swedish metal band In Flames covered the song on their covers EP, "Down, Wicked & No Good", released in November 2017.[53]
  • In 2017 Boston Crusaders Drum and Bugle Corps used an arrangement of this song in their program entitled Wicked Games.[54]
  • In 2017 Canadian band Theory of a Deadman remade the song on their sixth album Wake Up Call.
  • In 2016 Latvian singer-songwriter Johnny Osma released an acoustic guitar cover version
  • An electronic cover of this song was recorded by The X Factor finalist Daniel Evans on his YouTube channel in 2013. He used scenes from the Terrence Malick film The Tree of Life featuring Jessica Chastain to create a video for this piano based/electronic version. There is also a slightly darker alternative version with just Evans featuring dark flashbacks of emotion. This was subsequently released as the title track for his album of the same name.
  • In 2012 Irish singer-songwriter Gemma Hayes[55] was asked to record the track for US teen drama series Pretty Little Liars. In 2014, a vocal house remix of this, alongside Betoko, appeared on Anjunabeats Volume 11.
  • The German dance/techno-outfit Novaspace recorded a version of the song for their 2004 album Cubes.
  • Heather Nova included a cover on her 2005 album Redbird.
  • The gregorian chant -inspired music group Gregorian made a cover of the song for their album Masters of Chant Chapter III.
  • R.E.M. included a cover of the song on their 1995 Fan Club Christmas Single.
  • Corey Taylor of Stone Sour and Slipknot performed this song acoustic in Stone Sour's tours of 2006 and 2007. A live acoustic version of the song is on the special edition version of the Stone Sour album Come What(ever) May.
  • Three Days Grace performed this song acoustic on the band's tour in 2007, and this version is available for download on the iTunes version of their album, One-X.
  • Bossasonic made a cover of Wicked Game that was released in 2008.
  • Tangerine Dream, in their 2010 album Under Cover – Chapter One.
  • Jordan Winter covered this song for the promo for Emmerdale's Cain Dingle Judgement Day
  • Swedish pop singer Linda Pritchard released the song as a single in September/October 2011.
  • Swiss All-Female band Les Reines prochaines released a cover of the song on their album Le Coeur en Beurre-Doublegras under the name "Opfer dieses Liedes" (performed by Pipilotti Rist)
  • Giant Drag covered the song on the album Hearts and Unicorns in 2005 as a UK bonus track, later available in the March 2006 US release as well.
  • James Vincent McMorrow covered the song on the EP We Don't Eat, and was featured in the trailer for the sixth season of Game of Thrones.
  • In 2011, the song was covered by Il Divo with the title "Melanconia".
  • Widowspeak covered the song on their EP "Gun Shy" released in 2011.
  • Phillip Phillips released his rendition of the song on his 2012 album, The World from the Side of the Moon
  • Emika has included a version on her album, Dva.
  • Canadian youtuber Jamie Dupuis released and instrumental cover of the song on Harp Guitar in 2018.[56]
  • A cover of the song is included on Milk Inc. 2013 album, Undercover.
  • London Grammar performed the song as an encore during their 2013 UK tour, as well as recording a live version for the BBC
  • In 2013 song was sung by Anton Belyaev on the Russian version of The Voice
  • In 2013, Spanish singer Patricia Tapia covered the song with her band, KHY.
  • Emilie Simon, who had previously sung "Blue Hotel" as a duet with Isaak on French TV show Taratata, released a cover of this song on her sixth studio album Mue in 2014.
  • Chilean band La Ley released a cover (in Spanish) of this song as a single in 2014, with the title "Sin tí".
  • Norwegian power pop trio Spoonfool recorded a version for their Encounter EP, released in 2000.
  • In 2015, the song was covered by St.Jon.[57]
  • The debut trailer for open world racing video game Forza Horizon 3 shown at E3 2016[58] featured a cover of the song performed by Ursine Vulpine featuring Annaca.[59]. The same version of the song also featured in a TV commercial for the car manufacturer Alfa Romeo.[60]
  • Run and Hide produced a version of "Wicked Game" as their first single with vocals from Laura Bodorin in January 2017.
  • American folk-pop band Johnnyswim released a cover of the song on their 2016 album Georgica Pond.
  • The song was covered by husband and wife duo, actors Nathan West (who performs under the name East of Eli) and Chyler Leigh, who released the song, under the name "Westleigh".[61]


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External linksEdit