"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.
U.S. commercial cassette single
|Single by Chris Isaak|
|from the album Heart Shaped World|
|B-side||"Wicked Game" (instrumental)|
|Released||November 8, 1990|
|Chris Isaak singles chronology|
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.
Although it is often interpreted as a ballad about unrequited love, 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". It was written in short order following the call.
During the sessions for Isaak's third album, many different versions and arrangements of the song were made before the final version was completed. Wilsey came up with the distinctive guitar lead; both the bassline and drums (except the cymbals) were sampled from previous recordings of the song and then looped. James Calvin Wilsey played the distinctive lead guitar solo on the song.
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. 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.
Charts and certificationsEdit
|United Kingdom (BPI)||Gold||400,000|
|United States (RIAA)||Gold||500,000^|
^shipments figures based on certification alone
|Single by HIM|
|from the album Greatest Lovesongs Vol. 666|
|Released||September 28, 1998|
|HIM singles chronology|
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. 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."
- German release
- "Wicked Game" – 3:54
- "For You" – 4:00
- "Our Diabolical Rapture" – 5:20
- "Wicked Game" (666 Remix) – 3:58
- Finnish release
- "Wicked Game"
- "For You"
- 2000 UK release
- "Wicked Game" – 3:36
- "When Love and Death Embrace" (Amnt Mix) – 3:34
- "The Heartless" (Serdlidlim Mix) – 3:11
- 2000 Swedish release
- "Wicked Game" 2000
- "When Love and Death Embrace" (Amnt Mix) – 3:34
|"Wicked Game (Melanconia)"|
|Single by Il Divo|
|Released||4 November 2011|
|Producer(s)||Per Magnusson; David Kreuger|
|Il Divo singles chronology|
|Single by Gemma Hayes|
|Released||March 10, 2012 Ireland |
March 12, 2012 International
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.
On 1 March 2012, gemmahayes.com confirmed her cover of "Wicked Game" would appear on Pretty Little Liars on 12 March and will be available to download as a single.
In March 2015, a video musical session was recorded playing this song at St. Patrick's Chapel – Irish Cultural Center, Paris.
- 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. The track was released on iTunes on 12 March 2012. The song performed well in the charts peaking at #5 in Canada, #4 in Ireland, #3 in France and #1 in Sweden.
Parra for CuvaEdit
|Single by Parra for Cuva featuring Anna Naklab|
|Released||14 October 2013|
|Format||CD single, digital download|
|Parra for Cuva singles chronology|
|Anna Naklab singles chronology|
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.
- "Wicked Games" (radio edit) – 3:15
- "Wicked Games" (original mix) – 5:58
|Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)||15|
|Belgium (Ultratop 50 Wallonia)||21|
|Germany (Official German Charts)||89|
|Hungary (Rádiós Top 40)||40|
|Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)||6|
|Scotland (Official Charts Company)||4|
|UK Dance (Official Charts Company)||1|
|UK Singles (Official Charts Company)||6|
^shipments figures based on certification alone
|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.
- Swedish metal band In Flames covered the song on their covers EP, "Down, Wicked & No Good", released in November 2017.
- In 2017 Boston Crusaders Drum and Bugle Corps used an arrangement of this song in their program entitled Wicked Games.
- In 2017 Canadian band Theory of a Deadman made that song on the 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 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.
- 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.
- The debut trailer for open world racing video game Forza Horizon 3 shown at E3 2016 featured a cover of the song performed by Ursine Vulpine featuring Annaca.. The same version of the song also featured in a TV commercial for the car manufacturer Alfa Romeo.
- 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".
- Irish musician Katie Kim recorded a version of the song in 2004.
- Australian musician Edward Guglielmino plays it as a cover at his live performances.
- American band Maroon 5 perform a sample with their song "She Will Be Loved" during It Won't Be Soon Before Long Tour in 2008.
- American band Daughtry perform a sample during Long Way on Leave This Town Tour in 2009 and 2010.
- Siobhan Magnus performed this song in the first round of the semi-finals on the ninth season of American Idol.
- Rebecca Ferguson performed it on the fourth live show of The X Factor series seven.
- Pink performed the song live during her 2013 tour.
- In August, 2013, Pledge Karma covered this song live on ABC Radio (Bangladesh).
- American musician David Cook performed the song as part of his setlist during many of his 2013 and 2014 shows.
- British band Wolf Alice performed a cover of the song at Glastonbury Festival 2014 and several other sets during their 2014 tour.
- Croatian Nina Kraljić, season 1 winner of The Voice – Najljepši glas Hrvatske, performed this song on the competition's first live show, aired on 21 March 2015.
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