"Wicked Game" is an 1989 song by Chris Isaak from his third studio album Heart Shaped World. 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 #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, making it the first hit song of his career.


 [hide*1 Composition


The song is written in the mode of B Dorian and it is a ballad about unrequited love,[1][2] performed in what Allmusic describes as a "brooding, sorrowfully conflicted" tone.[3]

Through several years, many different versions and arrangements of the song were made before the final version was released. Both the bassline and drums (except the cymbals) were sampled from previous recordings of the song and then looped.[4] James Calvin Wilsey played the distinctive lead guitar solo on the song.

Music videos[edit]Edit

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 and featured top modelHelena Christensen rolling and frolicking on the beach with Isaak. It was filmed in black and white. Christensen was topless and Isaak was shirtless through most of the video, although clever camera angles concealed any actual nudity. The video won the MTV Video Music Awards for Best Male VideoBest Cinematography and Best Video from a Film. The video was ranked #13 on VH1's 100 Greatest Videos and was also ranked #4 on VH1's 50 Sexiest Video Moments. The video was ranked #73 on Rolling Stone magazine's "The 100 Top Music Videos". The video ranked #1 on Fuse's "40 Sexiest Videos" in 2010.

A previous version of the video was commissioned for the Wild at Heart soundtrack, and was directed by David Lynch.[5]

Use in popular culture[edit]Edit

Track listings[edit]Edit

CD maxi - Europe
  1. "Wicked Game" by Chris Isaak
  2. "Cool Cat Walk" by Angelo Badalamenti
  3. "Dark Spanish Symphony" (string version) by Angelo Badalamenti — 2:34
CD maxi - Promo - U.S.
  1. "Wicked Game" (album version) — 4:46
  2. "Wicked Game" (edit) — 4:06
  3. "Wicked Game" (instrumental) — 4:48
  1. "Wicked Game" (edit) — 4:06
  2. "Wicked Game" (instrumental) — 4:48
12" maxi - UK
  1. "Wicked Game" by Chris Isaak
  2. "Cool Cat Walk" by Angelo Badalamenti
  3. "Dark Spanish Symphony" (string version) by Angelo Badalamenti — 2:34
7" single - Europe
  1. "Wicked Game" by Chris Isaak — 4:06
  2. "Cool Cat Walk" by Angelo Badalamenti — 3:22


Peak positions[edit]Edit

Chart (1990/91) Peak


Australia (ARIA)[7] 15
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[8] 1
Canada Top Singles (RPM)[9] 3
France (SNEP)[10] 42
Germany (Media Control AG)[11] 9
Ireland (IRMA)[12] 10
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[13] 5
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[14] 7
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[15] 3
UK Singles (The Official Charts Company)[16] 10
US Billboard Hot 100[17] 6
US BillboardHot Adult Contemporary Tracks 12[18]
US BillboardMainstream Rock Tracks[17] 10
US BillboardModern Rock Tracks[17] 2

Year-end charts[edit]Edit

Chart (1991) Position
Dutch Top 40[19] 30
US Billboard Hot 100[20] 79


Country Certification Date Sales certified
U.S.[21] Gold April 17, 1991 500,000

Cover versions[edit]Edit

HIM cover[edit]Edit

"Wicked Game"
Single by HIM
from the album Greatest Love Songs Vol. 666
Released September 28, 1998
Format CD Single
Genre Rock
Length 3:54
HIM singles chronology
"Your Sweet Six Six Six"


"Wicked Game"


"It's All Tears (Drown in This Love)"


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 Love Songs 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. With "Wicked Game" on their EP and first album, HIM gained fame in their native Finland.[citation needed] 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 listings[edit]Edit

German release
  1. "Wicked Game" – 3:54
  2. "For You" – 4:00
  3. "Our Diabolikal 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

Parra for Cuva cover[edit]Edit

"Wicked Games"
Single by Parra for Cuva featuring Anna Naklab
Released 14 October 2013
Format CD Single
Genre Deep House
Length 3:15
Label Spinnin' Records
Parra for Cuva featuring Anna Naklab singles chronology
/ "Wicked Games"


Music video
"Wicked Games" on YouTube

In 2013, German house producer Parra For Cuva released a cover version that featured Anna Naklab. The single was retitled as "Wicked Games" in plural. This version has charted in France, Belgium and the Netherlands.

  1. "Wicked Games" (Radio Edit) (3:15)
  2. "Wicked Games" (Original Mix) (5:58)
Chart (2013) Peak


Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[22] 15
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Wallonia)[23] 23
France (SNEP)[24] 127
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[25] 6

Other versions[edit]Edit

  • The video was parodied in the Bloodhound Gang video Screwing You on the Beach at Night.
  • Trentemøller did a Dub remix of this song. It was never released but is available for download.
  • Girls Aloud recorded the track but is currently unreleased.
  • The song was used in a contemporary routine choreographed by Travis Wall on So You Think You Can Dance season 10, with Amy Yakima.
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