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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 1990, 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 his career.
The song is written in the mode of B Dorian and it is a ballad about unrequited love, performed in what AllMusic describes as a "brooding, sorrowfully conflicted" tone.
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.James Calvin Wilsey played the distinctive lead guitar solo on the song.
There are two different music videos for this song. "Wicked Game," the most well-known music video of the song was directed by Herb Ritts, shot in Hawaii and featured top model Helena Christensen rolling and frolicking on the beach with Isaak. It was filmed in black and white. Christensen and Isaak were shirtless through most of the video, although Christensen's nudity was concealed by clever camera angles. 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.
|Dutch Top 40
|US Billboard Hot 100
- CD maxi - Europe
- CD maxi - Promo - U.S.
- 12" maxi - UK
- 7" single - Europe
- 7" single - US (Reprise 7-19704)
- German release
- Finnish release
- 2000 UK release
- 2000 Swedish release
- Chart position
- The song was used in the 1989 film The Preppie Murder directed by John Herzfeld
- The song was used as a theme for supercouple Jack and Jennifer in the soap opera Days of Our Lives.
- The song was used in the Brett Ratner film, The Family Man, the Ridley Scott film, Matchstick Men, and the David Lynch film, Wild at Heart; each starring Nicolas Cage.
- The song was used in two episodes of Beverly Hills, 90210 "One Man and a Baby" from Season 1 and "Wildfire" from Season 2. It was also used in its spin-off 90210 in the season 3 episode "How Much Is That Liam in the Window".
- The song was used in two episodes of Friends Season 2; "The One with the Prom Video" (2x14) and "The One Where Ross and Rachel...You Know" (2x15).
- In Flight of the Conchords, the character Dave states that "Women like three things: Men in Kilts, Southern Comfort and Chris Isaak's Wicked Game."
- The song was used in The Mentalist in the season 4 finale, "The Crimson Hat".
- The song was used in the 1991 episode of Top Gear where Jeremy Clarkson tested the W140 Mercedes-Benz S-Class
- The song was used in the 1992 film Leaving Normal directed by Edward Zwick.
- The song has been used in the soap operas The Young and the Restless, One Life to Live and General Hospital.
- The song was used in the UK commercial advertising the Jaguar X-type in 2001.
- The master recording song was featured in Konami's rebooted version of their singing video game called Karaoke Revolution.
- The song was covered by South African singer Nicholis Louw in 2005.
- The song was covered by the band HIM In 1997 on their album Greatest Lovesongs Vol. 666, and they subsequently released the video in 1998.
- Singer Rebecca Ferguson covered it on the seventh season of The X Factor.
- The song was covered by Pink on her 2013 tour, The Truth About Love Tour.
- The song was covered by Phillip Phillips and is available on the deluxe edition of his debut album, The World from the Side of the Moon.
- John Pritchard auditioned with the song on series 2 of The Voice UK in 2013, and will.i.am turned his chair to become his coach.
- The song was covered by Emika and is available on her second album, Dva. Emika's cover was used in the fifth episode of The Blacklist, "The Courier".
- A cover of the song by Coves was also used in 2013 in the trailers for the BBC TV series The White Queen.
- The song was used on episode 9 of series 3 of Top Gear at the beginning of the Chrysler Crossfire review.
- The Australian band Karnivool incorporated a portion of Wicked Game into an in-concert performance of their own song, "Lifelike", during the period 2005-2006.
- The song was used in the 2014 revival of A Streetcar Named Desire starring Gillian Anderson, Ben Foster, and Vanessa Kirby.
- Singer Taylor John Williams covered it on the seventh season of The Voice.
- The song was frequently used as bumper music on Coast to Coast AM with Art Bell.
- The song was featured in the TV series Moone Boy.
- The song was used in the TV series Made in Chelsea.
- The song was covered by Lykke Li at the David Lynch benefit concert in April 2015
- The song was covered in 2013 by Parra for Cuva and retitled "Wicked Games", sung by vocalist Anna Naklab.
- In 2014, the Chilean band La Ley released a Spanish-language version of the song, titled "Sin Ti" (Without You).
- This song was covered by Three Days Grace on the deluxe version of their One-X album.
- In 2015, the song was covered by David Cook on his album Digital Vein.
James Vincent McMorrow's version appeared in the trailer for the sixth season of Game of Thrones.
- The song was covered by Canadian rock band Bike Thiefs on May 11, 2016
- In 2016 a cover of this song appeared in the episode "The Crown v Atwood" in the TV series Guilt.
- In 2016 Latvian singer-songwriter Johnny Osma recorded an acoustic guitar cover version of this song and it was released as a single on iTunes.
- 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 feat. 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 Judgment 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.
- 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 in Russian version "The Voice"
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.
HIM covered the song on the album Greatest Love Songs Vol. 666 released in 1997.
- Chilean band La Ley released a cover (in Spanish) of this song as a single in 2014, with the title "Sin tí".
- In 2015, the song was covered by St.Jon.
- Russian musician Alexander Korshunov recorded his version of the song in November 2016
- 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.
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