"Wicked Game" is a 1989 song by Chris Isaak from his third studio albumHeart 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 BillboardHot 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. 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 both 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 Video, Best 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.
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. 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."
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.
A haunting electronic cover of this song was recorded by XFactor (UK) 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.