Tim Tan Huynh

Chris Isaak – “Wicked Game”

8 Nov 2015 — It's the perfect song and video for daydreaming.

Today is the 25th anniversary of the release of the “Wicked Game” single by Chris Isaak. Besides being his biggest hit, it’s also the soundtrack to a timeless music video. There’s actually two versions; the original one is directed by David Lynch and shows footage from his 1990 movie Wild At Heart, starring Nicolas Cage and Laura Dern.

The more famous version is directed by fashion and music photographer Herb Ritts. This video shows Chris and supermodel Helena Christensen canoodling on a tropical beach. It’s black and white, naturally, except for a clip that has a sepia filter during an instrumental-only section. The romantic visuals match the slow tempo of the song, which is actually about destructive love with kind of a Roy Orbison vibe, at least during the chorus.

I remember the Pop-Up Video treatment for this song, especially the trivia about Chris Isaak initially worrying that the video wouldn’t be sexy enough. He describes the story in an interview with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for an exhibit about Herb Ritts.

I wish that I didn’t know where it was shot; part of the allure was wondering where the beach could be and imagining myself being there. It’s still great, a quarter-century later. If only there were a high-def version.