Thursday, August 10, 2017

Songoftheday 8/10/17 - The world was on fire and no one could save me but you, it's strange what desire will make foolish people do...

"Wicked Game" - Chris Isaak
from the album Heart Shaped World (1989)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #6 (one week)
Weeks in the Top-40: 11

Today's song of the day comes from retro-pop crooner Chris Isaak, who hails from northern California, and named his debut album, Silvertone, after his backing band. While the album was originally unnoticed nationally, in Australia he scored a minor hit with the moody Orbison-esque "Dancin'" (#77), while two other tracks showed up in the 1986 movie Twin Peaks. A year later, Chris released his self-titled sophomore effort, and slipped on the British chart at the bottom rung (#100) with "Blue Hotel". After being moved to the more artistic Reprise label from Warner Bros, he put out his third studio set Heart Shaped World. The first single from the record, the blues-rock number "Don't Make Me Dream About You", was his first radio hit in America, reaching #18 on Billboard's Modern Rock chart. However, it took David Lynch again to give Isaak his biggest success. Lynch used Isaak's Heart Shaped World track "Wicked Game" in his film Wild At Heart, and after radio stations were clamored with requests, the brooding tale of heartbreak got a proper single release, and the salacious black and white video from Herb Ritts (Madonna's "Cherish", Janet Jackson's "Love Will Never Do") turned heads on MTV...


"Wicked Game" climbed all the way to the top ten on the American pop chart in March of 1991. The single also went to #2 for a week on Billboard's Modern Rock radio chart, and #10 on their Mainstream Rock list. It also crossed over to #12 on their Adult Contemporary (or "easy listening") chart. Internationally, "Wicked Game" topped the chart in Belgium, and reached the top-10 in Canada (#3), Sweden (#3), the Netherlands (#5), New Zealand (#7), Finland (#8), Germany (#9), and the UK (#10). Outside of America, the song was included on a compilation-style Wicked Game album, and in Britain "Blue Hotel" was re-released, scoring Chris a second top-40 British hit at #17.

In 1993, Isaak released his fourth studio record San Francisco Days, with lead single "Can't Do A Thing To Stop Me", a sound-alike in atmosphere to "Wicked Game", reaching #7 on the Modern Rock chart and #11 on the Adult Contemporary list, but missing out on the pop Hot 100 but "bubbling under" at #105 (it did reach the top-40 in the UK at #36, his third and last so far).

Two years later, Chris came within striking distance of the American Top-40 with "Somebody's Crying" (#45 pop, #27 Adult Contemporary, #34 Modern Rock). A second track from the Forever Blue album, "Go Walking Down There", was his most recent rock radio hit at #32. A third, the jump-blues homage "Baby Did A Bad, Bad Thing", was used in the movie Eyes Wide Shut in 1999 and landed on the Adult Top-40 radio format chart at #29. In the meantime, he also appeared in various TV and movie vehicles, and even starred in his own Showtime show in the early naughties. During that time, he sent his "Let Me Down Easy" single to #18 on the Adult Contemporary list and #15 Adult Top-40 in 2002. In 2004, he collaborated with Stevie Nicks on the holiday tune "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town", sleighing in at #25 AC. Five years later, he showed up on the new Adult Album Alternative ("Triple-A") format list at #5 with "We Let Her Down". Isaak's most recent studio album, 2015's First Comes The Night, reached #66 on the albums chart in the US.

(Click below to see the rest of the post)


An alternate video directed by David Lynch also was released, but was eclipsed by the steamy beach scene one from Ritts...



In 1992, HI-NRG/disco singer Paul Parker ("Right On Target") released a club version of the song that still entrances me to this day...


Isaak appeared on MTV Unplugged and stripped down "Wicked Game"...


In 2011, Italian "pop-opera" group Il Divo took their album named for the song to the top ten in the US and England...


Back to Chris from a more recent concert...


In 2012, Irish singer Gemma Hayes topped the chart in Sweden and went to #5 in Canada with her take on the track...


The following year, German Eurodance act Parra for Cuva released another dance version of "Wicked Game", and hit the top ten in the UK (#6) and the Netherlands (#6)...


I'll rewind back to 1995 with Chris performing at an AIDS benefit for Lifebeat...


Lastly, here's Isaak talking about the "Wicked Game" video in a clip from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame...


Up tomorrow: Latin freestyle artist gives another go for a #1 hit.

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