Chris Isaak has enjoyed a long, fruitful career: 12 studio albums, all featuring his trademark blend of rockabilly sneers and classic crooner charm; a starring role as Special Agent Chester Desmond in David Lynch's Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me; and his own pioneering Showtime comedy series, The Chris Isaak Show, which alongside Curb Your Enthusiasm and The Larry Sanders Show, helped blur the line between comedic fiction and reality.
Isaak's talents are many, but chances are you know him because of his 1989 song "Wicked Game." Originally featured on Isaak's album Heart Shaped World, the sultry jam stalled on release, but became a hit a few years later in 1991, after an instrumental version appeared in Lynch's Wild at Heart, boasting demand for the original. Draped in reverb and accompanied by a video starring Danish model Helena Christensen, "Wicked Game" quickly became a standard on bedroom mixtapes and playlists. There's no denying it—obvious as it may be at this point, it lands squarely in the sweet spot between mournful and erotic.
Unsurprisingly, it's proven a popular cover. Everyone from Lana Del Rey to Pink to Stone Sour has taken a stab at it, and with Isaak rolling into town this week, we've rounded up five covers of his trademark ballad and rated them against the original's sexiness.
HIM: Sexy like a Heartagram
Finnish band HIM reportedly learned "Wicked Game" from a poorly dubbed cassette tape, but its version still connected with Hot Topic-clad goths. Singer Ville Valo sticks pretty close to Isaak's tortured vocals, but all the liquid reverb is replaced with chunky palm-muted riffs. Potentially sexy, especially if you're Bam Margera or super looking forward to the Suicide Squad film.
Il Divo: Erotic paperback sexy
Moms all over the globe swooned when classical crossover vocal group Il Divo covered "Wicked Game" for their album of the same name, debuting their very operatic and very grandiose version on America's Got Talent. Isaak's original will forever be associated with David Lynch, evoking his strange worlds; Il Divo's take feels more like the lushly painted cover of a supermarket romance novel, its lustiness completely over the top.
James Vincent McMorrow: Sexy in an unsullied sort of way
Imagine being a music supervisor sitting in your office at HBO thinking, "Wait a minute...Game of Thrones...'Wicked Game'...hang on, I've got an idea!" Irish singer James Vincent McMorrow's acoustic version soundtracked the trailer for season six of Game of Thrones, which included (spoiler alert) very unsexy things like Hodor squaring up against those White Walkers and Khaleesi dumping that handsome guy from Nashville. Only a turn on if that version of "Mad World" from Donnie Darko works for you.
Washed Out: Sexy like Carrie Brownstein with a mustache
Portlandia themesters Washed Out covered "Wicked Game" for Sirius XMU's "Sessions" program at the start of the decade, and the use of eerie electric piano and synth-leads give this take a unique and not entirely unsensual feel. We can picture Peter and Nance awkwardly smooching to it.
Gregorian: Sexy like a church service
In the early '90s, the Benedictine Monks of Santo Domingo De Silos' scored a surprise hit with their album, Chant, briefly inspiring a plainsong craze. German outfit Gregorian got in on the trend and has bizarrely kept steadily at it. In 2002, they offered up an evensong version of "Wicked Game," bolstered by metal riffs and drums. But no amount of tension can erase the fact you're listening to a choir—no sexy points to be awarded here.