My friend Dave has been asking folks to chime in with YouTube-link contributions to a number of themed playlists he's started on his Facebook page. (The first was "women who rock more fiercely than any man who was ever alive," and the second was "songs so sad you almost can't bear to hear them;" these descriptions are more how I remember them than how he described them.)
Next up, he said, will be a "Dirty-Sexy" playlist. He didn't elaborate on the criteria that would deem a song worthy of holding a place on such a playlist, leaving the interpretation up to me (and up to... whoever else out there in the world is all jazzed about creating playlists that fit his chosen themes; so far it's mostly me).
There are many sexy songs out there. So many. It's actually hard to think of a song that's not about love or sex, or that doesn't reside in some hazy slice of the Venn diagram that's both. But when he adds "dirty" to the front of it, to me that means we're not looking for songs that are merely sensual, or sweetly sexual — those would be songs for making love with your soul mate. We're also not talking about anything too soulful — anything in which pesky old distracting emotions are in the foreground. The songs I thought of for this list are more... primal, more elemental, more... physical.
In my view, the lyrics didn't necessarily have to be about sex, although I did choose some of the songs in part or mostly because of select erotic lines in them. In general, I was looking for more of a "dirty-sexy" vibe or atmosphere, songs that seemed to emphasize a raw physicality over anything else. Feel free to add your own to what I have below. (I've also created a "Dirty Sexy" playlist on Spotify. I'm "christielauryn" on there, and all of my tons of variously themed playlists are 100% open for the public to see, if you'd like to take a gander and a listen.)
1. "If" by Janet Jackson
Let's kick it off old-school style! This song makes me want to put on something midriff-baring (and borrow Janet Jackson's abs) and dance all slutty* in a club. Also, I'm pretty sure that 90% of the lyrics I'm unable to make out are naughty.
*Not a bad word to me. Takin' it back. To me, slutty just means "sexy in an unapologetically overt and devil-may-care manner." As in: "Check you out in that latex minidress, you foxy slut!" Sluts rock, man. Them's my people.
2. "Christiansands" by Tricky
The slinky groove makes this sound like hot sex in some boiler-type room on a spaceship in the future, as imagined by someone living in the '90s. (Sometimes when I hear songs, I think of dopey music videos in my head.) But mostly it just makes me dance all sexy in my driver's seat and worry that the folks in the cars all around me at red lights are clutching their pearls and going, "Heavens to Betsy!"
3. "Enjoy" by Björk
I thought I'd put this one next in part because Björk and Tricky dated for a while, and he worked with her on creating this song. It's also got a sexy, slinky, primal sort of vibe, in addition to being a declaration of shameless hedonism. I think this song and "Christiansands" would be simpatico lovers. This one's also got some sexy lyrics:
"This is sex without touching... I'm going to explode."
"I'm only into this to enjoy."
4. "Can't You Trip Like I Do" by Filter/The Crystal Method
This one also starts out sounding kinda sci-fi and video-game, but what made me add it to the list is what happens at about the 1:45 mark, when the probably-actually-about-to-have-an-orgasm girl providing vocals implores: "I want you to trip like I do"... and the song explodes into a full-throttle and awesomely sustained, "fasten your seatbelts, folks... or don't" ride.
Play this loud.
5. "In Your Room" by Depeche Mode (Portishead "Jeep remix")
Like some "Mad Max: Fury Road" of the sexy-song world, this one dispenses with the foreplay. It comes on strong and stays that way, and I love it for it. That's not to say it doesn't vary the rhythm and skillfully shift the mood to keep things interesting. This is another one to play loud. (I've made love to this one, as well as to #6 and #7; it gets the tried-and-tested, Christie Stamp of Approval.)
6. "Metronomic Underground" by Stereolab
A slower sexy, slinky groove. This is also on the list of "songs that Christie can imagine being a stripper to." It builds and builds to a chaotic, crashing climax toward the end. (Also, at nearly eight minutes, it doesn't end too soon, which is good for a sexy song; it sustains the mood for a good long time.) Get past the first few moments, in which it sounds as if you've stumbled across a bunch of rubber duckies with digestive problems, and it's all good from there.
7. "Mezzanine" by Massive Attack
This has a slow groove that's more low-key but serves as good background music for all kinds of fun activities ("all kinds of fun activities" = my Puritanical version of sexytalk). I consider this one more of a "supporting player" than a star; on its own, the song is kind of ho-hum, but the vibe is a good fit for a sexytimes playlist.
I didn't realize until creating this playlist how many songs I would consider to be "dirty-sexy" could also fit in rather well on the soundtrack to some chrome-colored, probably set-in-space, futuristic sci-fi movie. How seemingly uncharacteristic of me, a person who normally feels alien to the sci-fi genre and anything set in the future times. I swear to you I don't have, like, a space kink or something; I guess a lot of future-sounding music just happens to be conveniently scrubbed of sentimentality and therefore makes for less distracting, more primal "getting it on" music in my mind.
8. "Electric Relaxation" by A Tribe Called Quest
This one contains some pretty damn ribald, NSFW lyrics, but it's more the sound that's sexy to me, the mood-lit-bedroom groove, plus it's pretty overtly about sex ("My mind was in a frenzy, in a horny state..."), so I thought of it when compiling this list. Oh, also it contains the line "It's got to do with lots of lovin', and it ain't nothin' nice," which is as good a tagline for a "Dirty-Sexy" playlist as any I've heard.
I was pleasantly surprised when I saw the video for the first time just now (so I could grab the link and share the song here) — on account of the song's frankly sexual lyrics, I'd feared the video would be a visual extravaganza of grinding bikini babes, but instead it's some low-key, black-and-white footage of NYC on a cold winter's day, the apparent love interest is all bundled up and in a knit cap (you can barely tell it's a chick), and the guys engage in their locker-room rap inside a very cozy-looking diner where folks all around them are having a good time being in from the cold. Not dirty-sexy, but definitely cool.
9. "This Shit Will Fuck You Up" by Combichrist
OK, admittedly this is more of a "stomp-dance in the club" one than a "sexy" song, and the person who thinks of this as a "song to make sweet love to" is perhaps the same person whose hobbies include a nice hotel-trashing and "mailbox baseball." You know, something destructive. But in my mind it fits the "dirty-sexy" label if only for the sex-bot lyrics, such as: "How do you want me? From behind? Or on my knees?" Which, let me tell you, are fun to dance/act out at the goth club after you've tied a few on.
10. "Tear You Apart" by She Wants Revenge
This is also one that I mostly prefer to dance dirty-sexy to. When you've had your fill of sweet, sensitive love songs, this one's a good antidote. Because sometimes you want something salty. It's got a sinister, back-alley-after-the-club vibe to it. Like, a "Let's make out by the Dumpsters" vibe.
"As I whisper in your ear: 'I want to fucking tear you apart.' " (Just as long as you don't mean that literally there, buddy, yikes!)
11. "Anything" by Danzig
Yes, Danzig. Shut up. Hear me out.
I will admit that the tone of this one is more like "the Devil is seducing you, and Glenn Danzig is his conduit." I'm sure this is intentional, what with the band's wacky Satanic flourishes in their lyrics and album art. (I remember the "Danzig II: Lucifuge" lyrics booklet from the CD opened up in the shape of an upside-down cross... derp!)
But if you don't believe that a Danzig song can be sexy — listen up to 1:24, when Danzig lets loose with his faux Southern-televangelist (credit to my high-school friend Sonya for this description) howl, and the song explodes in a rather satisfying climax.
12. "Take Me to Church" by Hozier
Yes, it's on the radio all the time, and piped into the JCPenney dressing room, and playing overhead as you browse the cereal aisle. Yes, it's overplayed. Yes, some of you find the lyrics pretentiously grandiose and awkwardly crammed into confines of the song's structure. I agree with all of this, and yet I don't care. I still like it, and the chorus is sexy ("Offer me that deathless death, and good god, let me give you my life"). And besides, what is combining religion + sex if not "dirty-sexy"? (Madonna says, "Amen!")
(I'm including the link to the David LaChapelle video in which Sergei Polunin emotes to the song via his ballet artistry, instead of a link to the official video, because I like the ballet one.)
13. "Justify My Love" by Madonna
I seem to dimly recall, from my late childhood, a whiff of scandal surrounding this song, but I can't remember why, and yes, I could Google it, but that would be straying too far from the point. ... OK, I just looked it up. Apparently the video was simply "too sexy," with bits of S&M, bisexuality, voyeurism, and other by-now-totally-vanilla stuff in it. What a quaint time in history that must have been!
I admit that I used to have fun filling in the blanks for this lyrics construction to be found in the beginning of the song: "I wanna ___ you in ___." (She sings, "I wanna kiss you in Paris... I wanna hold your hand in Rome..." I sang, "I wanna give you a noogie in Poughkeepsie... I wanna give you a 'wet willie' in Tuscaloosa...") But again, it's more the somehow-very-naughty-sounding — like porn you're really not supposed to see — illicit-feeling groove of this one that, for me, merits its inclusion here. (Although this line is a pretty good one: "Poor is the man whose pleasures depend on the permission of another." Madonna Dalai Lama!)
***At this point, we gradually segue into the "just plain sexy; not necessarily in a dirty way" portion of the playlist.***
14. "The Ubiquitous Mr. Lovegrove" by Dead Can Dance
I used to hear this at the goth club all the time but didn't know the name of it, or the band/musician. I used to think of it as: "that snake-charmer-sounding song that makes the goths at the club feel all sexy." Folks would come out of the woodwork to gyrate their black-clad hips when it came on... adorbs! This one will make you want to put on some black velvet belly-dancing outfit and grab a black veil to flutter about you on the dancefloor (yes, even if you're a dude).
15. "To Catch A Thief" by Lovage/Mike Patton
If you only know Mike Patton as "the Faith No More guy," you're really missing out. He's also the Mr. Bungle guy (among about a billion other side projects and bands he's been in)! (Check out Mr. Bungle's awesome "California" album, a jubilant cacophony of musical styles and instruments and Patton's myriad vocal personae, often caterwauling crazy things, punctuated by sober moments such as "Retrovertigo" and "Pink Cigarette.") I'm not sure a song that begins with a monologue about emotional maturity could ever fall squarely into a category called "dirty-sexy," but this one's got a fun, campy, tongue-in-cheek sexy quality to it, so I'm addin' it. (Also, hello — the album's called "Music to Make Love to Your Old Lady By." I can't not include it here, dirty or not.)
16. "Shadows of Ourselves" by Thievery Corporation
This one is inextricably bound up with sex in my mind because I first heard it playing during an episode of HBO's "Real Sex," a lighthearted series of mini documentaries, each of which contained segments focusing on folks who were enthusiastic about some kink or other. (This song played over footage of amateur porn filmmakers showcasing their work at some indie porn festival.) It's a bit too "hipster lounge" to be what I consider "dirty-sexy" (the video features bokeh and a vintage car, and a party full of beautiful bored people smoking, plus a dude filming everyone with a video camera, whom somehow no one finds creepy), but it deserves to be on any gettin'-it-on playlist, I think, so I'm including it here.
17. "The Fall" by Rhye
This one's a bit too smooth and suave to count as "dirty," but I would describe its vibe as definitely in the lovemakin' vein. Also, I belatedly found out that the singer is a dude after assuming it was a chick, so that's kind of cool, too, in a "smashing gender stereotypes" kinda way. (The "American Beauty"-type story in the music video is kind of annoying, but I like the quietly yearning ending with the dude riding off on his bicycle.)
18: "Venus As a Boy (Anglo American Extension Remix)" by Björk
The lyrics begin with: "His wicked sense of humor suggests exciting sex," and also include: "He's exploring the taste of her..." I prefer this remix (with blurred and blushing harp-like swoons, and a few swaggering bits of electric guitar) to the album version, which is punctuated by a sound I can best describe as "someone is rhythmically pounding on an alien's baby piano." There's an earnest emotionality in this version that I think might be lacking in the plucky yet more iconoclastic original.
BONUS! Shame on me. I put up this post, then thought of one more. I decided to go up to 20 because who doesn't like a nice round number?
19. "Undertow" by Lush
From the bass that means serious business to the water-as-sexy-metaphor motif, this one creates an insta-sexy atmosphere if you're in the market for such a thing. Hey, do you ever think, for the longest time, that the lyrics to a particular song say one thing... when really they're something else completely? And then you realize that your original interpretation probably reveals, Rorschach-ink-blot-style, something about you? I used to think part of the lyrics to this one said: "Lick your fingers, enter me..." or "Let your fingers enter me..." In reality they are the far more tame "Reach your fingers up to me." Oh my, to what roseate realms of fantasy had my mind strayed?!
20. "Alpha Male" by Röyksopp
This one takes a while to get started, but by about 2:11 it's morphed from sounding like the 1980s-era soundtrack to some show about Arthurian knights and into straight-up, no-holds-barred, sexytime music. This is also, shall we say, tried-and-tested, and has my coveted Christie Stamp of Approval.