10 songs that celebrate sex and sensuality

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For many—depending on which hemisphere you’re currently in—it’s going to be a long, dark, cold winter. For those who are welcoming the summer months, you might also start to feel a chill, despite the rising sun. As new lockdown measures arrive to combat further waves of COVID-19, it looks as though physical and social interaction might, once again, be at risk.

Thankfully, we have music to help turn the heat up during such bleak times. As well as films that celebrate the art of seduction, there are a multitude of songs that recognise the importance of sex and sensuality.

Warm yourself up with these 10 tracks that examine the highs and lows of physical interaction.

1. George Michael, I Want Your Sex (1987)

Taken from Michael’s phenomenally successful debut solo album Faith, this track—which celebrates sex while wondering “What’s your definition of dirty, baby?”—became a top-five single around the world on its release. Featured on the Beverly Hills Cop II (1987) soundtrack, the song also had the dubious honour of winning the Golden Raspberry Award (Razzie) for ‘worst original song’. However, its harshest critic was possibly Michael himself, who ignored I Want Your Sex after its release and never performed it again after the Faith world tour.

2. Prince, I Love U in Me (1989)

While you could choose pretty much any song by Prince for its beautifully unbridled sensuality, this b-side to The Arms Of Orion taken from the Batman album is up there with the purple one’s sexiest-ever offerings. Recorded at Paisley Park (Prince’s private estate) around the summer of 1989, there’s a playfulness rather than straight-up raunch to I Love U in Me, though even for Prince, this is a candid composition. The harmonies, featuring Andy Allo, are utterly sublime.

3. Rosalía featuring Travis Scott, TKN (2020)

Like Prince before her, Rosalía’s songs are imbued with an effortless sensuality. For her second collaboration with Astroworld rapper Scott, the lyrics of this TikTok favourite are a little more intentional as the pair muse on what the other might have to offer between the sheets. Quite what TKN stands for—taken or perhaps Tekken—neither artist has yet specified, but we love this song and can’t wait to hear more from this dynamic duo.

4. D’Angelo, Untitled (How Does it Feel) (2000)

The video, the lyrics, the vocals, the video—did we mention the video? Possibly the sexiest song ever sung, written by D’Angelo and Raphael Saadiq, this was the lead single from D’Angelo’s celebrated second album, Voodoo. Heavily indebted to Prince, Untitled won the Grammy for best R&B male vocal performance, but the video (did we mention the video?) featuring a naked D’Angelo ultimately superseded the song, reducing its singer to sex symbol and turning him into a recluse. It would be 14 years before he would release another album, Black Messiah (2014).

5. Fletcher, Undrunk (2019)

Hailing from New Jersey, this singer-songwriter reflects on something many of us can relate to: returning to the scene of the crime. Taken from the 26-year-old’s 2019 EP you ruined new york city for me, she manages to squeeze in masturbation, sex with an ex-girlfriend and getting absolutely wasted across just three minutes of songwriting. It’s as rock’n’roll as you like, and we’re here for it. However, it seems as though Fletcher has yet to learn her lesson if her most recent offering The S(ex) Tapes is anything to go by.

6. Cardi B featuring Megan Thee Stallion, WAP (2020)

An obvious choice, yes, but a list about sex songs would not be complete without this offering from New York’s Cardi B and Houston’s Megan Thee Stallion. Causing a furore when it dropped, WAP’s jubilantly sex-positive message has been endlessly dissected, yet one thing remains certain: it’s undoubtedly the song of 2020.

7. Khia, My Neck, My Back (Lick It) (2002)

Until WAP shook 2020 to its puritanical core, the winner for the rudest song ever might be this three minutes and 30 second single from Philadelphia-born rapper, Khia. Eclipsing everything else on her debut album Thug Misses (2001), so explicit were Khia’s references that the highly instructional missive had to be heavily edited for radio. The song’s cultural impact continues; Miley Cyrus performed a live cover in 2015 while California rapper Saweetie’s remix, Icy Grl, has racked up more than 100m views on YouTube since its release in 2017.

8. Troye Sivan, Bloom (2018)

Hidden behind a humongous horticultural metaphor is this steamy song about first-time sex from Australian singer, actor and YouTuber Troye Sivan. The man himself has previously described the track as “the most subversively queer” song found on his second album, also titled Bloom. Cut through the nature chat and you’ll see it’s an ode to Sivan losing his virginity to a potential new lover, as he sings, “Tell me right before it goes down / Promise me you’ll hold my hand if I get scared now.”

9. Rihanna, Kiss It Better (2016)

There are a couple of strong contenders from Rihanna—Sex with Me and Cockiness (Love It) spring to mind—but this offering from RiRi’s criminally underrated (and most recent) album just about stands apart from the rest. This conciliatory song is quietly powerful yet ardently feminist as Rihanna agrees to a make-up session as long as her partner can “keep me up all night”. A brilliant (if not subdued) choice to close her Anti World Tour, the track has been covered by everyone from indie rocker Father John Misty to Miguel.

10. Ariana Grande featuring Nicki Minaj, Side To Side (2017)

Co-written by several writers including Grande and Savan Kotecha, and featuring a particularly exuberant Minaj, this track is essentially a song about sex so, well, energetic, that Ari finds herself walking wonky the next day. The video, directed by Hannah Lux Davis and set in a sauna is suitably steamy, too.

Also read:

How musicians are connecting with their fans during the global crisis and what we can all learn from it

5 breakout bedroom pop stars on how they survived and thrived in 2020

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