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Iconic sex anthems

Iconic Sex Anthems

From Etta James to Lonely Island.

You see, unlike with small talk or, say, dating app banter, music allows for a certain brash, unfiltered form of candor—especially concerning sex. And while social decorum has long forbidden us from approaching our conquests unsolicited and declaring things like “sex with me is amazing” (Rihanna), it would seem that musical artists do indeed have a unique platform for laying it all out on the table. And therein lies the appeal: Beyond, you know, the general sensory appeal of listening to music, the medium also operates as a space for folks to verbalize truths and desires sans fear of judgment. And for listeners, it’s affirming to see those impulses honored. 

Of course, the last century has provided any number of iconic sex anthems—be they songs explicitly about sex, or songs that are so sexy it’s hard not to feel your libido rising when they come on (looking at you, James Blake). The roster is versatile: Some tracks play important roles in the zeitgeist (perhaps you, like me, promptly streamed “I Just Had Sex” by The Lonely Island after losing your virginity) while some play more innocuously at weddings and bar mitzvah parties. 

All the same, the musical powers-that-be have spent the last hundred-or-so years producing an eclectic, expansive, oft-raunchy library of storied sex anthems. So, after much-heated debate, outreach, and tense deliberation, we’ve selected our top 30 (in no particular order): 

The Earnest Classics:
Feel good hits about...feeling good –– most of which are far raunchier than you might’ve realized when you were blasting ‘em at your nana’s retirement party.

  • “Sexual Healing” by Marvin Gaye
  • “I Just Wanna Make Love To You” by Etta James
  • "No Diggity" by Blackstreet featuring Dr. Dre
  • “Anytime, Any Place” by Janet Jackson
  • “Love To Love You Baby” by Donna Summer
  • “Erotic City” by Prince
  • “Untitled (How Does It Feel)” by D’Angelo
  • “Like A Virgin” by Madonna
  • “Afternoon Delight” by Starland Vocal Band
  • “Need You Tonight” by INXS
  • “Pour Some Sugar On Me” by Def Leppard
  • “I’ll Make Love To You” by Boyz II Men
  • “Use Me” by Bill Withers
  • “Red Light Special” by TLC

The Deep Cuts: 
Sex anthems….but make them “indie.”

  • “Lights Please” by J. Cole
  • “Retrograde” by James Blake
  • “Sugar We’re Goin’ Down” by Fall Out Boy
  • “Leisure Suite” by Feist
  • “My Band” by D12
  • “Cold Sweat” by Tinashe
  • “Criminal” by Fiona Apple
  • “Fade Into You” by Mazzy Star
  • “Electric Feel” by MGMT
  • “When You’re Smiling And Astride Me” by Father John Misty
  • “Sledgehammer” by Peter Gabriel

The Top 40 Tracks:
The chart-topping, ultra-catchy, contemporary radio mainstays are designed to get you all hot and bothered when you’re out at night. Or, ya know, stuck in traffic with the radio on.

  • “Climax” by Usher
  • “Birthday Sex” by Jeremih
  • “Sex With Me” by Rihanna
  • “Me & U” by Cassy
  • “2 Become 1” by The Spice Girls
  • “I Just Had Sex” by The Lonely Island
  • “I Wanna F*ck You” by Akon
  • “Best I Ever Had” by Drake
  • “Positions” by Ariana Grande
  • “Rocket” by Beyoncé
  • “Earned It” by The Weeknd
  • “Slow Motion” by Trey Songz
  • “Lady Marmalade” by Christina Aguileira
  • “Sexy Can I?” by Ray J
  • “Work It” by Missy Elliot
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