why james blake turns you on.

04 21 20 — Arts

Why some musical artists can consistently nail...getting nailed.

Now, we already know that music can work as an aphrodisiac—much like oysters, on occasion chicken, and even foreplay itself. According to a popular 2012 Spotify study, this has to do with the ways music can release dopamine in the brain. It’s often a matter of nostalgia — of the pleasant associations that come tied in with hearing certain tracks (hence: the overwhelming popularity of the Dirty Dancing soundtrack as a “mood-booster).

But here, we’re getting at something of a slightly different nature. We’re not addressing the songs that conjure images of iconic cinematic affairs, nor are we referencing top-40 hits with lewd, sexual lyrics. Instead, we’re contemplating the tracks that evince instant sex appeal, from their very first stream, lyrics aside. So yes, we mean James Blake. But also: Frank Ocean, RY X, and so many others

While no declarative studies have addressed the intrinsic “sexiness” of specific songs directly, plenty of music journalists and bloggers have taken a stab. For some, it’s described as a question of tension. All that falsetto—the high, smooth, sensual vocal tracks, overlaid with throbbing (yes, throbbing) bass-heavy licks implies a duality. The contrast is a bit like the give and take—the opposing forces—at play in, you guessed it, sex. 

Others have posited that the sultry quality comes from withholding. Both lyrically and rhythmically, plenty of our go-to vibey tracks skew more foreplay than they do climax. But, naturally, the slow and steady rhythmic progressions, the slight rises in speed, and the ever-increasing quantities of expressive vocal passion can, umm, rev our engines a bit. The sex appeal is derived from what doesn’t occur on air. 

Beyond that, it’s often noted that EDM tracks serve as excellent pump-up tunes because they match our heart rates, before accelerating rhythmically. Then, along with the beat, our heart rates rise as well. While this isn’t necessarily the case with all of James Blake’s singles (few of which are designed for moshing), it’s worth acknowledging that many of these sultrier tunes operate according to a human rhythm: a heartbeat — something we can feel, almost immediately, within our own bodies. 

Feeling inspired? We are giving you a head start. Check out maude’s archive of mood-making playlists.