tagReviews & EssaysLove Songs that are Really Sexual

Love Songs that are Really Sexual


If you had to try, how many euphemisms can you come up with to describe the dirty dirty? And could you put it to music and make it catchy, too?

Pop music has always commonly featured saucy subject matter, and the range is pretty wide. Some are more obvious than others, like "Wicked Game," "She Shook Me All Night Long, and "Love Game." But I thought it would be fun to point out those songs that really do sound like love songs both sweet and fun, but are, in fact, all about gettin' it on.

Here are some of them, in chronological order.

Drive My Car (1966) -- The Beatles

Why you might think it's a love song:

Probably this line at the end of the chorus: "Maybe I'll love you."

Why it's definitely, totally about sex:

McCartney has said so. He observes that "drive my car" is an old, blues euphemism for sex. In fact, many of the Beatles over the years have admitted that many of their songs are actually quite dirty. Even "Come Together," which was intended to be a protest song, nevertheless features Lennon's heavy breathing during the bridge, followed by an orgasmic groan at the end -- hardly an accident. And the line, "She's a big teaser" in "Day Tripper" is said to have originally been "She's a prick teaser." The Beatles must have seen the popularity of the boyish romp, "Hanky Panky," and just copied that, because all they seem to sing about is how to find a pretty girl and get into her pants.

Hottest Lyric:

The title lyric is pretty good, but so is this -

"But I can show you a better time..."

Mama Mia (1975) -- ABBA

Why you might think it's a love song:

There are plenty of lovesick images ("brokenhearted," "blue," etc), and a relationship that is talked about like it is serious. It seems like it might just be about a girl who misses her ex, despite how he treated her.

Why it is definitely, totally about sex:

The line, "Just one look and I can hear a bell ring," is an obvious sexual metaphor for orgasm. The bell refers both to the head of the penis, and also to the clitoris, with the "ringing" effectively meaning orgasm for either. Bell also refers sometimes to the hymen, having a long tradition in religion as a metaphor for consummation, though I'm not sure ABBA meant it that way. The metaphor was used to great effect in the funk-pop song, "Ring My Bell," for example.

But be sure of one thing, the real story of "Mama Mia" is simply this: Whatever happened before in the relationship, and despite whether the man loves her back, he makes her really fucking horny. Maybe she loves him, but it really doesn't matter because she loses control whenever he's around. It's very physical ("Does it show again?" and "Just one look..."). When you take into account the energy of the music, this song makes for a very powerful expression of feminine sexuality (also a very relevant topic when this song came out).

Hottest lyric:

"Just one look and I can hear a bell ring" and "My my, how can I resist you?"

Do That To Me Once Again (1979) -- Captain & Tennille

Why you might think it's a love song:

It has the sound and lyrics of many of the 80's love songs that followed. The second verse also references talking ("tell it to me one more time..."), and what is sexy at all about talking? Gotta be a romance song, right?

Why it's definitely, totally about sex:

The title contains the words DO THAT TO ME. Yup, it's totally about makin' a woman come. It might also be romantic sex, but sex nonetheless. There's nothing else a guy could do for a girl that would make her sing like this, let's be honest. I'm sure if I was to go through all the love songs of the 80's, I might find that this is a trend.

Hottest lyric:

"Once is never enough with a man like you..."

I Just Died In Your Arms Tonight (1986) -- Cutting Crew

Why you might think it's a love song:

On top of the soft, symphonic music, the first part of the song's lyrics seems to echo some vaguely romantic setting. "Broken hearts lie all around me," "Her diary sits on the bedside table," and "It must have been some kind of kiss." All very romantic stuff, right?

Why it's definitely, totally about sex:

According to The Billboard Book of Number One Hits, writer Nick Van Eade thought of the title to the song while he was having sex with his girlfriend. No, seriously.

It refers to the French phrase, "un petite mort," which means, "the little death." It's another way of describing the moment of orgasm, and every soccer mom that has this song playing on the iPod in the kitchen probably hasn't got a clue. Or maybe they do.

Hottest lyric:

It was a long hot night she made it easy
She made it feel right

Sledgehammer (1986) -- Peter Gabriel

Why you might think it's a love song:

If you've only heard the song once while you were at the laundry mat and didn't pay much attention to the lyrics, you'd probably think it was simply a song about a guy who wants the chance to prove that he can make a particular woman happy. He does everything just short of offering to lasso the moon, as the old cliché goes. "You could have a steam train..." he sings. "I'll be anything you need."

Why it's definitely, totally about sex:

Actually, when you read the lyrics, it's pretty darn obvious. Every line -- and I mean every one -- is a tongue-in-cheek metaphor for sex. That train, like the famous last shot of Hitchcock's North by Northwest, is totally a metaphor for a penis.

In fact, Peter Gabriel has so much fun using every sexual innuendo he can think of, he even slips a little Meta commentary into the song with, "This amusement never ends." He just wants to get laid, and that's it. Seriously. Anytime you hear in a song the phrase, "I'll be anything you need," it's safe to assume that it's a seduction song (especially if it's a guy singing -- Leonard Cohen's "I'm Your Man," for example).

Hottest lyric:

There's too many to choose from, but this is the one that brings it home:

"I've been feeding the rhythm

Going to feel that power build in you"

Honorable Mention: Semi-Charmed Life (1997) -- Third Eye Blind

While the rest of these have been sexual songs that sound like love songs, this is a song that has the reverse problem: it is seen as a song about sex and drugs, but is actually kind of a love song. The lyrics are as sophisticated as they come, and they tell a very compelling story in an unusual way. When you read them, I'll bet you'll never think of 90's pop the same way, either.

It's only regarded as a song about drugs and sex by people who have actually read the lyrics. To most people, though, it is about the bitter-sweet, self-deprecating yet tragically hopeful outlook that typified the 90's. It also has the sound of the 90's, and few songs embody the ethos of 90's pop as effectively.

The song is definitely about sex, to be sure, and it is quite graphic. From the first verse, we get lines like "She comes round and she goes down on me," and "coming over you." Later, it is even more graphic, and even when it is being serious, it does so always with a double entendre.

The interesting thing is that the narrator is not making an original statement in the chorus, but is actually quoting the girl he just slept with, who had this to say of their casual affair: "I want something else..." The second verse is more about his addiction to meth, but it comes back around to, "How do I get back there to the place where I fell asleep inside you." More than a sexual innuendo, it also doubles as an image of maternal sanctuary, like the line "you're the priestess, I must confess." Like most addicts, his problem is a lack of coping skills.

What happens, I think, is he goes from having a sex addiction to actually falling in love with a girl who's just as fucked up as he is. He starts to realize it with "And you hold me / And we're broken." But he can't believe that it's love: "She's got her jaws now locked down in a smile / But nothing is alright."

The key is in the bridge. When he talks about feeling sand beneath his toes, and a faith that grows (again with the sexual innuendo), he acknowledges a belief that it is possible to be happy, and to feel something like love -- even if he does confuse love with lust. In the end, when he sings the chorus, he is not quoting the girl, but is stating it for himself. He believes it now.

The ending is left ambiguous: "Not listening when you say / Good-bye." Who he is saying bye to is sort of a mystery. But being a romantic, I think it means she left him (possibly because she, also being a sex addict, couldn't cope just yet).

So yes, I think this is a love song. A twisted and tragic sort of love song, but a love song nonetheless.

Hottest lyrics:

"Those little red panties they pass the test
Slide up around the belly, face down on the mattress"

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