Creating the proper musical accompaniment for a romantic evening is every bit as critical as washing the sheets. The wrong songs could send your potential bedmate trooping out into the night, while a well-considered playlist can help set just the right vibe. You don’t want to be the guy cluelessly streaming free Spotify or Pandora, getting assaulted by mood-ruining ads for a local community college or the new Imagine Dragons album every 10 minutes, do you? Herewith, some essential rules for constructing the ultimate “sexxxy” playlist:
“For me, it’s a lot of Frank Ocean, the Knife, Zola Jesus, the National — basically, the same songs you’d play if you suffer from chronic depression,” says comedian Whitney Cummings. “The hardest part is naming it so it’s not just called ‘Sex Mix’ on your computer.”
For Channing Tatum, who has been widely linked to a bump-and-grind-y YouTube collection, “2014 Sex Songs Mix Bedroom Magic,” it’s likely Chris Brown, Ludacris, and Trey Songz. And for Katy Perry, it’s all about the classics: “Marvin Gaye and Jeff Buckley,” she has said, adding that she’s also addicted to the raunchy bedroom throb of the Weeknd’s “Often.”
“That song is entirely about getting head from a dude,” raves Sarah Lewitinn, also known as Ultragrrrl, a New York City music director for Aritzia. “Basically, the Weeknd is the new Prince, the new R. Kelly. You really can’t go wrong.”
One of the advantages of living in a society where someone, somewhere, is always listening, is that we no longer have to wonder how our between-the-sheets playlists compare to everyone else’s; that’s what Spotify is for. The streaming giant recently revealed the tracks most commonly included in its 2.5 million user-created sex playlists. “Intro”, the moody instrumental by the XX, claimed the number one spot. (“They should just rename that band XXX,” cracks Cummings.) Also in the top 10 were songs by Coldplay, Chet Faker, and Hozier. “That’s disturbing,” says Melissa, a 24-year-old fashion buyer. “I don’t want someone thrusting into me while Hozier sings, ‘Take me to church.’ It’s just not right.”
The “right” mix generally depends on the woman in question. “If a guy just went for it and put on Beyoncé’s album, I’d ride him like a surfboard,” enthuses Melissa, while Lewitinn views that particular choice as sending a questionable signal about a man’s orientation. Genevieve, 25, who works in retail, prefers to have sex “while listening to something gangsta — J. Cole, Too $hort, Rick Ross, Mac Dre, Ja Rule. I could do that for the rest of my life and be totally content.” She still feels a special invigoration whenever she hears the Wu-Tang Clan, as it brings back fond, multiorgasmic memories of an afternoon spent vigorously copulating to three albums’ worth of the Wu. But such old-school boom-bappery doesn’t do it for Cummings: “Most rap is a pretty big no-no for me, because it’s all about bitches and hos. Also, obviously you want me to go at a speed that is going to hurt my back.”
Hey, you can’t please everyone! Fortunately, there’s basic agreement on sex-playlist guidelines: Plan for two distinct phases. The ideal playlist accounts for foreplay and the main event. Kick it off with something “soothing and vibe-y,” Melissa advises. Think Drake or Kendrick Lamar. “Then, as things heat up, it gets more sensual, more bass-y.” (Hint: That’s when you segue to the new D’Angelo album.)
Don’t play anything too distracting. “The music should be a complement, not a distraction,” Lewitinn says. This means no songs with a lot of nostalgic significance. “You don’t want halfway through sex for me to be like, ‘Oh, shit! This was my jam!’” Cummings says. “No Montell Jordan’s ‘This Is How We Do It.’ One time a guy put on Spotify with me and ‘No Diggity’ came on, and I could not stop laughing, because in high school that was my anthem.”
Maintain a steady rhythm. “Keep it all generally the same tempo,” Cummings says. “If you jump right from Beck to Nine Inch Nails, I’m going to feel pressure to change our tempo.”
Don’t make your playlist too long. Thirty to 45 minutes is fine, unless you’re aiming for some kind of Sting-style tantric-sex marathon (even if you are, never play Sting’s solo albums during sex; it’s a scientific fact that your penis will recede back into your body). “Just to be safe, the last 10 minutes should be a little more subtle. I’m way more worried about an intense song ruining my after-sex relaxation than a slower song coming on in the middle of having sex, because I probably won’t notice that anyway,” Melissa adds.
Don’t skip music in favor of ill-considered background TV. “One time I had sex with a guy while Family Guy was on, and they were singing that song ‘You Have Full-Blown AIDS,’” recalls Lewitinn. “Not cool.”
Bottom line: Just pay attention. If she’s not feeling that LCD Soundsystem remix or Notorious B.I.G. mash-up for whatever reason, just grab your phone off the nightstand and skip it. “It’s a lot like the feeling-out process in an MMA fight: Does she want to keep this standing up, or take it to the ground?” muses Nick, a 35-year-old writer who enjoys a formidable track record in the bedroom.
“When it comes time to push play and go at it, there’s not a chance your mix will exactly match the act itself. But you’re still getting laid, right? If anyone ever stopped banging you and blamed the mix — I hate to break it to you, dude, but it probably wasn’t the mix.” Cummings agrees. “After all, if you rely too much on music, maybe you just need to get better at sex.” ■
For the full article grab the September 2015 issue of MAXIM Australia.
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