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The 50 Sexiest Songs of All Time

August 29, 2013  |  11:40am
The 50 Sexiest Songs of All Time
25. “Kiss,” Prince (1986)

Knowing that women are only half-serious when they say they’re looking for a man with a sense of humor, his Royal Badness shows off his, ahem, funny bone on this 1986 hit, which boasts the greatest music video of all time (this has been scientifically proven). He also understands that expectations of men’s and women’s sexuality too often get in the way of actually getting it on. “You don’t have to watch Dynasty to have an attitude,” sings the man who doesn’t even have to use a bassline to make a superlatively sexy jam.—Stephen M. Deusner

24. “Bang a Gong (Get It On),” T. Rex (1971)

That driving riff—which Marc Bolan admitted to lifting from Chuck Berry’s “Little Queenie”—paired with the singer’s sexy declarations like “you’re dirty, sweet and you’re my girl” and “take me!” is enough to make anyone with a pulse want to bang more than just a gong. (...I’ll show myself out.)—Bonnie Stiernberg

23. “I Want a Little Sugar in My Bowl,” Nina Simone (1967)

Nina Simone’s reimagination of Bessie Smith’s 1931 blues song “Need A Little Sugar in My Bowl” (also a highly recommended track) ditches some of the original’s goofier double-entrendres like “I need a little hot dog on my roll.” It’s a little less bawdy, but somehow that smooth refinement only makes the song sexier.—Bonnie Stiernberg

22. “Ball & Biscuit,” The White Stripes (2003)

Nothing in rock is sexier than a lip-curling blues guitar solo, and few modern-day rippers are more well-versed in this fine art than Jack White. From The White Stripes to The Raconteurs to The Dead Weather to his solo work, his catalog of shreddage is extensive, but Elephant’s “Ball & Biscuit” might be his most elemental take on electrified blues. Backed by only a simple drum beat (we’re talking about Meg White here), White spends the song’s 7:19 making his case lyrically to the object of his desire (“Let’s have a ball and a biscuit, sugar / And take our sweet little time about it”), before putting the nail in the coffin time and time again with emphatic section after emphatic section of squealing, virtuosic guitar work.—Ryan Bort

21. “Night Moves,” Bob Seger (1976)

There are plenty of songs devoted to young love, but Seger instead turns his attention to young lust. “We weren’t in love, oh no far from it / We weren’t searching for some pie in the sky summit,” he sings. “We were just young and restless and bored / Living by the sword / And we’d steal away every chance we could / To the backroom, the alley, the trusty woods / I used her, she used me, but neither one cared / We were getting our share.” The catch is he handles it with the same kind of lovely melody and nostalgia-laced lyrics usually reserved for the finest romance tunes—so much so that, reminded of the magic of those first teenage fumbles, you’ll want to grab whoever’s close-by and brush up on those night moves. Practice makes perfect, right?—Bonnie Stiernberg

20. “I Just Want to Make Love to You,” Etta James (1961)

Etta James was blessed with the kind of gritty voice that could fill up this list on its own, but since we can’t do that, let’s start with “I Just Want to Make Love to You.” This Muddy Waters cover was the B-side to “At Last,” serving as the ultimate wedding song’s naughtier cousin.—Bonnie Stiernberg

19. “Tom Cat,” Muddy Waters (1968)

It’s a crime against sexiness that we can only choose one song from Muddy Waters’ lone foray into electrified blues rock, Electric Mud, but spread the wealth we must. Amped-up songs like “Mannish Boy,” “She’s Alright” and “I Just Want To Make Love To You” see Muddy bringing it in the form of monstrous guitar work, but on “Tom Cat” the seduction is more understated. He opts instead to playfully toy with his pedals, providing a sultry backdrop for lyrics that drip with sexuality. First singing, “I’m just a tom cat and you’s my kitten / And I’m just sittin’ here licking my paws,” he later warns about biting with his fangs and making his “midnight pound.” Um, yeah…—Ryan Bort

18. “Ignition (Remix),” R. Kelly (2003)

Some songs sound sexy. Some songs feel sexy. Some songs suggest sexy. R. Kelly’s “Ignition” remix IS sexy. I mean, have you heard it? Do I really need to explain what’s sexy about this song? There’s white fur coats, there’s hot and fresh out the kitchen, there’s bounce bounce bounce, there’s trying to get you to-a-ho-a-tel, there’s coke, rum and Cristal, there’s catering, there’s stretch Navigators and, of course, there’s the hotel lobby after the after party. All the elements of sexy are there. Just press play and let the pheromones do their thing.—Ryan Bort

17. “When a Man Loves a Woman,” Percy Sledge (1966)

When a man loves a woman, one thing usually leads to another, and this passionate Percy Sledge hit—while insanely romantic—is also a pretty solid soundtrack for late-night lovefests. Its lyrics were improvised by Sledge during the recording session at FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Ala., and legend has it they poured out of him with such ease that everyone was convinced he’d written them down somewhere.—Bonnie Stiernberg

16. “Voodoo Chile,” The Jimi Hendrix Experience (1968)

Any song that features Jimi Hendrix playing a guitar is going to be sexy, but “Voodoo Chile” is an entire sexual odyssey in and of itself. At exactly 15 minutes long, you could probably even choreograph a lovemaking session to unfold in harmony with Jimi’s ebbing and flowing and building and, ultimately, climaxing guitar work. Bonus points if it’s a sweltering summer night somewhere on the Bayou. Preach that voodoo.—Ryan Bort

15. “Untitled (How Does It Feel),” D’Angelo (2000)

The song needs no title because it entrances and alters every song that came prior. Serious Voodoo: 60 minutes of muggy grooves and wayward funk, the blazed and the blessed coming together and praying for strength amid aimless endless nights of jealousy, temptation and crippling despair. “Untitled” casts a spell potent enough to turn that hour of deeply troubled soul into a ritualistic prelude, the drugs and thugs and heat and grease becoming elements of a mating dance, finally building to a peak of sexual release conceived with about as much subtlety as Marvin’s Exhibit A. “What happens when the artist becomes the conjur man?” asked poet Saul Williams in Voodoo’s original liner notes. Another rhetorical question: we get one of the rare modern tracks likely to have made Prince mutter an envious God-daaaamn. “Untitled” jarringly cuts off into a last woozy morning dream, and after that, D. was gone.—Nathan Huffstutter

14. “That’s Where It’s At,” Sam Cooke (1964)

You know that song you’ve always wanted to make out to but haven’t yet because you’re afraid of wasting its sexy perfection on anyone less than your soulmate? No? That’s a thing only crazy people do? Oh. Well, this is awkward.—Bonnie Stiernberg

13. “These Arms of Mine,” Otis Redding (1962)

Anyone who’s seen Dirty Dancing (or Roadhouse for that matter—the Swayze-Redding connection runs deep) knows that when you put “These Arms of Mine” on late at night with a girl in the room, you mean business. That’s because Otis is absolutely yearning and burning—like the spot of skin where the one you’re pining over brushes your arm and their touch lingers, or the heat that rushes to your face as you try to play it cool—on this stunner.—Bonnie Stiernberg

12. “Whole Lotta Love,” Led Zeppelin (1969)

Donna Summer had the best female orgasm in pop history, but over in the male division, Robert Plant comes first. This track off Zep’s ’69 sophomore album may be the apex of rock-and-roll single entendre, and the bridge may sound like a leprechaun orgy, but “Whole Lotta Love” gets a whole lotta sexy thanks to Jimmy Page’s thinking-about-baseball riff, John Bonham’s sleaze-cymbals and Plant having rough sex with your speakers.—Stephen M. Deusner

11. “Tonight’s The Night,” Solomon Burke (1965)

Burke’s dulcet vocals are in top form here as he urges you to lock the door, take the phone off the hook and enjoy a little, ahem, quality time. And if for some odd reason—say, your nether parts are made of stone—that doesn’t get you going, the positively naughty-sounding guitar will.—Bonnie Stiernberg

10. “Je T’aime…Moi Non Plus,” Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin (1969)

How did a jug-eared, chain-smoking Frenchman with a slightly lazy eye and a prominent proboscis bed such lovelies as Brigitte Bardot, France Gall and Jane Birkin? By writing smoky, velvety anthems like this. This pop gem was so nice Serge Gainsbourg recorded it twice; once with Bardot in 1967 during a session that apparently involved some heavy petting in the recording booth (this version wasn’t released until 1986), and again a year later with Birkin. The reverberations of the give and take between the male and female vocalists on the original are still being felt, with everyone from Nick Cave to Cat Power putting their own spin on this sultry number.—Robert Ham

9. “Love Serenade,” Barry White (1975)

I’m a full-grown, hetero male who’s been married to a beautiful woman for many years now, but when Barry White sings, “Take off your brassiere, dear,” I instinctively reach behind my back to find the clasp.—Stephen M. Deusner

8. “Love and Happiness,” Al Green (1972)

Sexiness and Al Green are pretty much synonymous. We could have probably put 20 of his songs on this list and no one would have argued with us. But “Love and Happiness,” the hit single from 1972’s I’m Still In Love With You, might have been Arkansan’s greatest song, if for nothing else than for that signature opening guitar lick and the organ that kicks the song into gear after 30 seconds of Green sweetly crooning. Time to get it on.—Ryan Bort

7. “Love To Love You Baby,” Donna Summer (1975)

With her untimely passing last year, we’re never going to really know for certain whether Donna Summer’s orgasmic moans were authentic or, as she told VH1, the result of envisioning herself as Marilyn Monroe in ecstasy. Whatever you want to believe, the disco diva does an amazing job of cranking up the heat on one of Giorgio Moroder’s most understated and slinky grooves. If you’ve never had the pleasure, serve yourself up the full 17-minute version of this song (it serves as the title track of Summer’s 1975 album and takes up the entire A-side). Even when Summer’s not singing and coaxing delicious groans from her person, the melting string lines and steady shuffle of the drums are enough to keep you in the mood.—Robert Ham

6. “Use Me,” Bill Withers (1972)

That funky clavinet groove is enough to warrant this song’s inclusion on this list on its own, but when you toss in lines like “I wanna spread the news that if it feels this good being used / You just keep on using me until you use me up,” we’re really left with no choice but to bump it up to the top 10. Dysfunction never sounded so good.—Bonnie Stiernberg

5. “Wicked Game,” Chris Isaak (1989)

The patience of that tactile Stratocaster lead, controlled tremolo teasing the sympathetic nervous system while lingering fingertips play slowly down the fretboard. The borderline of fantasy. The singer himself a stranger from a different era, still young and unknown and knowing how to tilt his head just so. The catch in his voice, tapping into Orbison and The King without a wink of camp or caricature. That high lonesome call, desert-wounded and seeking response. No I… want to fall in love… with you. Never fails.—Nathan Huffstutter

4. “Tell Me Something Good,” Rufus and Chaka Khan (1974)

It’s not quite a “bow-chika-wow-wow,” but the groove of “Tell Me Something Good” comes awfully close. Take that funky bass, add a talk-box, some heavy breathing and Chaka Khan purring Stevie Wonder-penned lyrics like “I’ll make you wish there was 48 hours to each day,” “I got something that will sho’ ‘nuff set your stuff on fire” and “what I got to give will knock your pride aside,” and not much is left to the imagination. We’re all ears.—Bonnie Stiernberg

3. “Darling Nikki,” Prince (1984)

U can easily come up with a dozen sexy songs from the man who calls himself Prince, but this one is about as raw and blatantly sexual as they come. Of course back in 1985, “Darling Nikki” got Tipper Gore and the PMRC’s panties in a bunch. Just a few lines in and we meet Nikki, a sex fiend who’s found masturbating with a magazine. From there Nikki starts to grind—and that word sends the song into its orgasmic chorus. Not surprising the song’s been covered by everyone from the Foo Fighters to Rhianna. But it’s the original that will keep you coming back for more.—Mark Lore

2. “I’m On Fire,” Bruce Springsteen (1985)

By the time “I’m On Fire” was released as a single in February of 1985, Bruce Springsteen had himself become a bonafide sex symbol (a turnoff to many longtime fans). I can’t think of many songs that build up this much sexual tension, with its slinky guitar line and lyrics that hint at an adulterous affair, but never quite divulge whether or not it’s carried out. And, as only the Boss can do, we experience this infatuous fantasy with the narrator: “At night I wake up with the sheets soaking wet and a freight train running through the middle of my head.” Who needs a cold shower?—Mark Lore

1. “Let’s Get It On,” Marvin Gaye (1973)

There’s a reason this song inspired this list. If you were born in 1974 after March (nine months after that now-iconic wah-wah intro started slinking its way through speakers), you were most certainly conceived to this track. And guess what? If you entered the world in any of the subsequent years—from the mid-’70s right up to yesterday—there’s still a pretty big chance it was because of this song. That is the power of “Let’s Get It On”: Its simple plea—simultaneously romantic and randy when delivered by the cosmically talented Marvin Gaye—is timeless. It’s hard to argue with “if you believe in love, let’s get it on”...and why would you want to?—Bonnie Stiernberg

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