The right soundtrack has the power to elevate sex from good to mind-boggling. But if you've ever hooked up with someone who put on what was obviously a meticulously-arranged "sex playlist", you also know that music has the potential to make your encounter a bit awkward. Here's how to achieve the former rather than the latter.
Illustration by Tara Jacoby.
Before we even get into picking the right jams, let's talk about why playing music during sex is a good idea. Quite simply, music adds a unique layer of stimulation. It invites another one of your senses to the party. Music can help us feel more connected to our bodies, and can make our movement feel more sensual. Music can also capture the different moods that can accompany sex: passion, anger, playfulness, intensity, romance, melancholy, and so on.
On a more practical level, music can drown out the weird squelches that often accompany sex, fill up any awkward silences, and prevent your roommate from hearing what you're doing.
What Makes for a Good Sex Song
When you're looking for potential songs for your playlists, consider your history with the song. Some songs evoke memories we don't necessarily want to get distracted by during sex (like that album you and your ex listened to all summer). You may also want to avoid "earworm" songs, or songs that you can't help but sing along to (unless you don't mind breaking into song in the middle of receiving oral). You're looking for songs that capture a certain mood for you and make you feel in tune with your sexy self.
How to Make a Playlist
Sex comes in all kinds of flavours, so it can be fun to make different playlists that capture unique moods for you. At the very least, you can make a "romantic sex" playlist and a "hot sex" playlist. Other than that, you're only constrained by how much time you want to spend on this. If you're feeling inspired, make a playlist for lazy Sunday, post-brunch sex. Or one for when your irresistible but batshit insane ex bootie calls you.
When it comes to actually playing your playlist, I'm an advocate for the shuffle function. I do think it's best to pick all of your songs because being subjected to a random Pandora or Spotify pick that you don't actually like can spoil the mood. But plotting out the exact order of your songs can make sex feel overly rehearsed, especially if you're sleeping with someone relatively new. You might feel pressured to time your hookup based on how you had envisioned it unfolding when you created the playlist. It also feels a little weird as the partner to know that someone has specifically arranged these tracks to listen to while they had sex with you.
Try out these Specific Recommendations
We love asking people for their favourite songs to have sex to. We got started on nine different playlists, broken down by genre.
R&B Slow Jams, with Maxwell, Cassie, and of course The Weeknd:
Hip Hop, because some of these songs are hilariously obvious:
Indie/Folk. Pretty guitars, melancholy melodies. The xx, Brazilian Girls, Little Dragon:
Electronic, with a classic from Lil Louis and some newer additions from Safeword and Perseus:
Chill/Dub/Ambient. Rhye, Junior Boys, and Caribou will slowly bring the heat:
Romantic. Sade, Sade, Sade. Do you need anything other than Sade?
Motown Classics, for that lazy Sunday afternoon sex:
80s/90s. Some oldies but goodies from Fiona Apple and Placebo:
Rock. Angry sex with NIN and the Deftones:
All of the playlists are collaborative, so open up Spotify and help us fill in the gaps by adding some of your favourite songs! Or, if you don't have Spotify, recommend your own favourites in the comments below.