There are words that I love and words that I hate. Puppy, quixotic, sconce, girth, totally love. The hated list is a little shorter: moist, salve, ointment, tuber, dump, also the term "little shit" when used to describe children, and for some reason the word sexy. I don't know why I hate it, it just seems overused and frivolous and fairly unimportant in the grand scheme of things. I hate seeing it written across the rear end of pink velour sweatpants on a 15 year old. I want to say, "Really? That's all you've got to offer? Aim higher, girl." I rarely say that a person is "sexy," because that seems shallow and not complex enough of a term to describe a whole person. When someone calls me "sexy" (it's happened about five times in 36 years) I just want to laugh and laugh. It's just so subjective , and makes me feel like a gangly teenager, it's silly.
But there's one setting where I don't feel awkward using that word, when I'm talking about music. Music, oh, music can be sexy. Music is alive and physical and gorgeous and it's one of the few places where people can unload all of their hunger, heartbreak, regret and longing into this throbbing, soaring or just plain dead sexy medium. I get why some conservative religions think that rock and roll is the devil's music. It can be deeply revealing and real and nasty this music, and not particularly nice. Especially when done right. So thanks for that, Mr. Devil.
Clearly not all music would be considered sexy. I'm not talking John Philip Sousa marches or fusion jazz, not to knock those two genres, maybe they do it for you. But I'm into a more rock and roll, indie melancholy, sad bastard "glass cage of emotion" type of sexy. The school of bad boy mistreated his lady and deeply regrets it by writing every song about her for the rest of his life. Or vice versa, there are as many ladies on this list as men.) Plus Elvis, Elvis is always sexy.
Sexy music, for me, has to have just the right combination of heated lyrics (even if they don't make logical sense, poetic vaguery is fine), lush, raw voices and obviously the actual music itself needs to have a yearning or an intensity that just gets to my core. And I don't think about music being specifically sexy at the beginning when I first listen, it just suddenly is, right there, creeping up behind me with it's tingly fingers on my neck.
Now send the kids out of the room, and enjoy this brief list I have compiled of songs that I hereby dub "sexy." This list is by no means comprehensive and is constantly evolving. Sorry, no Barry White, baby.
"Come on Home" and "The Dark of the Matinee" by Franz Ferdinand
"Last Goodbye" by Jeff Buckley
"Laundry Room" by The Avett Brothers -particularly this Tiny Desk Concert version. Aye, yi, yi.
"Right Hand Man" by Joan Osborne- please to ignore the cheesy 1990's video and pretend you've never ever heard the horrible "One of Us." Every song on her album Relish is better than that overplayed song.
"I Can't Make You Love Me" by Bonnie Raitt- I love Adele's cover of this song, but no one sings it better than Bonnie did. This song means something entirely different when sung by a 45 year old woman than when sung by a 20 year old girl.
Anything from the 1968 Elvis Comeback Special where he's wearing a skin tight black leather suit, but specifically his version of "That's All Right" and "So Glad You're Mine" - all bluesy wailing and lusty angst. Pretend he didn't die on the john.
The National, almost everything, ok, picking one, two, three, "Fake Empire", "All the Wine" and "Blood Buzz Ohio," God, I love their lead singer, Matt Berninger's voice.
"Wicked Game" by Chris Isaak, still sexy, always will be.
"Skinny Love" by Bon Iver
"I Want a Little Sugar in My Bowl" by Nina Simone- she has the kind of sultry, deep growl that just rolls over you like a steamy wave.
"The Moneymaker" by Rilo Kiley- yeah, it's probably about prostitution, but I still like it. A lot.
"When You Were Young" by The Killers- String ties don't do it for me, so ignore that part.
"Zero" and "Phenomena" by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs- mostly because I have a dirty girl crush on Karen O. She scares me. Shivers.
"Need You Tonight" by INXS- let's end with a classic. One of the first songs I can remember hearing as a kid and thinking, "That sounds dirty."
So what songs push your sexy buttons?
Now go take yourself a cold shower.
Here's the Spotify Playlist for your listening pleasure!