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The 50 Sexiest Songs of All Time

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Yesterday we celebrated the 40th anniversary of Marvin Gaye’s legendary Let’s Get It On album—a record packed with sex jams like “You Sure Love to Ball,” “Keep Gettin’ It On,” and of course its inescapable title track. To pay tribute to the seductive singer and his timeless hit, we’re counting down the 50 Sexiest Songs of All Time.

Of course, sexiness is in the eye of the beholder, and there’s a lot of accounting for taste here. Our picks span a variety of eras, genres and styles—and while some are more overtly sexual than others, they all make us weak in the knees. To keep this from being a list of Prince and Al Green songs, we’ve limited ourselves to a maximum two tracks per artist. So queue up the playlist we’ve compiled, hang a sock on your doorknob, do whatever you need to do…and be sure to tell us all the sensual songs we forgot about in the comments section below.

50. “Make it Wit Chu,” Queens of the Stone Age (2007)
The same band that wrote the be-all, end-all tribute to drug culture with “Feel Good Hit of the Summer” primed a steaming zipper-shifter of a sex jam years later with “Make It Wit Chu.” With a guitar solo as smooth as velvet sheets and Josh Homme’s sultry plea, there’s only one thing you’ll want to do after this Queens’ Era Vulgaris cut. And it ain’t eatin’ ice cream. Unless you’re into that sort of thing.—Tyler Kane

49. “Be My Baby,” The Ronettes (1963)
This might be an odd choice to some, but there’s something about this song. Released in August of 1963, “Be My Baby” became the first hit single for The Ronettes, while establishing Phil Spector’s “wall of sound” studio wizardry. The big, descending chorus will absolutely melt your heart, but Ronnie Spector’s lead vocals are the real dagger—sassy and vulnerable all at once. This song’s sexiness lies in its romanticism, and it also captures the innocence of the time perfectly.—Mark Lore

48. “Carrizo Plain,” Gardens & Villa (2011)
The haunting chorus, “You and I are intertwined,” stitches a sensual sinew backbone. Guitar ripples over glassy water like stones tossed from two lovers’ canoe. It’s all organic, coasting with whistles, quiet strings and swirling wind. This song works for meaningful romps only—so that heartstrings and limbs weave into an enchanting macrame, a sturdy rope that lassoes souls tightly together. Tom drums tumble to climax just shy of the three-minute mark—but for only a second, before cooling. It steams until it simmers, warm to the finish.—Beca Grimm

47. “Too Much Love,” LCD Soundsystem (2006)
LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy was known for his arhythmic, almost conversational singing style…either that or for his jubilant party shouting. But on “Too Much Love,” from his group’s 2006 self-titled debut, he sounds as if he’s in a kind of lobotomized trance, singing about “too much love” as if it’s totally beaten him down. Combine this with a steady, thumping beat and a series of sinister screeching echoes, and you’ve got one of LCD’s darker, sexier tracks, perfect for locking eyes across a smoky club.—Ryan Bort

46. “Do You Remember The First Time?” Pulp (1994)
To some degree, every ‘90s Pulp song is about sexual frustration or struggling against class. Usually, it’s both rolled into one. But Jarvis Cocker got to the heart of distorted sexual longing best on His ‘n Hers’ “Do You Remember the First Time?” At its core, the song is about trying to manipulate someone’s marital boredom in order to sleep with them again, but the startling thing about the jam is its wistful humanity. The gangly frontman’s pleas are desperate from beginning to end: “You say you’ve got to go home / Well, at least there’s someone there for you to talk to.” Even if Cocker can’t remember a worst time, the first time you hear this song is something you’ll always long for time and time again.—Mack Hayden

45. “Stir It Up,” Bob Marley (1973)
As a divine mouthpiece for Jah, Bob Marley was all about spreading the tenets of Rastafarianism to as many people as possible. He was also about spreading the love, both literally—he had at least 10 children with a number of a different women—and through his songs. “Stir It Up” is one of Marley’s most affecting straight-up love songs, playing out almost in slow motion, as if he’s been suspended in a blissful daze by his love. Of course, weed might have also played a role in this blissful daze, but for the purpose of this list we’ll peg it on love.—Ryan Bort

44. “Your Legs Grow,” Nada Surf (2005)
Matthew Caws’ voice is hot in your ear when he starts, “If you were here / Baby, we’d increase the dose / There was no fear in my room when we got close / Call me anytime you’ve got a ghost.” That’s a promise, and reliability like that is really hot. It’s almost acoustic—because just Caws’ feathery words are enough. But the moment of ignition comes later: “You’re the only person in the world / I feel that way about / And if you move off to the side / I’ll get swept back out.” Those last lines my high-school boyfriend sang along into my ear, his breaths shallow, when we drove five hours to see Nada Surf shortly after The Weight Is A Gift dropped in 2005. Talk about shaky knees.—Beca Grimm

43. “Freedom,” Jurassic 5 (2003)
Most of the songs on this list are explicitly about love or sex in one way or another. “Freedom,” the second single from Jurassic 5’s 2003 album Power in Numbers is not—it’s about how precious freedom is in a world full of oppression—but its beat and slow burn are too inherently seductive to ignore. And hey, maybe you find social consciousness sexier than guitar solos and smooth baritones, in which case “Freedom” is practically a home run on the sexy scale.—Ryan Bort

42. “66,” Afghan Whigs (1998)
An alt-rock heartthrob with none of the crippling angst or intense introversions—and therefore with none of the inhibitions—of his whiny ‘90s peers, Greg Dulli blurs the lines between seducer and seduced, between desirer and desired, and (of course) between dominant and submissive on this standout from the Afghan Whigs’ swan song 1965. It could be a blueprint for Robin Thicke’s recent hit, but it’s less date-rapey and more intriguing in its understanding of male sexuality. So when’s that Dulli/Pharrell Williams collaboration going to happen?—Stephen M. Deusner

41. “Fever,” Peggy Lee (1958)
This Little Willie John number has been recorded by everyone under the sun, but it was Peggy Lee who made it her own, adding the “Romeo loved Juliet” and “Captain Smith and Pocahontas” verses. Her sparse arrangement—just a bass line and some jazzy snaps—really allows her voice to shine and those lyrics to burn up.—Bonnie Stiernberg

40. “I Hate The Way You Love,” The Kills (2005)
If it’s hate sex you’re in the mood for, look no further. Off of 2005’s No Wow, the vicious, grating “I Hate The Way You Love” epitomizes frontwoman Alison Mosshart’s punch-you-in-the-face sex appeal. With jet black hair, a brash stage presence and a general air of disdain, of course she’s going to hate the way you love…But that’s what makes her so attractive. Adding to the sexiness of “I Hate The Way You Love” is the track that follows it on No Wow, “I Hate The Way You Love, Pt. 2,” which serves as a pleasant post-coital pressure release.—Ryan Bort

39. “Maybe I’m Amazed,” Paul McCartney (1970)
It might not be the obvious choice for “sexiest song by a Beatle”—we all know what “Please Please Me” is hinting at, and tracks like “Why Don’t We Do It In The Road” and “I Want You” cut right to the chase—but this Paul McCartney solo effort (penned for his wife Linda and rerecorded as a live track with Wings in 1976) sees Macca, so often slapped with the dreaded “cute” designation, at his most passionate and adult-sounding. There’s something about the way he cries “Baby, I’m a man” that suggests he wants to do a little more than hold your hand this time around, and when he continues proudly shrieking “you’re the only woman who could ever help me,” it’s an excellent reminder that love songs need not sound neutered—vulnerability can be hot.—Bonnie Stiernberg

38. “Let’s Spend The Night Together,” The Rolling Stones (1967)
The Stones have tackled love and sex in just about every way imaginable, both in their songs and in their personal lives, but rarely have they approached the subject so bluntly and so sweetly as on “Let’s Spend The Night Together,” which they released as a double single with “Ruby Tuesday” in 1967. Its mild suggestiveness was still a little too racy when it was released, though, and the subject matter became an issue when the Stones were slated to appear on The Ed Sullivan Show. Sullivan told Jagger, “Either the song goes or you go,” and a comprise of changing the lyrics to “Let’s spend some time together” was eventually reached.—Ryan Bort

37. “You Really Got Me,” The Kinks (1964)
We don’t really look back on The Kinks as a “sexy” band, per se, but back in 1964 “You Really Got Me” had the black-and-white teenage girls screaming their faces off with the best of them. It was the band’s breakout song, and because it’s been covered so much over the years, it’s still one of the era’s most recognizable hits 50 years later. Simple chords, simple lyrics—sometimes getting straight to the point is the sexiest thing a song can do.—Ryan Bort

36. “Crimson and Clover,” Joan Jett and the Blackhearts (1982)
The Tommy James and the Shondells 1968 original is absolutely deserving of its own spot on this list, but Joan Jett takes the tune and cranks the sexiness up to 11; if Tommy and the boys’ innocent-by-comparison version is the sonic equivalent of some over-the-clothes stuff with a high-school love, hers is an R-rated grope session with a stranger at a bar. The reverb gets turned up, and James’ pleaful vocals get swapped for Jett’s trademark snarl: “Yeah, I’m not such a sweet thing / I wanna do everything.”—Bonnie Stiernberg

35. “Everybody Here Wants You,” Jeff Buckley (1998)
One of too many reasons why Jeff Buckley’s passing was so tragic is that we never got to his full album of baby-making music. This track from his posthumous Sketches from My Sweetheart the Drunk proves simple and direct in its seductions, thanks to a slinky rhythm section and Buckley’s in-the-moment vocals. He sounds appreciative of both the sight of a beautiful woman and the power she wields by virtue of sheer style, but the way Buckley sings it, everybody here wants him.—Stephen M. Deusner

34. “Electric Feel,” MGMT (2007)
Remember that time when you were at that festival and MGMT was playing and it was packed and everyone was dancing? Maybe you had Day-Glo streaked in faux tribal patterns across your face and arms and they started playing “Electric Feel” and you accidentally brushed hands with the girl standing next to you and you looked at each other and it felt magical and not just because of the drugs you were on? I don’t have that memory, but I’m sure more than a few people do, and it’s a testament to just how big Oracular Spectacular was in 2007 and 2008. “Kids” and “Time to Pretend” were nice, but “Electric Feel” was the real banger of the album, and there were certainly plenty of indie kids who parlayed whatever physical contact they could orchestrate between the song’s beginning and end into something more substantial.—Ryan Bort

33. “Moments In Love,” The Art of Noise (1983)
Although the term “quiet storm” is usually relegated to slow R&B jams and soft soul, it could easily be used to describe this delicately unfolding 10 minutes from the otherwise playful popsters The Art of Noise. Like some of the most affecting songs in this world, “Moments In Love” is surprisingly simple: a mid-tempo 4/4 beat overlaid with a steady series of synth lines that float in and disappear at different intervals. But the combined effect feels like being bathed in the warm glow of a candlelit room or the first shock of rain on a summer day.—Robert Ham

32. “Turn Me On,” Norah Jones (2003)
Originally written by John D. Loudermilk and recorded by Mark Dinning in 1961, “Turn Me On” has been covered by everyone from Nina Simone to American Idol contestants, but no one does it quite like Norah Jones. Her smooth, breezy vocals lend just the right amount of sultriness to lines like “Like a flower, waiting to bloom / like a lightbulb in a dark room / I’m just sittin’ here, waiting for you / To come on home and turn me on.”—Bonnie Stiernberg

31. “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You),” Aretha Franklin (1967)
With Aretha it’s always about the vocals. On her 1967 smash—her first for Atlantic and her first at FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Ala.—she uses that powerful gospel wail to proclaim a lover’s prowess, but it’s the quieter moments that make this song all red-faced and flush. When the instruments fall away and leave only Aretha and her back-up singers, they sound positively breathless; their exhalations are nearly X-rated.—Stephen M. Deusner

30. “Let’s Stay Together,” Al Green (1972)
“Let’s Stay Together,” from Al Green’s 1972 album of the same name, might be the ultimate make-up sex song. On top of a steady, rolling drum line, Green sings about how and why he and his lover should stay together and keep on loving each other forever with a vulnerability that would make any woman tremble. Adding to the song’s romanticism is how it has endured through popular culture. It’s been covered countless times, appeared in several films, perhaps most famously during Bruce Willis’ recruitment in Pulp Fiction, and Barack Obama even sang a line from it during an appearance at the Apollo Theater in 2012.—Ryan Bort

29. “Criminal,” Fiona Apple (1997)
I’ve been a bad, bad girl. A confession, yes, but barely to be trusted. Barely legal. Wild-eyed with this brand new sense, a power at once electric and loathsome and depraved and thrilling. Yes—life. Fully complicit and fully uncomprehending. So much, this body. Captured forever on camera—not the midriff, not the lingerie; we’ve all seen our share of skin and bones. But the desire. The damage. The disgust. Caused, causing, who’s pulling the strings? Who knows. This girl in pigtails, all these bodies intertwined, a mind-fuck of irresistible forces. Save me from these evil deeds before I get them done. Yes. Please.—Nathan Huffstutter

28. “Fade Into You,” Mazzy Star (1994)
Easily Mazzy Star’s biggest hit, “Fade Into You” is almost too romantic. The joining of two people has been described in myriad ways in song, both crudely and sweetly, but never has a sought-after union come across so purely and intimately as it does on the shoegaze duo’s 1994 single. The pedal-steel guitar adds a touch of wistful sentimentality, and I’m sure a sea’s worth of tears have been shed with this song playing in the background.—Ryan Bort

27. “Bloodbuzz Ohio,” The National (2010)
Okay, so we’re not entirely sure that this High Violet track is about sex, but Matt Berninger offers a few hints with lines like “Stand up straight at the foot of your love / I’ll lift my shirt up” and “Lay my head on the hood of your car / I take it too far.” Whatever he’s talking about, it sounds pretty good, and those mournful vocals are the perfect soundtrack for getting swept off your feet in the rain. If Lloyd Dobler was trying to woo Diane Court nowadays, he’d hoist his iPod over his head and crank this instead of “In Your Eyes.”—Bonnie Stiernberg

26. “Crazy Love,” Van Morrison (1970)
Who wouldn’t want to just curl up and live inside the tender, flinty voice of Van Morrison as he sings his sweet nothings on “Crazy Love”? With delicate acoustic guitar and lyrics like “The heavens open every time she smiles” and “She got a fine sense of humor when I’m feeling low down,” Morrison’s 1970 single may be better suited for some passionate hand-holding or gazing into the depths of a lover’s eyes, but passionate hand-holding often leads to passionate other things, so when things are going right between you and your significant other, just make sure you don’t forget to give a tip of the cap to the Moondance Man for setting the mood.—Ryan Bort

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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