Are you ready to think long and hard...?
One of my favorite blogs, The Mama Sutra, recently had this great post about Tennessee’s “Gateway Sexual Activity Act" which restricts teachers from talking about behaviors that can lead to sex — i.e., kissing, holding hands, touching, etc. — while they are teaching sex ed.
I thought to myself, as I have since back when the bill was first introduced, “Where do we draw the line? Can the kids listen to Marvin Gaye?”
Which is why we are here today.
Why so specific? There are two reasons:
- When it comes to songs about sex, '90s R&B/Hip-Hop is the gift that keeps on giving.There is no end to the awesomeness going on. And thus ...
- It’s some of my favorite stuff. I freaking love it!
So here are 5 of the best sexy songs from the 90s that probably got you thinking about sex WAY more than your health teacher ever did:
1. "Let’s Talk About Sex" by Salt-N-Pepa (1991)
You can’t talk '90s sex music and not touch on this one. "Let’s Talk About Sex" wasn't SNP’s first (or last) track to put sex front and center, but this one cemented their place as strong, assertive women in control of their sexuality and sounded a gong for everyone else to take control of theirs.
As a Catholic school kid, this song was the first place I learned about the concept of sex-positive communication. These were the early days in terms of HIV/AIDS awareness and safe sex education (especially among heterosexuals) and this song was an awesomely accessible way to get folks to start talking. Salt-N-Pepa threw down the sexual gauntlet. If we’re going to do it, let’s be open and up-front and know exactly what it is we’re doing.
Then this happened…
2. "I Wanna Sex You Up" by Color Me Badd (1991)
So much to say about this, but really the biggest point here is that these gentlemen simply don’t seem to grasp how sex works. Like, mechanically.
This little ditty (which was featured on the New Jack City soundtrack — what?!) features such promises as, “We can do it til we both wake up”…
Now I’m no expert, but if you’ve both fallen asleep, I'm pretty sure you’re not doing it anymore.
(Pro tip: Even if only one of you is asleep, there should be no doing it. Everyone needs to be awake for intercourse to be consensual.)
There is also mention of “making love until we drown.” Um, who-with-the-what-now? Are they in a pool? Why is drowning presented as a goal? I’m so confused and based on these lyrics (and the hairstyles in this video) so are the boys of Color Me Badd. It’s like they just need better instructions.
Which is why I thank the powers that be for this ...
3. "I’ll Make Love to You" by Boyz II Men (1994)
Most folks my age know this as the song you slow-danced to at your junior prom. It wasn’t until I got a bit older that I realized this is about more than your typical slow-jam seduction. This track gets straight-up instructional.
Indeed, most of the lyrics are just directions.
"Close your eyes/make a wish
And blow out the candlelight...
Pour the wine/ Light the fire"
Teenage boys could have made checklists off this thing! In fact, my brother has been known to re-interpret one line as follows:
“Throw your clothes on the floor/I’m going to take my clothes off too ... BECAUSE THAT’S HOW THIS WORKS!”
Really, you could hear the conversation going down that way.
Anyway, you have to hand it to them. Boyz II Men were unwavering in their commitment to getting it on. Even if they had to take you through it step-by-step, you were going to have a good time.
And then there are folks who need no instruction at all …
4. "Doin’ It" by LL Cool J featuring Leshaun (1996)
I recently found myself in a debate about whether this song was sex-positive and my answer — not even taking into account my life-long crush on LL Cool J — is HELL to the YES!
We have two people (one of whom is very excited about everyone’s geographic origins) singing about how mutually psyched they are for their encounter, talking about the condom they use, making sure everyone enjoys the experience — I ♥ a man who raps about attending to the g-spot — and having a little post-coital verbal hi-five.
Add to that the fact that the original track features a female orgasm (it was edited out of the video, along with most references to female pleasure, from “g-spot” to “kitty cat.” Seriously?!) and I don’t see how you could go wrong.
We should all be this committed to “doin’ it well."
Finally, the award for sexual subtlety in music goes to …
5. "Too Close" by Next (1998)
Brass tacks? This song is about a boner. That’s it.
Doubt me? Start the video.
Spoken intro (I wish I was kidding here): “I wonder if she can tell I’m hard right now? Hmm ...”
In 1998 this song rose (not unlike the member in question) to number one on the U.S. Hot 100 and R&B charts and went Platinum. Let’s think about what went into this enterprise.
- Someone actually thought to themselves, “You know how when you dance with a girl your dick gets hard? No one is singing about that enough.”
- Then a woman agreed to sing the female part of this song, which boils down to, “Hey, did you just poke me with your junk?”
- Someone else came up with the choreography at 0:13 (I picture a production meeting involving the question, “Can they bob their heads more?”).
- People called radio stations and walked into music stores (for my younger readers) asking for the song where the guy gets wood in a club often enough for this song to hit number one, get unseated and then reclaim the top spot.
That’s A LOT for one tumescent penis to accomplish!
Maybe that’s what those late-night drug commercials mean when they say “a more powerful” erection …
And, of course ...
Honorable Mentions — because you can’t talk sexy '90s songs and leave these two gentlemen out of the conversation:
Bump and Grind by R. Kelly (1994)
R. Kelly gives Next a run for their money in the subtlety department.
"Pony" by Ginuwine (1996)
I once explained the lyrics of this song to my brother. We felt awkward after.
This article was originally published at The Redhead Bedhead. Reprinted with permission from the author.