While you need at least two people’s physical frames for something to be considered actual sex, it doesn’t end there.
What distinguishes good sex from bad sex is … well, everything else. It’s the context: where you are and how you feel, the lighting and the smell, whether you’re doing it up against the wall or in a plushy king-size bed.
One particular aspect of sex that goes under appreciated? Sound. As with cinema, when it comes to sex, the soundtrack can make all the difference. Putting on some music while you get it on can mask the sound for any people nearby, pump you up or relax you, and give you a tempo to move your bodies to.
The right music can turn some ordinary sex into an extraordinary and memorable experience, but not all music is a great fit. Regardless of what you typically listen to, some music is just better suited for doing the deed — whether it’s the lyrics, the instruments or some ineffable sexy quality to the song.
To help you experience the musically assisted sex of your dreams, here are 13 songs that are certified sexy (with an alternate option for each if you’re not feeling the main choice).
After playing these tracks during sex, you might not be able to think of them the same way again — you’ve been warned.
The Best Songs to Have Sex To
The xx – “Intro”
Best for: Pre-sex makeouts
“Pale British indie trio” doesn’t exactly scream “hot” to most people, but listening to “Intro,” the first track on the xx’s debut album, will make you a changed man. It’s lush, it’s soothing, it’s dreamy. It’s like falling back onto the perfect couch (if the couch were actually a hypnotic trance). There are longer mixes of this song, and no, you wouldn’t be in the wrong for seeking them out because, like sex, 130 seconds just isn’t long enough.
Or try: Interpol – “Untitled”
Looking for another intro track to a critically acclaimed rock album? Interpol’s “Untitled” has a slightly different vibe — sparser and more driving — but it’s a great kickoff as well.
The Weeknd – “High for This”
Best for: Sex with some kinky vibes
It seems nobody has released more sex music in the past decade than The Weeknd, but if you’re not familiar with his earlier work, you’re missing out. Before he became a household name, the man born Abel Tesfaye was putting out darkly sultry R’n’B sex bangers like “High for This.” There’s something undeniably hot about his BDSM-tinged, drug-fuelled orgy music, and “High for This” is a standout in that regard.
Or try: The Weeknd – “Can’t Feel My Face”
His early stuff might be sexier, but his later material isn’t exactly chaste. It’s much less sparse if you like a fuller beat.
Frank Ocean – “Pyramids”
Best for: Hour-long tantric sex sessions
Most of the songs on this list are in the three-to-five-minute range, but by comparison, “Pyramids” is a tantric masterpiece. Think 10 minutes of non-stop brilliance, to be more exact. The lyrics are decidedly more “strip club” than “ancient Egypt,” but in Ocean’s hands the song is no less epic for it. And that keyboard riff? Pure sex.
Or try: Frank Ocean – “Nature Feels”
A standout from Ocean’s debut mixtape that samples MGMT’s perfect “Electric Feel,” “Nature Feels” isn’t available on Spotify, but it may be worth making the extra effort to hear
Beyoncé – “Partition”
Best for: Sex before a night out together
For one of the most famous people in America, Beyoncé got impressively open about her sex life on “Partition,” a song about having car sex with her husband in a limo en route to the club. The song’s sexy vibes don’t begin and end at its eye-popping frankness, however, as the taut minimalist beat spills over into a booming bass thrum, and the chorus’s supplications whisper in your ears. Oh, and there’s some French voiceover about female pleasure, too.
Or try: Kanye West ft. The Weeknd – “Drunk in Love (Remix)”
With all due respect to Bey, Jay-Z’s verse ruins the original. Here, Kanye drops an unbelievably earnest sext to Kim K before The Weeknd (yes, him again) croons us home.
Drake – “Passionfruit”
Best for: Sex after a night out together
Drake’s been on the “sexy jams” circuit for years now, but perhaps none of his songs fits the mold better than “Passionfruit,” whose beat sounds like someone dipped a preloaded iPhone ringtone in a vat of honey.
Or try: Kanye West – Fade
“Fade” has some of the vibe of the “Passionfruit” beat — pitch shifted way down — and a lot of house music energy. If you can handle Post Malone and auto-tuned Kanye, this is a lot of fun. Also, that video…
Marvin Gaye – “Let’s Get It On”
Best for: Sex when you haven’t seen each other in a while
This list wouldn’t exist without the man who basically put songs about sex on the map. Lots of sexy songs are long on raunch and short on actual passion, but with “Let’s Get It On,” Marvin Gaye showed everyone how to do a sex song right. You can feel the aching sense of longing in his voice as he exhorts his would-be partner for some loving after “trying to hold back these feelings for so long.”
Or try: Marvin Gaye – “Sexual Healing (Kygo Remix)”
Purists will scream, but the beauty of Marvin’s voice is it sounds good in basically any context. If straight Marvin feels a little too slow and dusty for you, this boppy Kygo remix might hit the spot.
Childish Gambino – “Redbone”
Best for: Celebration sex
Donald Glover, aka Childish Gambino, hit a home run with the soulful and seductive “Redbone,” a song that feels like it might have time traveled to us from Marvin Gaye’s era as a pump-up jam beyond compare. Of course, given the lyrical content of the chorus, white people should not sing along, but who the hell is singing along to a sex playlist during sex?
Or try: d’Angelo – “Untitled (How Does It Feel)”
Looking for similar throwback vibes with a slower tempo? This slinky-smooth d’Angelo jam is what you’re looking for — it feels like lazy morning sex with your spouse on a day off.
Fleetwood Mac – “The Chain”
Best for: Edging sex
Like any good sexcapade, “The Chain” is a masterpiece in the slow build to an ecstatic, overwhelming ending. Each verse eventually brings back to the beginning, kind of like… edging? This is a pick that won’t work for everyone, but if your tastes veer guitar-based as opposed to R’n’B, the climax of this song is climax-worthy all on its own. When the bass comes in at 3:05, well, try not to finish prematurely.
Or try: Talking Heads – “Naive Melody (This Must Be the Place)”
“Classic rock” as a genre isn’t long on sexy songs, but this gem might just qualify for both. The beautiful, unflinching beat is stuck halfway between upbeat and haunting, and as lead singer David Byrne sings, “I guess I must be having fun,” the less we say about it, the better.
Mark Morrison – “Return of the Mack”
Best for: Tempo-matching sex
This song from ‘90s British R’n’B singer Mark Morrison, a diss track about a lover who spurned him, absolutely radiates sensual energy even with harsh emotions of its subject matter. The pounding boom-bap is a great BPM match for a rhythmic sex session either at full speed or half-speed, and you might have to bite your tongue to keep from trying to moan along mid-thrust.
Or try: DJ Khaled ft. Rihanna & Bryson Tiller – “Wild Thoughts”
If you’re feeling ‘90s nostalgic, the Santana-esque riff in this song, paired with Rihanna’s breathy admissions of horniness, could do the trick.
Sade – “The Sweetest Taboo”
Best for: Hooking up with an old flame
Sade is one of the best singer-songwriters of the 20th century, and her genius lives on into this one. Songs like this are love-lorn bops designed to make even the saddest thing sexy (and vice versa). This is your pick for sex with an ex you should know better than to keep going back to, but damn it, the sex is too good to say no to.
Or try: Sade – “Is It a Crime”
Ahh, what the hell. Like Marvin Gaye, Frank Ocean and The Weeknd, Sade is the type of person who deserves two options. Double-dipping here is most definitely not a crime.
The Notorious B.I.G. – “Big Poppa”
Best for: Roleplay sex
With Biggie’s butter-smooth voice, a recitation of the dictionary would sound sexy. No surprise, then, that his anthemic tribute to a slightly kinky relationship would come off outright devastatingly raunchy. It doesn’t hurt that it’s backed with a beat so sensuous that it would be a come-on as an instrumental. Which…
Or try: The Isley Brothers – “Between the Sheets”
…if your tastes lean more ‘70s rock, good news: The “Big Poppa” beat was sampled from an equally sexy Isley Brothers song.
Ariana Grande ft. Nicki Minaj – “Side to Side”
Best for: Sex with a forbidden crush
In a genre that’s been dominated for decades by horny male musicians, Ariana’s anthem might not be the sexiest, sound-wise, but bullies its way on via sheer audacity — the lyrics are about how hard it is to walk after getting a serious pounding from her new beau. And Nicki’s verse, where she talks about riding d*ck like a bicycle, doesn’t hurt either.
Or try: Lizzo – “Juice”
Looking for another female-driven sex song, but one that’s a bit more laid-back and sensual? Lizzo’s got some juice for you to squeeze. Warning: This track will get stuck in your head.
Ginuwine – “Pony”
Best for: The best sex you have all year
This song basically is sex. Even if you haven’t seen Channing Tatum giving his all to its undeniably filthiness in “Magic Mike” or “Magic Mike XXL,” a few seconds of listening to its absurdly catchy mechanical bullfrog-croak beat will deliver the message. The lyrics are sexy, but they almost don’t matter with a song that sounds this much like intercourse. Put this on and ride slow, low and dirty. You won’t regret it.
Or try: Ginuwine – “Pony”
That’s right — the same track, again. In the realm of sex songs, this one has no equal, no alternative, or rival. Put it on every sex playlist, ever.