When you get that feeling and need sexual healing, do you (a) go rogue and let the “shuffle” feature call the shots or (b) queue up your tried-and-true sex playlist?
If you’re in the former group, Godspeed; may the shuffle powers that be stay clear of Eric Clapton’s “Tears In Heaven.” If you’re part of the latter group, you’re in a safe space ― we’re sex playlist fans, too.
While sex playlists tend to get a bad rap (the last time one was in the news, it was Jared and Ivanka’s alleged 21-minute-long sex playlist), when they’re done right, they can be a downright game changer in the bedroom, said Ellis Miah, a DJ and producer who’s worked with RuPaul, Annie Lennox and Miley Cyrus.
“If you are a considerate lover that knows your partner’s taste in music, I think sex playlists are definitely a good idea,” he told HuffPost. “Actors in all of your favorite love scenes have soundtracks for the horizontal mambo, so why shouldn’t you?”
Hard to argue with that.
Figuring out what to put on your sex playlist is largely a matter of personal preference, but if you’re unsure which direction to go, try to think of it as a sonic mood board: What songs or genres make you feel sexy? What do you want the other person to feel? If you were choreographing a sex scene, what would you want to hear?
It also helps to get nostalgic, said Michelle Pesce, a DJ in Los Angeles. When she’s creating her own sex playlists, she tries to strike a balance between neo soul slow jams (think SZA, H.E.R. and Frank Ocean) and old-school tracks that remind her of make-out sesses of yesteryear.
“When I throw in artists like Jodeci, Al B. Sure!, Sade or Mary J. Blige, there’s something that gets triggered that feels tangible and takes me back to being a teenager,” she said. “I think of making out with my first few boyfriends, when my hormones were bouncing off the walls.”
Don’t forget about your partner when creating a list, said Patrick Diaz, a San Francisco DJ who goes by King Most. If you know the other person is into the Rolling Stones’ slower jams, throw them a bone and include “Beast of Burden.”
“You have to make sure to sprinkle a few songs or artists that he or she likes,” he said. “In terms of programming, like a good DJ set, ease into it and go from there. And also make sure to give yourself plenty of time and have something to cool off to as well.”
Stay clear of songs that feature heady lyrics that will take the other person out of the moment, Diaz said. And save the “I can’t wait for you to hear this!” tracks for a car ride.
“Full disclosure, one time I was having a ‘moment’ with someone and became super distracted by a Sade cover that came on,” he said. “I stopped and had to check what it was actually. When it’s music like that, it’s too distracting for me.”
Travis Holcombe, a DJ and host on KCRW in Los Angeles, recommends focusing on mood and tone while fine-tuning your playlist ― and definitely pivot away from anything too on the nose.
“Color Me Badd’s ‘I Wanna Sex You Up’ might be a clear expression of your intentions, but don’t put that on your sex playlist,” he said. “I think it’s a great song, but there’s a decent chance that your partner might find it cheesy. Courtship is a delicate dance. It’s key that you both are able to stay focused to get into the mood.”
When in doubt, keep it fun and playful, says Miami-based DJ Jessica Who.
“I think the key point is not to take yourself too seriously,” she said. “If you can’t laugh during sex, you’re probably doing it with the wrong person.”
“Keep that in mind when making a playlist,” Who added. “It just doesn’t feel authentic to me if it’s like super moody or graphic R&B. It should be sexy, but have a bit of a lighthearted vibe, too.”
As for specific tracks to absolutely avoid?
“Avoid songs with confusing or infidelity-driven narratives like ‘Blurred Lines’ by Robin Thicke or ‘Confessions’ by Usher,” Miah said.
Diaz’s advice? “No R. Kelly.”
“No bubble gum pop,” Pesce said. “And definitely no ‘Thong Song.’”
Fair assessment. Below, our DJ sources share their best mini playlists for you to use as a starter mix. Now, go forth and sex it up.
Travis Holcombe’s Sex Playlist
Frank Ocean ― “White Ferrari”
Everything Is Recorded ― “Close But Not Quite” (ft. Sampha)
Kali Uchis ― “After the Storm” (ft. Tyler, The Creator & Bootsy Collins)
Kelela ― “Bank Head” (Extended)
Mark E ― “Call Me” (Dixon Edit)
Jessica Who’s Sex Playlist
Sade ― “Hang On To Your Love”
DeBarge ― “I Like It”
Bobby Caldwell ― “What You Won’t Do For Love”
Aaliyah ― “Back And Forth”
Blood Orange ― “I’m Sorry We Lied”
Daft Punk ― “Something About Us”
Ellis Miah’s Sex Playlist
Little Beaver ― “Party Down”
Kaytranada ― “Got It Good” (ft. Craig David)
Tuxedo ― “So Good”
Stevie Wonder ― “Ribbon In The Sky
Michelle Pesce’s Sex Playlist
Kendrick Lamar ― “Love” ft. Zacari
Lykke Li ― “Get Some”
Chris Isaak ― “Wicked Game”
Tech N9ne ― “Fragile” (ft. Kendrick Lamar, ¡MAYDAY! & Kendall Morgan)
Sia ― “Breathe Me”
Madonna ― “Justify My Love”
King Most’s Sex Playlist
Prince ― “If I Was Your Girlfriend”
D’Angelo ― “The Line”
Nite Jewel ― “P.Y.T.”
The Weeknd ― “What You Need”
Art of Noise ― “Moments in Love”