Friday, March 15, 2013

Songs to shag to

Horrible prepositional phrases, FTW!

There's very little possible argument against music as a sexual force. It's been condemned throughout history as an enabler, from David to Marilyn (no, not that Marilyn (thanks, Brian) but, yeah... her, too.) What's occasionally rattled around in my brain (and... other... places...) is what kind of music really drives the sexual impulse. It certainly depends on the listener(s) and their particular tastes and impulses, but sometimes it's the foundation of the track:


Ministry's Jesus Built My Hotrod off their transcendent Psalm 69 can't be described any other way by anyone willing to pay attention. Gibby Haynes' obvious lyrics and the song's driving, repetitive beat tend to make it obvious. But would it be a song that encourages sex with someone other than oneself?

Schubert's Ave Maria, on the other hand, is a piece I've heard recommended more than once to "set and continue the mood."


I can see the possibilities, even if it's something that might not occur to me. I wonder, however, if the soprano's presence is too much of an intrusion into the situation for most people. Does she make one rise and fall with her voice or propel one forward? Of course, in the classical vein, many people say you can't go wrong with the classic:


The physical mimicry of Ravel's Bolero, shifting from a slow, quiet build with an everconstant beat to something of more prominence is doubtlessly why it's lasted through the years as music emblematic of the deed. In the modern era, its attachment to Bo Derek and the movie 10 has certainly perpetuated that mental image.

Or we can shift away from mimicry and return to the direct approach:


John Lee Hooker's I'm in the Mood is not only a song explicitly about sex, but also contains that languid beat that tugs at your guts until you're willing to move in the way he wants you to. Many people think that there's something essentially sexual about the blues and its origins from long, slow, hot nights along the Mississippi. Of course, if you'd rather stick with modern tradition, you hearken back to the 70s:


I'd never be able to do it because I grew up in the 70s and Barry White makes me think of seedy, vaguely-Irish-themed bars, filled with smoke and the sounds of Space Invaders; not that the increasingly rapid and regular rhythm of the advancing aliens doesn't make a good aural simulation.

But there's a key element: Is the music supposed to draw you into another world or help enhance the one you're in? I suppose it depends on whom you have to imagine you're screwing, if you have to do that, but then we wouldn't really be talking about playing the right music. Personally, I remember having one of the more thrilling experiences of my life while listening to


AC/DC's Shake a Leg. Again, it was the driving beat and urgency of the whole track (I will forever be rooted in punk, I think) that kind of set the tone for the whole moment. We had put the album on to cover the noise and, thankfully, this track came on at just the right time, just as things were reaching a physical crescendo, as it were. Just like Ministry, it's a complete separation from the slower and just as intense urges driven by players like Hooker and again highlights the question of just which world you're trying to inhabit at any given moment.

Of course, sometimes it's all about timing. I have a friend who was hitting his peak right around the time that someone next door in the dorm was blasting Kraftwerk at 11:


He said that he could never hear this track again without, um, feeling it. Of course, some would say that techno/house/dub music like The Orb's Blue Room


is supposed to inspire precisely that kind of motion on the dance floor, vertically and horizontally. I can't really disagree with that, especially given the ethereal quality that is, in fact, meant to transport the listener (often to another world...) I had this track playing in a hotel room in Coldwater, MI one time (long story.)

Admittedly, I had sexual meaning on the brain tonight after tripping over Friends With Benefits while looking for a brief distraction. I like Mila Kunis as an actress (and, because, well, yeah) and I think the chemistry of the two stars and the script were both great but it was, in the end, yet another formulaic romantic comedy that spoiled all of that potential by kowtowing to test audiences. They were "daring" enough to make the movie largely about sex (trying to PG-13 it would have sacrificed the essential tenet of the story) but music and sex will always beat movies and sex, outside of the whole pr0n thing (Oh. That.) because the former often requires actual thought, whereas the latter frequently avoids it.

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