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This is Not a Sex Playlist (21XXX Playlist)

By Abby Burrows, Jen Capriola, Elaine Mei

Art by Isabel Burke (@the.flightless.artist on Instagram)

This is not a sex playlist; this is a playlist about sex. Lucky for us, there’s no one way to write a song about “it.” Like sex itself, the sonic landscape of this playlist is varied in tempo, in rhythm, dynamics, duration. Everyone’s personal sex discography is varied, incongruous at times, and ever-evolving — our collection of songs will be no different.

The sex of Fiona Apple’s “I Want You to Love Me” is obsessive and desperate as she demands that simple yet elusive thing — love. While Apple’s plea is as unrequited as her love, Danny Brown’s “I Will” and Doja Cat’s “Go to Town” form a conversation about sex that is reciprocal: there is pleasure in giving as well as receiving. “Montero” is maybe the most complex conversation of all: a conversation within himself. For Lil Nas X, the interplay of queerness, masculinity, Blackness, and religion manfiests in a relationship with sex that is equally as fraught as it is liberating.

The artistry contained in these songs reflects the idea that sex itself is a creative process — as an invitation for individuals and partners to reimagine pleasure as a space where the rules and regulations enforced by the outside world no longer apply. So what do we do with this imagination, if our vocabulary around sex is so often inherited through violence and trauma? Maybe these artists can offer some solutions through lyrics that rewrites sex as ours: as messy, as awkward, as loving, as demeaning, as passionate, as outrageous, as lonely, as empowering, as all of the above.


What about the rest of Spare Rib?

We asked the members of Spare Rib for their favorite songs to have sex to –– here's what they told us.

Spare Rib's Crowd-Sourced Sex Songs:

  1. Pynk by janelle monae

  2. Pink matter by frank ocean

  3. The night me and your mama met by Childish Gambino

  4. Smooth by Orion sun

  5. Bite by Troye Sivan

  6. Shea Butter Baby by Ari Lennox

  7. Dress by Taylor Swift

  8. poplar st. by glass animals

  9. hello! by role model

  10. you showed me by the turtles

  11. Body Gold by Oh Wonder

  12. Holy by King Princess

  13. All the good girls go to hell by Billie eilish

  14. let it happen by tame impala

  15. 505 by arctic monkeys

  16. robbers by the 1975

  17. can i by kehlani

  18. water by kehlani

  19. drown by baekhyun

  20. touch me by victoria monet ft kehlani

  21. pussy fairy by jhene aiko

  22. light a flame by seventeen

  23. telepatia by kali uchis

  24. tail by sunmi

  25. singularity by bts

  26. one of these nights by the eagles

  27. sabrina claudio by unravel me

  28. Motivate by Little Mix

  29. Freak by Little Mix

  30. Kiwi by Harry Styles

  31. Mind Over Matter by Anthony Ramos

  32. Corazón Delator by Soda Stereo

  33. Apocalypse by Cigarettes After Sex

  34. Motivation by Normani



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