Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Let's sing about sex, baby - Arts & Life

Let's sing about sex, baby - Arts & Life

Your parents tried to hide it but your TV shows implied it, and while your politicians denied it, your musicians ? well ? they supplied it.

Sex has and will continue to be one of the most controversial and provocative topics in American culture. No one understands nor challenges this idea more passionately or frequently than the famous singers and songwriters who dared to go there, producing hilarious, sensual, blush-inducing songs that thrust sex through the airwaves, enticing listeners for over six decades.

Dating back well beyond the days of steamy MTV music videos and sexually explicit warning labels, musicians and big bands were kissing and telling to audiences hungry and aching for some songs about sex.

In 1953, Maurice Williams & the Zodiacs' hit song, "Stay," gave the nation's youth an excuse to take up dirty dancing in basements and garages across the country. Three years later, The Five Satins showed a more sensitive, sensual side with the billboard topping hit, "In the Still of the Night."

Many of the romantic songs of the 1940s and 1950s only subtly alluded to sex, until 1956, when Frank Sinatra re-released Gus Kahn's barely-known song from 1930, "Making Whoopee," thus shifting the music industry's sexual-implicit tone of the time to more funny, raw and risqué ¬yrics.

The always controversial and risk-taking band, The Doors, didn't hesitate to talk about what really turns men on in the group's 1967 single, "Light My Fire," with lead singer Jim Morrison's instructional lyrics inviting women everywhere to spark someone's sexual fuse.

No one in the history of music did sex quite as well as Marvin Gaye, not even Madonna. Two of his incredibly successful and popular hit songs, "Let's Get It On" and "Sexual Healing," remain bedtime favorites to this day, a good 30 years after their suggestive lyrics served as the ultimate aphrodisiac.

Gaye wasn't alone in his day, however, as the leading sexual songwriter. Female musicians, such as Donna Summer, Dusty Springfield and Olivia Newton-John, gave listeners an earful with sultry songs that proved men weren't the only ones with sex on the brain.

Donna Summer's hit song, "Love to Love You Baby," was erotic and sexually suggestive with her soft, whispering voice and brow-raising moves. Dusty Springfield, who was a self-proclaimed bisexual, gave a similar feel with her 1967 hit song, "The Look of Love."

Olivia Newton-John was a little less subtle with her lyrics than the other female provocateurs of her time with her 1981 hit, "Let's Get Physical." While the music video portrayed the meaning of the song as literally getting physical while working out, Olivia's lyrics suggested otherwise.

While most of the artists who dared to sing about sex boasted wild, risky personas, such as Rod Stewart or George Michael, ever so often a sweet, innocent and mothers-adored musician or band released a not-so-innocent single.

In 1976, teen-worshiped Frankie Vali and the Four Seasons' hit single, "December 1963 (Oh What a Night)," gave the real-life details of the youngest band member, Bob Guadio's, loss of innocence and virginity while on the road with the band in 1963.

While the sex-talking songs of the '50s, '60s, '70s and '80s made waves and their fare share of controversies, the 1990s showed what it was to literally tell all.

Perhaps the most shocking and raunchy of songs to kick off the 1990s explored the much hushed and faux pas topic of not just masturbation, but female masturbation. In 1990, the year that put out sex song after sex song, the Divinyls, an all female group, saw one-hit-wonder success with the song, "I Touch Myself."

That same year, Billy Idol showed fans how to "Rock the Cradle of Love," Madonna asked men and women alike to "Justify My Love" and Chris Isaak vividly described sex's mysterious "Wicked Game."

Following suit, in 1991 two unknown bands, Color Me Badd and C&C Music Factory, also made it to the airwaves by shocking listeners with silly yet sexy one-hit-wonders, "I Wanna Sex You Up" and "Gonna Make You Sweat."

Not all singers of sex slipped into one-hit-wonder status after giving the details of their sexual escapades. In 1994, the popular and sexy R&B group Boyz II Men made women melt with their song, "I'll Make Love to You," shifting the tone of sexual music back to the romantic feel of the 1950s.

In 1997, two teenage newcomers hit the pop scene, singing about not-so teenage stuff. Britney Spears' first hit, " ? Baby One More Time," and her fellow rival pop-princess Christina Aguilera's first hit, "Genie in a Bottle," were so sexually implicit that they caused quite a stir among horny young boys, adoring young girls, disgusted adults and a very sexually frustrated first lady of Maryland.

While 2000-2006 hasn't seemed to push the sex envelope as much as past decades (editor's note: Don't worry, Timberlake is working on bringing sexy back. - Justin), it is most likely because talking about sex isn't nearly as big of a no-no and thus not as much fun to sing about today. Yet singers like Kelis and her "Milkshake" and Usher and his "Nice and Slow" still keep the sex alive in the ears and minds of curious listeners around the globe, and continue to be the ideal tunes for "making whoopee."

Most Ridiculously Raunchy Songs About Sex:

"Let's Get It On" - Marvin Gaye

"I Wanna Sex You Up" - Color Me Badd

"I Touch Myself" - The Divinyls

"I'll Make Love To You" - Boyz II Men

"Gonna Make You Sweat" - C & C Music Factory

"I Want Your Sex" - George Michael

"Let's Get Physical" - Olivia Newton-John

"Push It" - Salt-N-Pepa

"Rock the Cradle of Love" - Billy Idol

"Making Whoopie" - Gus Kahn

I think they left out loads (pun intended) of songs from Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, etc.

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