Something must have imprinted on me from very early on, because I grew up associating sex with music. Through the ears is the quickest way to this girl's, um... heart. Not everyone shares this inclination. Many people prefer nothing more musical than their own rapid breathing during sex. According to a bit I saw recently on MuchMusic, Madonna apparently finds listening to music during sex "too distracting." Ironic, considering how many people have probably had sex to her music. (In fact, I would've guessed that Madonna listened to her own music during sex - the ultimate masturbatory experience.)
For those who do like it during sex, however, music definitely intensifies the mood. One of my friends says it makes her feel like she's the star of her own movie love scene. Another woman I know has more practical considerations. She likes to play a CD loudly when she's getting it on, because it covers up any "awkward silences or weird body noises."
Whatever the reason, one thing to bear in mind is that not all genres of music are equal. Back in the late 1980s, I dated a girl who was crazy for Ani DiFranco and wanted to listen to her all the time, especially during sex. Now, not to cast aspersions on an entire musical genre, but acoustic feminist folk rock is just a little too brown rice when what you're looking for is dessert. When she wouldn't change the tape I gave her an ultimatum: me or the music. She chose Ani.
But it isn't just folk. All music has its pitfalls when it comes to sex.
Jazz can be a good choice if it's mellow and sexy and subtle, but anything atonal or experimental that drones off into weird, difficult solos is just going to pour cold water all over everything. On the other hand, something hard, loud and fast - rap, metal, or punk - goes great with a throw-your-partner-up-against-the-wall kind of thing but might be too much pressure for the average vanilla let's-do-it-missionary-because-my-sciatica-is-acting-up-again event.
I don't know much about classical and opera, but some of it seems pretty sexy. The drawback, of course, is the possibility of getting stuck with a music nerd who wants to time his or her orgasms to a particular aria or musical crescendo. Soul and R&B might be the sine qua non of seduction music, but some songs seem a little thick with cheesy lyrics and just too self-consciously sexual (see below).
The number-one rule is that it can't be too distracting. The best sex music has to be in the background, not front and centre. It shouldn't make you stop what you're doing to puzzle over a cryptic lyric or marvel at a guitarist's wizardry. That's why you should never listen to a song for the first time during sex. Stick with something familiar that you can tune in and out.
Another way to avoid being distracted is to listen to music in languages you don't speak. For me that's meant a lot of stuff in Italian, Portuguese and Spanish. The music is pretty and the words remain a blur. Who knows what kind of lyrics I've gotten it on to - but what I don't know won't turn me off.
Speaking of lyrics, they're important. Don't listen to anything tragic, hateful or overtly political during sex - unless that's what turns you on.
Nothing will kill the moment quicker than realizing that a ballad about world hunger, a song about "killing bitches" or a my-heart-has-been-broken anti-love screed is playing in the background.
The music can't be too obvious. Sexually explicit music is not the best music to have sex to. Nick Hornby once wrote that most sexy songs "are sexual substitutes rather than sexual accompaniments - music for people who aren't getting any. Would it be possible to fuck to the tune of Let's Get it On without laughing?" I agree. Marvin Gaye's hit is a masterpiece, but there's something affected about listening to something so explicitly get-in-your-pants during sex. Ditto for other legendary drawer-droppers like Luther Vandross and Barry White. They're strictly foreplay and lonely nights material.
I'd always thought that one day a record label would catch on to this and start packaging compilation CDs of music to mess around to. Lo and behold, BMG Music has jumped on the idea.
The company recently launched the Love Notes series, a trio of classical albums packaged with sexy cover art, a tongue-in-cheek parental advisory warning and suggestive titles: Shacking Up To Chopin, Making Out To Mozart and Bedroom Bliss With Beetho-ven. Promising "evenings of bliss," BMG claims these classical collections will be "the perfect addition to intimate moments."
All I want to know is, are there any ladies groaning and sighing over the music tracks?