Sexuality in pop music is a nuanced concept, especially with female artists. On the one hand, it’s empowering if an artist fully controls the sexual images she puts into the world (like Madonna). But it’s degrading if she’s only being provocative to appease her management—like Camila Cabello, who confessed last year she felt pressure to “sexualize” her image while in Fifth Harmony. It’s tricky to know what version of pop sexuality you’re watching—natural or forced—because they look the same on paper. And they sound the same, too. If an artist has a say (or conviction) in the words she sings, the track is sex-positive. But if the sexuality is manufactured—even just a word—it’s problematic.
Ariana Grande’s latest single “God Is a Woman” is a prime example of a song that’s undeniably sex-positive. For one, the R&B slow-jam lists Grande as a writer, and she clarified her intentions on Twitter. “Sex is empowering. It’s the source of all life,” she wrote. You can check out Grande’s tweet for yourself, below:
sex is empowering. it’s the source of all life. pussy is a privilege.
— Ariana Grande (@ArianaGrande) July 11, 2018
These 10 other songs, below, fall into the same category as “God Is a Woman.” Take a listen for yourself.
Beyoncé is one of the main songwriters on “Blow,” a sultry, discofied ode to oral sex. “Can you eat my skittles? It’s the sweetest in the middle,” Bey sings with power and confidence. Bow down.
Britney Spears, “Touch of My Hand”
The lolita-adjacent sexuality Spears exuded in the early stages of her career was arguably manufactured, but with her fourth album, In the Zone (2003), she firmly took back the power with eight songwriting credits. One of those tracks is “Touch of My Hand,” where Spears proclaims her love for masturbation over a heavy layer of Auto-Tune. Spears defended the song’s lyrics in a 2003 interviewwith Diane Sawyer, saying, “[Masturbation] is a reality that we have. [It’s] something sacred and something I wanted to write about.”
Madonna has always incorporated sex into her music, but she’s the most upfront about it on “Erotica,” a trip-hop song with lyrics like, “Give it up and let me have my way” and “Put your hands all over my body.” Madonna’s sexual manifesto is particularly important because she places women squarely in the driver’s seat. You absolutely hear that on “Erotica” (“I’m in charge and I treat you like a child,” she sings), but it’s also present on her tamer songs, like “Express Yourself”—”Don’t settle for second best, baby.”
The Aces, “Physical”
Singing about your lack of sexual interest can be sex-positive, too. Such is the case with “Physical,” an ’80s-tinged dance track where The Aces lament about their disinterest in fuckbuddy relationships. They want more, and they’re not afraid to ask for it.
Lady Gaga, “Sexx Dreams”
Gaga is another artist who’s always been sexually autonomous, but her mindset takes literal shape on “Sexxx Dreams,” a mid-tempo electro banger about, you guessed it, sex dreams. “When I lay in bed I touch myself and I think of you,” Gaga unapologetically shouts on the track as a synth beat pounds in the background. Consider the poker face officially dropped.
Demi Lovato, “Body Say”
In her November 2016 cover story for Glamour, Lovato revealed she had avoided writing about sex until “Body Say.” “I shied away from it,” she said. “I have parents that’ll hear my music! But I realized I’m leaving out an element of adulthood. I wrote ‘Body Say’ a few weeks later—that was liberating. I want to write more about it.” The song, which Lovato says is about being “in tune” with your body and knowing what you want, is sexual power at it finest (and most fun). “Speed it up, baby, make me sweat…If my body had a say, I wouldn’t turn away,” she sings.
Rihanna didn’t write “S&M,” but she made it clear in a 2011 interview with Rolling Stone that she strongly identifies with the song. “I like to be spanked,” she said. “Being tied up is fun. I like to keep it spontaneous.” Noted.
Nicki Minaj feat. Beyoncé, “Feelin’ Myself”
Minaj and Beyoncé were heavily involved in the writing of “Feeling Myself,” which can be interpreted as a hat-tip to masturbation.
Miley Cyrus, “Bang Me Box”
Cyrus’ psychedelic record Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz largely flew under the radar, but “Bang Me Box” is worth a second (and third) listen. On the track, Cyrus (who identifies as queer) waxes poetic about her desire for sex with a woman. It’s one of the most upfront songs about gay love in recent memory—and the fact that it came from a pop star as ubiquitous as Cyrus is pretty huge.
Marina and the Diamonds, “Sex Yeah”
On this bouncy electropop song, Marina and the Diamonds works toward breaking the sexual chains that a patriarchal society places on females. “If women were religiously recognized sexually, we wouldn’t have to feel the need to show our assets to feel free,” she sings. And it’s catchy, too.
Taken from GLAMOUR US. Read the original here.