uSelena Gomez told the world that she “couldn’t keep her hands to herself.” Isn’t keep your hands and your feet to yourself one of the basic rules taught in every elementary classroom? Regardless, Gomez’s lack of control perfectly captures the sentiment of the 11 songs selected on this playlist that lack control of their sexual appetites. The innuendo is front and center and inescapable, even if the particular song has more transcendent aspirations. One Direction say it best: “No Control.”
1) Fifth Harmony featuring Ty Dolla $ign, “Work From Home” (7/27, 2016)
There’s no covering it up in the least; Fifth Harmony’s “Work From Home” is drenched in innuendo from start to finish. Liken “Work From Home” to mashed potatoes smothered in brown gravy, or gravy of preference. How absurd is this irresistible pop hit? Absurd as your choice of a four-letter word. These girls essentially tell their boyfriends they “don’t gotta go to work” – a source of bread mind you – because they can “work from home.” UGH, really? It’s further illustrated in the official music video with construction workers and parodied in hilarious fashion in Bart Baker’s twisted interpretation.
Sure, what guy wouldn’t want to oblige Fifth Harmony’s suggestiveness in an ideal, utopian world? Still, no matter how much “work” Fifth Harmony are willing to do with their bodies, is it realistically going to pay the rent, the car payment, the electric bill? “Bills, Bills, Bills!” Destiny’s Child emphasized that back in 1999 with their The Writings on the Wall classic! “Can you pay my bills…If you did then maybe we could chill / I don’t think you do / So, you and me are through.”
Get real Fifth Harmony – “tighten up” those harmonies! Lacking in substance or authentic emotion, “Work From Home” is the exemplification of sex on the track, built upon slang and swagger, and ultimately constructed tastefully if ridiculously and unrealistically. It’s good for flirty, and suggestive fun, but prominent innuendo inhibits it from being transcendent.
2) Rihanna, “Kiss It Better” (Anti, 2016)
Simply say the title “Kiss It Better” to yourself. Then, ask yourself, doesn’t it totally sound like child’s play? Of course it does because as children, many of us can remember mommy saying that she’ll “kiss it better,” referring to a “boo boo!” BUT the all-powerful innuendo gods and/or the pop songwriting/producing gods definitely weren’t writing an innocent pop song. Are there many innocent pop songs anymore? That’s a big, fat, bloated NO. Innocence in modern day pop? NEVER!
“Boy, ya know that you always do it right” definitely isn’t referencing morality but rather the quality of “the act.” Face it, the double entendre is amplified to the nth degree, causing every lyric to be “read into.” “Do” simply isn’t do anymore, it’s “doing it.” “What are you willing to do? / Oh, tell me what you’re willing to do / (Kiss it, kiss it better, baby).” Translation – that three-letter word, sex. Yeah, Rihanna’s “Been waitin’ on that sunshine” alright!
3) One Direction, “No Control” (Four, 2014)
After a while, don’t all boy banders get sick of all the sweet bubblegum mess? Still, every boyband has to save face, particularly if it’s at a transitional point of their career – the great in-between of the tween years and young adulthood. That young adulthood means that they are just dying to sing about sex, likely something many have already been “doing” beyond closed doors. To cut to the chase, if “No Control” is supposed to be masking One Direction’s horniness, it does a poor job.
It’s clear lyrically that One Direction mean business. They aren’t singing about emotions but rather lust and the physical reactions, rather stimulation behind it. There’s no way that One Direction gets an “innocence” pass on lyric, “Waking up, beside you I’m a loaded gun, I can’t contain this anymore / I’m all yours, I’ve got no control.” “Loaded gun” hey? Doesn’t seem to be one that shoots bullets…
It gets even more sensual, unsurprisingly. “Taste, on my tongue / I don’t want to wash away the night before.” What is that taste, pray tell? Maybe there’s less sexually-oriented activities that can be interpreted from such a line, but does that even seem possible from twentysomethings? Nah! This is Generation Y after all.
4) R. Kelly featuring Juicy J, “Marching Band” (The Buffet, 2015)
Anytime the name R. Kelly is associated with something, save for “I Believe I Can Fly,” you can typically associate it with sex. In the case of “Marching Band,” Kelly, along with equally salacious bud Juicy J (the “Bandz A Make Her Dance” dude), turn the marching band into a reference to loud sex to put it bluntly. Only R. Kelly could make a great activity for the youth of America steamy.
“She blow me like a tuba / I beat it up like a snare drum,” he boasts on the hook, continuing, “that girl make me want it / cause every time we in the bedroom / it be soundin’ like a marching band.” Geez Louise! R. Kelly manages to cover the whole session in the memorable, naughty chorus. Juicy J “gets it in” as well on his guest verse: “She like it on her chin like a violin…wetter than a river and I’m divin’ in.” Give Juicy J credit for the violin playing position…
5) Ty Dolla $ign, “Horses in the Stable” (Free TC, 2016)
Objectifying women is nothing new to urban music – it’s been happening for years now. Ty Dolla $ign does just that on “Horse in the Stable,” in shameful fashion. Guess who the “horses” are that Ty Dolla $ign references? Women. Ty Dolla $ign comes off as your typical, confident and cocky artist, naming off women throughout the course of “Horses in the Stable” who he can bed. “I told her give me something good I might come back / I snap my finger they be on me just like that,” he sings, before the cringe worthy, if honest chorus, “Horses in the stable, horses in the stable / that I can ride, ooh anytime.”
Naturally, Ty Dolla $ign can’t resist non-descriptive references. In the second verse when he references “Nicki,” he describes her, um, goods. To Ty’s credit on this song chocked full up of empty hook ups, at least he admits he’s a dog: “They know the way that I’m living ain’t right / you just another girl and this is just another night.” Of course, he later contradicts himself when he sings, “She said she lookin’ for a real one / I told her that she found a real one,” before the mention of relationships.
6) Selena Gomez featuring A$AP Rocky, “Good for You” (Revival, 2015)
Even before she was stricken with the inability to “keep her hands to herself,” Selena Gomez was dabbling in innuendo. Prior to her Revival album, Selena Gomez was moving past her Disney years where music was concerned. “Come and Get It” (Stars Dance, 2014) suffered from copycatting Rihanna stylistically, but it didn’t take too many brain cells to know what Gomez was asking men to “come and get…na na na na…” “Good for You,” the promo single from Revival, is clearly meant to titillate, though it’s more tasteful than some of the other selections that grace this list.
If it’s not obvious from the title, Selena Gomez wants to “look good” for her man – it’s all about sex-appeal. “Now you say I got a touch / so good, so good / make you never wanna leave…” clearly plays on the erotic and there’s no way that Gomez can deny it. It gets even steamier when Gomez asserts she’s “gonna wear that dress you like, skin-tight” and later “leave this dress a mess on the floor.” “Woo,” to quote Rihanna! The most poetic line comes when Gomez says, “and syncopate my skin to your heart beating.” If Gomez didn’t put on a show all herself, A$AP Rocky’s edgy guest verse confirms “what’s going down.”
7) Nicki Minaj featuring Beyoncé, “Feeling Myself” (The Pinkprint, 2014)
Nicki Minaj seems to nail innuendo like it’s nothing. In fact, she often exceeds expectations, going above and beyond when it comes to rapping or singing about sex. “Feeling Myself” is a song that is mostly about Minaj and compadre Beyoncé being self-confident because of what they’ve achieved, particularly as women. That message is, hence, empowering or minimally semi-empowering. The problem is, the title itself is suggestive, and if truth be told, Nicki Minaj wants listeners to open Pandora’s Box.
Nicki Minaj doesn’t linger on the self-stimulatory suggestiveness, but she doesn’t waste the opportunity either: “Feelin’ myself, back off, cause I’m feelin’ myself, jack off / and he think about me when he whacks off…” Minaj also makes another reference to sex later on, spitting, “Drippin on that work, trippin’ off that perc / flippin’ up my skirt and I be whippin’ all that work.” As for Queen Bey, her most risqué lyric is simply the stupidly infectious repetitive hook, “I’m feelin’ myself, I’m feelin’ myself.” Even if it’s a tame reference, how can the mind not be in the gutter?
It is also worth noting, on the same album Minaj has another song “dripping” in innuendo. That would be “Get On Your Knees,” featuring Ariana Grande. Oh Nicki! Why does Prince’s “Darling Nikki” suddenly come to mind? Furthermore, what is it with the eroticism behind the name Nikki spelled in any form. The-Dream also has a song named “Nikki.”
8) Miguel, “Coffee” (Wildheart, 2015)
Let’s “keep it 100” here. Few do sex better than Miguel…lyrically that is. The man has a voice that was made to woo women and make the men jealous they lack his game and finesse. On his third album Wildheart, for better or worse, Miguel amplified the sex to greater heights. One of his sexiest moments came with single “Coffee,” which definitely had little to do with Folgers, Maxwell House, or Starbucks.
Over the course of “Coffee,” Miguel progresses the narrative of both the emotional and physical relationship. While he manages a balance and doesn’t make “Coffee” merely carnal, it ends up there, which was Miguel’s goal. The innuendo is poetic, particularly when Miguel sings, “Wordplay, turns into gunplay / and gunplay turns into pillow talk / and pillow talk turns into sweet dreams / sweet dreams turns into coffee in the morning.” The reference to “coffee in the morning” suggests a night of play and perhaps even an early morning session. The best line comes care of the blasphemous “Old souls we found a new religion / now I’m swimming in that sin, that’s baptism…” Yeah, pastors everywhere would probably cringe.
9) Zayn, “Pillowtalk” (Mind of Mine, 2016)
Zayn isn’t exactly subtle about his status in life, evidenced on his debut album Mind of Mine’s first single, “Pillowtalk.” Here, the former member of One Direction gone solo expresses his intentions and wants the world to know. What are those intentions? He’s young but grown and enjoys having sex. “Pillowtalk” is honestly about little more than what’s happening in his bedroom, which is mature by boy band standards but arguably shallow as far as artistic maturity.
Zayn makes it clear he doesn’t give two flips who knows about his endeavors from the jump:“Climb on board / we’ll go slow and high tempo / light and dark / hold me hard and mellow.” The innuendo is “hard-hitting” and on-point, and continues throughout, particularly with the age-old, “So we’ll piss off the neighbors…” because of loud lovemaking. Zayn’s stand is clearest when he pounds his chest singing, “Yeah, reckless behavior / a place that is so pure, so dirty and raw / in the bed all day, bed all day, bed all day / f*cking and fighting on / it’s our paradise and it’s our war zone / it’s our paradise and it’s our war zone.”
10) Ariana Grande featuring Nicki Minaj, “Side To Side” (Dangerous Woman, 2016)
Could Ariana Grande be metaphorically speaking on “Side to Side?” Yes, BUT let’s not forget that this is pop music people! Pop looks for every opportunity to exploit innuendo and “Side To Side” is a Victorious candidate (catch that?). Arguably, Grande does incorporate a dash of emotional, but her own lack of requirement for saying much helps confirm her physical desires. “Side to Side” certainly isn’t a masterclass on depth. Maybe it’s not as shallow as a pond, but it’s definitely not nearly as deep as the lake and certainly not the ocean! “And boy I got ya / cause to night I’m making deals with the devil / and I know it’s gonna get me in trouble / just as long as you know you got me.”
The same lyrics that offer “Side to Side” potential to be wholesomeness also play to the pleasures of the bedroom on the chorus: “I’ve been here all night / I’ve been here all day / and boy, got me walkin’ side to side.” Does that sound like the Ariana Grande we’ve come to know? No, but like many child and teen celebrities, Grande seeks to reinvent herself, hence establishing herself to be a Dangerous Woman. Adding Nicki Minaj only confirms the sexual nature of the song, not to mention Grande’s desire to ‘mature’: “…wrist icicle, ride dick bicycle / come true yo, get this type of blow / if you wanna Minaj I got a tricycle.”
11) R. Kelly, “Cookie” (Black Panties, 2013)
It takes a truly libidinous artist to make the list twice, even with numerous other innuendo-laden songs. R. Kelly manages to do the job with one of the most brutally honest songs of his career. First off, Kelly’s 2013 album Black Panties found the “I Believe I Can Fly” songwriter in sexual overdrive. The opening song, “Legs Shakin’” referenced cunnilingus. Guess what, so does filthy follow up “Cookie.”
The most disturbing part of “Cookie” is that it violates the Oreo. How are you going to violate arguably “milk’s favorite cookie” with filth? Kelly manages to do so, singing, “Mmm, like an Oreo / I love to lick the middle like an Oreo / Oreo, Oreo, like an Oreo / I wanna bite it, and get inside it (‘til I get you gone).” It’s clear Kelly isn’t talking about a real Oreo or cookies for that matter, but he clearly has his hands – rather his mouth – “in the cookie jar.”
It gets worse for the R&B singer/songwriter. Rather than making “Cookie” sexy, he comes over as prurient. “You wonder how I’m the best and can do all this with my mouth,” he sings at one point, later proclaiming himself to be “a cookie monster,” and ultimately asserts, “My bed can be your stage. And I’mma make you a star / your legs in the air and my hands all up in your cookie jar.” Mariah Carey’s said it best: “O.O.C.”