by Linda Holmes
Billboard has released its list of the Top 50 Sexiest Songs Of All Time, "just in time for Valentine's Day," as the press release says.
Now, you have to understand, this is not an actual evaluation of sexiness in song. It is based on chart performance of songs that are about sex. In other words, rather than being the sexiest songs of all time, they are the most commercially successful songs of all time that happen to be about sex.
That murderously twisted logic is the explanation for what they have crowned the sexiest song of all time. Enjoy it, after the jump.
You know you want to. Go ahead.
That's right. the sexiest song of all time, says Billboard, is "Physical," by Olivia Newton-John. How can you tell it's sexy? Well, the video features an early shot of someone's madly and mechanically vibrating behind (watch it for yourself if you don't believe me), and that's apparently '80s for "sexy."
Now, I am well aware that the entire workout business is (wink-wink) not really about working out, but if someone were to, for instance, kiss me while this song was playing, I would honestly be laughing so hard that it would probably spoil the moment. Furthermore, if you can hear this song without imagining the "Let's Get Ethical" parody on The Office, you're a better person than I am.
What's on the rest of the list? Well, some of them are arguably sexy if you're getting sexy at, like, TGIFridays, like the Boyz II Men tune "I'll Make Love To You" (#3). Some of them are actually undeniably sexy in spite of taking a fairly straightforward, businesslike approach, like Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On" (#5).
Some of them are things that you can hear in the dentist's office, like Starland Vocal Band's "Afternoon Delight" (#20), meaning they probably aren't that sexy (your dentist may vary).
Naturally, Billboard had to make some judgment calls about what, exactly, was a song about sex. They claim that this just meant "the subject matter of the song is directly related to sex." I can only imagine how many songs had to be reviewed to determine that they did not relate to sex directly. Based on this chart of the top songs of all time overall, they apparently determined that "The Twist," "Smooth," "How Do I Live?" "Mack The Knife," and "Macarena" were not sexy songs. As to "Macarena," I can only say they are attending the wrong wedding receptions.
In some cases, of course, determining that the song was sexy was fairly easy -- take Bell Biv Devoe's "Do Me!" (#23) (with exclamation point, in case the declarative struck you as inadequately forceful) -- while in other cases, it's slightly more subtle, as with Silk's "Freak Me" (#22). Sometimes, you have to work with a somewhat more obscure direct object, as with Akon's "Smack That" (#25).
Some are songs you might not have entirely understood as a kid that look a little different when you're older -- I would award that distinction to the Pointer Sisters' "Slow Hand" (#29), which was popular when I was ten years old and listening to the radio a lot. I'm sure I could have sung along with it, which I only now realize would have been madly, dream-hauntingly creepy.
Also "Sledgehammer" (#31). How embarrassing.
But on the whole, it occurs to me that while these songs are about sex, they are not sexy songs, particularly. Sexy songs would be an entirely different matter, wouldn't they? I'm not sure what I would actually classify as a sexy song, but I'm pretty sure it's not "Physical." Or "Smack That."
So I invite you to participate in the creation of a far superior list of sexy songs, because the Billboard list is making me cry. I'll start you off with LaVern Baker's "Soul On Fire," the first one I thought of.