Pop’s Dirtiest Lyrics: The Good, the Bad and the Absolutely Bonkers
Good evening, my name’s Dan Hackett and I’d like to welcome you to Sexual Lyrics, with me, Daniel Scott Hackett. I’ll be your host tonight as we spiral madly through the anals of history to chart the gleeful rise of smut in pop. So turn on, tune in, strap in and strap on. Let’s play that spunky music.
Arianna Grande’s latest single, 34+35, is quite lovely at the outset. I found myself nodding along and smiling vacantly when I first heard it. ‘This sounds rather jolly,’ I thought to myself, tapping my hands on my thighs, ‘Quite festive. Something to play at Christmas with the family’. And then the chorus hit:
Can you stay up all night?
Fuck me til the daylight
Means I wanna 69 wit ya, no shit
Until that point the lyrics had been things like ‘you gotta be strong for me boy’ or ‘I can go for hours’ or whatever; standard pop lines that are vaguely sexy yet stop short of enraging purple-faced Daily Mail readers. In the chorus, however, Grande’s latest banger has all the subtlety of a battering ram to the ballbag. She’s said in interviews that the song is meant to be ridiculous, but the blatancy of the lyrics feels like cheating, somehow. You’re supposed to sing about shagging with clever wordplay, double-entendres, puns, and weird extended metaphors – that’s where the fun is Arianna!
Well, whatever. This is as good an excuse as any to take a look at some of the muckiest lyrics in history. Hooray!
The Sexual Lyrics Timeline
WAP – Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion 2020
My head game is fire, punani Dasani
It’s goin’ in dry, and it’s comin’ out soggy
I ride on that thing like the cops is behind me
I spit on his mic’ and now he tryna sign me
Yeah there’s no nuance to be found, surprisingly, in a song titled Wet Ass Pussy. Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion get away with it, however, because the lyrics – arguably the most aggressively sexual lyrics ever written – are packed with wit, creativity and wildly over-the-top imagery. I mean:
Put this pussy right in yo’ face
Swipe your nose like a credit card
That’s just… that’s just the most fantastic piece of poetry I’ve ever seen. Lord Byron would convulse with envy.
Sweet Dreams TN – Last Shadow Puppets 2016
Baby we ought to fuck
Seven years of bad luck
Out the parlour room mirror
Could I have made it any clearer?
No Alexander, you could not. Since the massive-haired coke-fuelled glam rockers of the 70s and 80s faded away, rock and roll has been oddly asexual. By the time Oasis and Nirvana were at the top of their game in the 90s, the pairing of sexual lyrics with distorted guitar music seemed almost nonsensical. There was nothing remotely horny about the brothers Gallagher; their music is less ‘glass of red by a roaring fire’ and more ‘8 pack of Fosters and Match of the Day’. It’s the very antithesis of Shag Music. The noughties were more of the same: a succession of bushy haired boys singing to the nation about drinking tins and how shite their hometowns are. Nobody wants to fuck Jake Bugg. Nobody in the world.
Anyway: Alex Turner brought us out of that rut with Last Shadow Puppets, and with each successive album he gives that much less of a shit about revealing his inner shagger. Gods be praised; rock and roll is sexy again.
Whistle – Flo Rida 2012
Show me your perfect pitch, you got it my banjo
Talented with your lips, like you blew out a candle
Flo Rida here, just rappin’ about his banjo string. Now, I believe it would occur to very few males to write a song about their frenulum. Even fewer would actually have the confidence to do it. But then perhaps that’s why Mr Rida is living in a very large mansion in Los Angeles somewhere, and you and I are not.
S&M – Rihanna 2010
Cause I may be bad, but I’m perfectly good at it
Sex in the air, I don’t care, I love the smell of it
Sticks and stones may break my bones
But chains and whips excite me
Rihanna doesn’t write her own songs, to my understanding, which means that some speccy bloke in a music studio actually handed her a sheet of paper which included the lyric ‘Sex in the air, I don’t care, I love the smell of it’, and Rihanna read it and nodded and said ‘Yes, these are good and not at all weird things to sing’, and then entered the recording booth to belt them out. Let me tell you something. As somebody who lived in Berlin for a year and wandered into a couple of strange, strange nightclubs while there: you don’t want to smell sex in the air. Do you know what a dancefloor full of semi-nude men smells like? Gooch. It smells like gooch.
And speaking of…
My Neck, My Back – Khia 2001
My neck, my back
Lick my pussy and my crack
Long before Flo Rida rapped about his banjo string, Khia was up in the studio spitting flows about her the crack of her arse. I never quite understood why, of all the body parts she could have listed, ‘crack’ made the cut lyrically. I suppose it’s because it rhymes with ‘back’. But she could have changed ‘back’, to, oh I don’t know, nips. My neck, my nips, my minge and… finger… tips?
I mean yeah, fine, fingertips is weird. But at least it’s not the crack of your arse. There aren’t even any nerve endings in the crack of your arse! Khia doesn’t specify her arse hole, which would constitute rimming and be, like, a known sexual thing. She just wants the crack licked. Just the sweatiest place on her. Why, Khia. Why.
Fuck the Pain Away – Peaches 2000
Suckin’ on my titties like you wanted me
Calling me, all the time like Blondie
Check out my Chrissie behind, it’s fine all of the time
Like sex on the beaches
What else is in the teaches of peaches? Huh? What?
Though this massive farty-bass banger is her most iconic track, any of Peaches’ songs could feature on a dirtiest lyrics list. While this particular song is a statement of sex-positive feminism, her back catalogue is packed with equally shag-tastic hits like Dick in the Air, Vaginoplasty, and Tent in your Pants. Even her album titles would have your nana spitting out her Earl Grey: Rub, Fatherfucker, and – my personal favourite – Impeach My Bush. What a woman.
The Bad Touch – The Bloodhound Gang 1999
Coming quicker than Fed Ex
Never reaching apex
Like Coca-Cola stock you are inclined
To make me rise an hour early just like Daylight Saving Time
The Bad Touch, which seemed so explicit once upon a time, is actually very PG if you take a gander at the would-be sexual lyrics today. The guy’s just being lusty via confusing stock market metaphors; it’s pretty harmless stuff. Maybe that’s why I vividly recall this song being blasted at all my primary school discos.
Fuck man, do you remember school discos?! Flame shirts and a fuckload of hair gel? Sliding on your knees? Flashing trainers? And the grand finale would always be Puppy Love by S Club Juniors and everyone would sway to it and then someone would cry and then the lights would go up and it’d be like 4pm and daylight and you’d all pull your coats on and go home with your parents and feel bizarrely hungover? Did that… did that happen or did I dream it?
Soft and Wet – Prince 1978
You’re just as soft as a lion tamed
You’re just as wet as the evening rain
How will I take it when you call my name?
Your love is driving me, driving me insane
I could probably pluck any Prince song out of the ether and it would have lyrics about lapping up waterfalls and showering in volcanic eruptions and whatnot; that was kind of his bread and butter. I suppose when you can play dozens of instruments and can bust out guitar licks like a fiery banshee, you get to sing whatever you damn well please.
Note: If you take one thing away from this article, make it this: listen to this track. It’s so GOOD.
Crosstown Traffic – Jimi Hendrix 1968
Look, most of Hendrix’s songs were Shag Songs in some form or other, but Crosstown Traffic is the best thanks to its confusing usage of an extended driving metaphor. I’m sorry Rihanna, I loved Shut Up and Drive an embarrassing amount, but you’ve been well and truly out-metaphored by Jimi here.
I’m not the only soul who’s accused of hit and run,
Tire tracks all across your back baby, I can see you had your fun.
But darling, can’t you see my signals turn from green to red
And with you I can see a traffic jam straight up ahead.
The whole track is horny as hell, and yet somehow still feels like he’s only ever one stanza away from erupting into a fully-fledged roadwork update.
I Love My Wife But Oh! You Kid! – Harry Vin Tilzer and Jimmy Lucas 1909
Now Jonesy was a married man, oh yes, he was,
Sweet girlie on the single plan, I guess, she was,
Now Jonesy stopped and spoke to girlie, Just as old friends often do,
And he said “I’m married, but
That ‘but’ my dear means you.”
One hundred and eleven years before Arianna Grande wrote the line ‘Fuck me til the daylight’, a boundary was broken in the world of music when Harry Von Tilzer and Jimmy Lucas (no idea) wrote ‘I Love My Wife but Oh! You Kid!’, a song about blatant – and gleeful – adultery. The perceived sauciness of the song sent people fucking west. Batshit puritanical Americans were so offended that in Los Angeles the use of the phrase ‘oh you kid’ was ruled to be ‘disturbing the peace’ and could get you jailed, and in Pittsburgh a magistrate ruled that anybody using the phrase in public should be whipped.
How far we’ve come, ey?!
Now: I’ve been trawling the internet for two days writing this, listening to the most harrowing sexual lyrics I’ve ever heard, watching music videos packed with quivering naked flesh, and spiralling into bizarre Wikipedia holes. I had to Google the word ‘frenulum’ to make sure it meant what I thought it did, and I saw a lot of penises and also some tongues, because it turns out you also have a frenulum beneath your tongue. After such a deluge of smut, I now have a sudden urge to take a cold shower and go for a brisk stroll around a stately Victorian garden. I want normality; I want calm; I want cold English stiff-upper-lip sexlessness, dammit.
Perhaps later, when I’ve cleansed my mind of all the fleshy imagery currently whizzing around it, I’ll feel ready to write a Sexual Lyrics Part 2.
May God have mercy on us all.