You wanna?… If you catch my drift: an honest review of sexual metaphors in songs
Words by Larisa Forgac
In the famous words of Salt-N-Pepa: let’s talk about sex, baby! When you’re down to clown, in a mood for a root, or getting jiggy with it, you always need a good song to get you in the right mindset. Let’s be honest, when you break it down to its bare essentials, sex is actually not all that appealing. But God does it sell like hotcakes, especially when you package it nicely in a couple of catchy lines. Now, I touch myself and My neck, my back may be cult classics in music, but they are hardly something you can play at a shopping centre for some light-hearted family enjoyment.
That’s where metaphors come in of course! Want to write a song about your latest erotic escapades but still want that sweet radio licence cash influx? No problem: run those nasty words through several layers of obfuscation and call it a day. Unfortunately, sex themed songs are so abundant that as an artist you may struggle to find a well-crafted turn of phrase to describe the old hanky panky. I’m about to go through some examples of lyrics that hit the spot (if you know what I mean) and others that could use some polishing in this very important review of modern song writing, so buckle up and enjoy the ride ;)
“I’ll take you to the candy shop
I’ll let you lick the lollypop”
- Candy Shop, 50 Cent
I am purposely leaving out the rest of the song because it utterly destroys any bit of nuance that this line offers. An inaccurate and misleading description of the taste and shape of male genitalia — likely to lead to disappointment for young people down the line. Overall, relatively safe metaphor. Expect your kids to sing this one around the house until realisation hits them in adulthood.
“Yeah I bloom, I bloom just for you
I bloom, just for you”
- Bloom, Troye Sivan
Songs that make you go “Ah” upon closer inspection. Beautiful, vivid imagery throughout the song. If you can make anal sex sound pretty, you are doing something right. Bonus points for this line being a popular, but oh-so misunderstood, feature of a lot of Insta girl’s bios. No Kayla, he is not talking about flowers.
“Can you blow my whistle baby, whistle baby…
You just put your lips together
And you come real close”
- Whistle, Flo Rida
Probably rates 10/10 as an actual instruction manual on how to blow a whistle. Seems a bit desperate for some action but is at least polite enough to ask if the person can blow his whistle. If this was in a year 12 English essay, not only would the child’s parents get a call from the school, but the child would fail the assignment for using lazy metaphors. Really Flo Rida, you can’t just cross out the word ‘dick’ from a sentence and replace it with an inanimate object.
“It was the summer of ‘69”
- Summer of ’69, Bryan Adams
Verdict: Nice, 69/69
I have only praise for this one. Hidden in plain sight and inconspicuous. Makes your parents say, “man the summer of ’69 really was great”. Asking your parents if they know the actual meaning of the song can backfire, as they might just say that they are perfectly aware and how are you meant to live with them and yourself after that?
“Let’s have some fun this beat is sick
I wanna take a ride on your disco stick”
- LoveGame, Lady Gaga
Horny on main; very upfront and doesn’t beat around the bush. This gets a two because Lady Gaga made a metaphor out of an object that doesn’t exist. What is a disco stick? No one knows, but now you know it at least must be some phallic shaped apparatus. This would definitely prompt questions from children. “What’s a disco stick mummy?” “I don’t know Tommy, mummy doesn’t go to disco, oh look ice cream!”
“You don’t gotta go to work, work, work…
We can work from home, oh, oh, oh, oh”
- Work from home, Fifth Harmony
I can’t pass up such a good double entendre. This song really got second wind when we went into lockdown, so now you can both work and “work” from home — but make sure you keep that healthy work/life balance. Very well done, serves both as a great representation of how much effort goes into sex, and offers genuine advice for pandemic safety. The only downside is that this might be used by “hip” and “with it” work bosses as a Facebook meme.
So there you have it. If you are a true lyrical connoisseur, I hope this review rubbed you the right way. And don’t forget, next time you get together with your friends, and excellent ice breaker is always: “You know which song is actually about sex?”