Creating a sex playlist is daunting.
It is a task that requires careful consideration and curation. In the act of sex, which is perhaps one of the most intimate interactions between two people, moods and vibes determine everything.
Lately I have reassessed my own sex playlists (I assure you, there are many). They have risqué titles, from “Banging Body Beats” to “Songs to be Penetrated To” — please don’t look me up on Spotify — yet despite the fun involved in naming these playlists, I am horrified by what some of them entail. I wonder what turn of a 19-year-old’s mind could have prompted an act as deranged as including Kelly Clarkson’s “Breakaway” or The Pussycat Dolls’ “When I Grow Up” on a sex playlist.
When turning on music during a hookup, one runs the risk of ruining the entire event. Things can become awkward (think: “My Humps” by The Black Eyed Peas) or just downright creepy (think: “Thrift Shop [Macklemore Cover]” by the Kidz Bop Kids). On one occasion where a boy mistakenly queued “Let it Go” from Disney’s “Frozen,” I had to immediately call it quits. Sorry, Idina Menzel, but missionary is already uncomfortable enough.
But sex songs have also been my saving grace. When reviewing my hookup playlists, I am delighted to find the frequent appearance of two artists: Beyoncé and Frank Ocean. For as long as I’ve been having (good) sex, I’ve been doing so with their help. To hear Queen Bey and Frank in the moment is to feel that they are there with me — guiding him into me, guiding me into me.
There was the first time, during the summer before college. I couldn’t come over to his house, nor could he come over to mine, so we got in his sedan and drove to a nearby Ralph’s. We parked away from other cars, by a broken, flickering light pole. This is not how things are supposed to happen, but this is how they did.
In the darkness of the vacant parking lot our movements were tense and intense. He rubbed a pretend itch on his neck so I would look at it, and I did, responding by combing my hair with my fingers. As I spread my legs, my jeans rubbed against the leather seat.
“Can I play some music?” I asked, to break the silence.
“Please,” he replied, kissing me before I got the chance to play a song. I kissed him back and connected my phone to the AUX cord.
Through the car’s speaker played Beyoncé’s “Blow” (“Can you eat my skittles? / It’s the sweetest in the middle,” she teased). The sexcapade would be sweet thereon, I was certain.
By the first chorus, the makeout was pretty heavy (thanks, Beyoncé), and I thought it appropriate to reach over and grab his gear stick. I shifted it uneasily. Never before had I driven a manual car, but now seemed an opportune time to learn. Queen Bey would help me.
As we lubed up the engine and prepared the exhaust pipe, the song continued (“I know you never waste a drip”). The night was going to be okay; Mrs. Carter was there with us.
There was the time, last month, when I met up with a boy from Grindr at 3 a.m. Because I was drunk and he was drunk, and bodies tend to feel certain ways and desire certain things when intoxicated, neither of us found our late rendezvous to be particularly irregular.
For a while we sat across each other in his room at USC Village, me at his desk and he on his bed. The lights were on and our legs were crossed and although we each knew the exact reason the other was there — in his apartment, at 3 a.m. on a school night — neither of us could make the first move. I swiveled on his chair, though my head was already spinning.
He got up from the bed and walked toward me before reaching over my shoulder for his MacBook. “Mind if I play some music?” he proposed. I responded in the affirmative and hoped for the best.
Before I even suggested it, he turned on Frank Ocean’s “Pyramids.” I remember this moment because it was the first time I cried before sex.
“Are you okay?” he wondered, likely concerned by my flip-of-a-switch emotions. Even I was surprised by whatever within me was causing this sudden downpour.
“Yeah, I’m fine,” I choked, still crying. “Really, I’m all good.”
Unconvinced, he prodded, “What’s wrong?” Yet nothing was wrong. As quickly as I started crying, I stopped. And then I presumed it was time for us to bang each others’ brains out.
What Frank taught me that night is that sex can be, at once, both erratic and erotic.
It didn’t matter that it was 3 a.m., or that we hooked up first on the floor (“As we march to the rhythm / On the palace floor”) and then again in his shower (“You’re wet and you’re warm / Just like our bathwater”). Passion is not confined to a space or a time or a boy being on his knees and testing his gag reflex to service his man. Passion can be anytime and anywhere. Passion is for everyone.
As it happens, I am right now listening to Beyonce’s “4,” specifically “I Miss You.” It is a melodramatic choice, I know, but listening to this song recalls me to Frank Ocean’s cover.
Frank, in fact, wrote the song for Beyoncé, and it is this kind of collaboration that is the stuff of my dreams, heightening my most orgasmic of experiences. Simply put, Bey and Frank enhance the collaboration of sex. I imagine them singing together: “No matter who you love / It is so simple /A feeling / But it’s everything.”
Ryan Nhu is a sophomore majoring in English and law, history and culture. His column, “Saving Ryan’s Privates,” runs every other Wednesday.