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TURN IT UP WITH THE PER­FECT SEX PLAYLIST

WHY BUILD­ING THE PER­FECT SEX PLAYLIST CAN BRING MORE THAN JUST BEATS TO YOUR BED­ROOM. “IF A GUY JUST WENT FOR IT AND PUT ON BEY­ONCÉ’S AL­BUM, I’D RIDE HIM LIKE A SURF­BOARD,” SAYS MELISSA, 24.

CRE­AT­ING THE PROPER MUSICAL ac­com­pa­ni­ment for a ro­man­tic evening is ev­ery bit as crit­i­cal as wash­ing the sheets. The wrong songs could send your po­ten­tial bed­mate troop­ing out into the night, while a well-con­sid­ered playlist can help set just the right vibe. You don’t want to be the guy clue­lessly stream­ing free Spo­tify or Pan­dora, get­ting as­saulted by mood-ru­in­ing ads for a lo­cal com­mu­nity col­lege or the new Imag­ine Dragons al­bum ev­ery 10 min­utes, do you? Here­with, some es­sen­tial rules for con­struct­ing the ul­ti­mate “sexxxy” playlist:

“For me, it’s a lot of Frank Ocean, the Knife, Zola Je­sus, the Na­tional— ba­si­cally, the same songs you’d play if you suf­fer from chronic de­pres­sion,” says co­me­dian Whit­ney Cum­mings. “The hard­est part is nam­ing it so it’s not just called ‘Sex Mix’ on your com­puter.” For Chan­ning Ta­tum, who has been widely linked to a bump-and-grind-y YouTube col­lec­tion, “2014 Sex Songs Mix Bed­room Magic,” it’s likely Chris Brown, Lu­dacris, and Trey Songz. And for Katy Perry, it’s all about the clas­sics: “Marvin Gaye and Jeff Buck­ley,” she has said, adding that she’s also ad­dicted to the raunchy bed­room throb of the Weeknd’s “Of­ten.”

“That song is en­tirely about get­ting head from a dude,” raves Sarah Le­witinn, also known as Ul­tra­gr­rrl, a New York City mu­sic di­rec­tor for Aritzia. “Ba­si­cally, the Weeknd is the new Prince, the new R. Kelly. You re­ally can’t go wrong.”

One of the ad­van­tages of liv­ing in a so­ci­ety where some­one, some­where, is al­ways lis­ten­ing, is that we no longer have to won­der how our be­tween-the-sheets playlists com­pare to ev­ery­one else’s; that’s what Spo­tify is for. The stream­ing gi­ant re­cently re­vealed the tracks most com­monly in­cluded in its 2.5 mil­lion user-cre­ated sex playlists. “In­tro,” the moody in­stru­men­tal by the XX, claimed the num­ber one spot. (“They should just re­name that band XXX,” cracks Cum­mings.) Also in the top 10 were songs by Cold­play, Chet Faker, and Hozier. “That’s dis­turb­ing,” says Melissa, a 24-year-old fash­ion buyer. “I don’t want some­one thrust­ing into me while Hozier sings, ‘Take me to church.’ It’s just not right.”

The “right” mix gen­er­ally de­pends on the woman in ques­tion. “If a guy just went for it and put on Bey­oncé’s al­bum, I’d ride him like a surf­board,” en­thuses Melissa, while Le­witinn views that par­tic­u­lar choice as send­ing a ques­tion­able sig­nal about a man’s ori­en­ta­tion. Genevieve, 25, who works in re­tail, prefers to have sex “while lis­ten­ing to some­thing gangsta—j. Cole, Too $hort, Rick Ross, Mac Dre, Ja Rule. I could do that for the rest of my life and be to­tally con­tent.” She still feels a spe­cial in­vig­o­ra­tion when­ever she hears the Wu-tang Clan, as it brings back fond, mul­ti­or­gas­mic mem­o­ries of an af­ter­noon spent vig­or­ously cop­u­lat­ing to three al­bums’ worth of the Wu. But such old­school boom-bap­pery doesn’t do it for Cum­mings: “Most rap is a pretty big no-no for me, be­cause it’s all about bitches and hos. Also, ob­vi­ously you want me to go at a speed that is go­ing to hurt my back.”

Hey, you can’t please ev­ery­one! For­tu­nately, there’s ba­sic agree­ment on sex-playlist guide­lines:

Plan for two dis­tinct phases. The ideal playlist ac­counts for fore­play and the main event. Kick it off with some­thing “sooth­ing and vibe-y,” Melissa ad­vises. Think Drake or Ken­drick La­mar. “Then, as things heat up, it gets more sen­sual, more bass-y.” (Hint: That’s when you segue to the new D’an­gelo al­bum.)

Don’t play any­thing too dis­tract­ing. “The mu­sic should be a com­ple­ment, not a dis­trac­tion,” Le­witinn says. This means no songs with a lot of nos­tal­gic sig­nif­i­cance. “You don’t want half­way through sex for me to be like, ‘Oh, shit! This was my jam!’” Cum­mings says. “No Mon­tell Jor­dan’s ‘This Is How We Do It.’ One time a guy put on Spo­tify with me and ‘No Dig­gity’ came on, and I could not stop laugh­ing, be­cause in high school that was my an­them.”

Main­tain a steady rhythm. “Keep it all gen­er­ally the same tempo,” Cum­mings says. “If you jump right from Beck to Nine Inch Nails, I’m go­ing to feel pres­sure to change our tempo.”

Don’t make your playlist too long. Thirty to 45 min­utes is fine, un­less you’re aim­ing for some kind of St­ing-style tantric-sex marathon (even if you are, never play St­ing’s solo al­bums dur­ing sex; it’s a sci­en­tific fact that your pe­nis will re­cede back into your body). “Just to be safe, the last 10 min­utes should be a lit­tle more sub­tle. I’m way more wor­ried about an in­tense song ru­in­ing my af­ter-sex re­lax­ation than a slower song com­ing on in the mid­dle of hav­ing sex, be­cause I prob­a­bly won’t no­tice that any­way,” Melissa adds.

Don’t skip mu­sic in fa­vor of ill-con­sid­ered back­ground TV. “One time I had sex with a guy while Fam­ily Guy was on, and they were singing that song ‘You Have Full-blown AIDS,’” re­calls Le­witinn. “Not cool.”

Bot­tom line: Just pay at­ten­tion. If she’s not feel­ing that LCD Soundsys­tem remix or No­to­ri­ous B.I.G. mash-up for what­ever rea­son, just grab your phone off the night­stand and skip it.

“It’s a lot like the feel­ing-out process in an MMA fight: Does she want to keep this stand­ing up, or take it to the ground?” muses Nick, a 35-year-old writer who en­joys a for­mi­da­ble track record in the bed­room.

“When it comes time to push play and go at it, there’s not a chance your mix will ex­actly match the act it­self. But you’re still get­ting laid, right? If any­one ever stopped bang­ing you and blamed the mix—i hate to break it to you, dude, but it prob­a­bly wasn’t the mix.”

Cum­mings agrees. “Af­ter all, if you rely too much on mu­sic, maybe you just need to get bet­ter at sex.” ■

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