It may have been one of yesterday’s dafter news stories – but even so, the revelation that the, uh, ‘relieved’ noises you can hear at the end of Notorious BIG’s ‘Respect’ are indeed genuine, sparked a discussion about songs that feature the sounds of sex, both real and simulated.
After all, Notorious BIG is not the only artist to get jiggy in the studio and record the results. In 1986, Guns N’Roses’ Axl Rose invited so-called “queen of the underground”, Adriana Smith, to an LA studio. The singer then recorded the ensuing 30-minute ‘encounter’, some of which audibly made its way onto the track ‘Rocket Queen’ – a childish stunt made all the more grubby and unpleasant by the fact that Smith was going out with luckless GN’R drummer Steven Adler at the time.
Axl Rose: let’s hope he wasn’t wearing those shorts at the time
Years later, Smith moved to San Diego, had a child and became a drugs counsellor. She now fronts her own hard-rock band, Ghost In The Graveyard.
Less ‘real’ but no less graphic are Donna Summer’s breathless moans in her 1975 hit ‘Love To Love You Baby’. Many have commented on Summer’s abandon on this track – as a piece of acting, it surpasses Meg Ryan – but perhaps this was because Summer never imagined her performance would ever be released: it was intended as a demo for another artist, possibly Penny McLean.
Still, she certainly threw herself into the role. A diligent journalist from Time Magazine once counted 22 ‘orgasms’ in the full 17-minute version.
The early ’70s was in fact a golden age for explicit disco. Chackachas’ ‘Jungle Fever’, released in 1972, sold over a million copies in the US, despite receiving precious little airplay on account of the sounds of mounting female pleasure that run right through it.
17 years later a different form of US club music – Chicago house – birthed ‘French Kiss’ by Lil Louis, a song that even now has the power to get people a little hot under the collar. It became an unlikely chart hit in the UK, reaching Number Two. I once heard it in a clothes shop with my mum. I was 10. That was an awkward moment, I can tell you.
Still, it least the sound effects in ‘French Kiss’ serve a purpose. In a club setting, if not a Saturday afternoon in Next, you can see how it would work. The same can’t be said for (ahem) ‘Machine Screw’, a 30-second song by drone-metallers Type O Negative that acts as a titillating curtain-raiser to what turns out to be a deeply un-sexy album (‘Bloody Kisses’) of dirgelike goth metal.
Phew. Are there any other examples? (Obviously there are lots of songs with sexy vocals, from ‘Je T’aime… Moi Non Plus’ to Madonna’s ‘Justify My Love’, but I’m not sure they’re in the same league, in terms of explicitness).