Let me begin by saying this: sex is fucking great. No complaints here. But are drugs, money, and sex appeal as incredible and life-changing as the Top Billboard songs make them out to be? Nah.
As I expected, I was able to find a ton of research and information about this particular topic, so I’ll leave the links to those pages below. I want to incorporate a lot of my own thoughts and opinions into this article, but these additional findings are interesting!
First and foremost, 92% of all Top Ten Billboard songs are about sex. Sex appeal, arousal, body parts, f*cking bitches, yada yada yada, you get it. You know what DOESN’T make up 92% of my time? All and any of these above. It maybe takes up about 5% of my daily life and thought process. Let’s make a pie chart real quick, just for shits.
I can’t speak for everyone, of course, but I personally spend more time consumed with the overbearing existential dread of life rather than hooking up with babes at the club. So why are songs so obsessed with sex and drugs, you may ask? Because escapism.
When the stress and strife of average life becomes too much to handle, we humans like to seek relief and distraction. For some people, unfortunately, it’s drugs and other extremities, but it doesn’t always have to be negative. I, for example, find a lot of relief and joy in playing The Sims 4. It’s quite literally an escape from reality, and a way for me to distract my mind from the distress of everyday life. In healthy, reasonable amounts, escapism can be okay, and it’s also completely natural human behavior. Sex more or less works the same way, especially in the form of music. Sex is a form of release, euphoria, fantasy, and yes, distraction. As listeners, it’s easy to get attached to these attractive subjects, and find personal connection within them.
Okay, fair enough. I sure do like using fantasizing as a way to escape from everyday life. But still, ninety-two percent seems a bit extreme. I mean, there’s only so many times I can hear someone sing about how great sex is before it starts to seem redundant. Especially when these songs portray sex as a fix-all to our problems. I’m sorry to break it to you, but if you’re having a shitty week, some good sex isn’t going to change the fact that you’re having a shitty week. It might distract you for a little while (ESCAPISM!), but it’s not going to “fix everything” the way sexual songs can condition us to feel. Like I said, sex is damn fun, but it’s not going to be the solution to every problem, every single time. Sometimes, it is good to look your feelings straight in the eye and just experience them, and accept them.
There is another reason why sex is so popular in music, and this one is actually more scientific-based. I was just checking out an article on this subject by The Atlantic, and I came across an interesting quote by SUNY Albany psychology professor Dawn R. Hobbs. “Approximately 92% of the 174 songs that made it into the [Billboard] Top 10 in 2009 contained reproductive messages”, he says.
So, there you have it. There may be a link between our subconscious biological drive for reproduction and our obsession with sexual songs. It certainly evokes strong emotion in listeners, but could there also be something deeper? Are we psychologically pleased, subconsciously or not, by music that moves us to reproduce? It seems logical to me.
Like I said, there’s a ton of research on this topic, so feel free to do some research yourself. I’ve included some source links below, including another article I published on the topic of escapism. As always, leave your thoughts below!
Sources & stuff to check out!
The Psychology of the Sims (and more on escapism): https://diplomatsdigest.wordpress.com/2019/01/31/the-psychology-of-the-sims/
Coming up next: The Relationship Between ADHD and GAD