The 50 Greatest Seduction Songs of All Time

If this list were any sexier, you'd be pregnant.

What makes a song sexy? Does it have to have on-the-nose eroticism, or a more implied, subtle sensuality? Is it the lyrics, or the music itself? These were the lofty questions we asked ourselves as we took to compiling this list. Ultimately, we decided that if a song expressed some kind of romantic or sexual pleading — regardless of how explicit — it qualified. And, of course, it had to be a good song. There's a point of diminishing returns with sexiness: The Divinyls' "I Touch Myself" might be sexy, but that doesn't mean it's good, and that's the spirit with which we took to this list. Seduce your lovers, friends, and enemies with this Spotify playlist and be sure to let us know what we missed in the comments. — The Nerve Editors


50. Madonna, "Justify My Love" (1991)

Madonna might move through different sexual identities as easily as the rest of us change shoes, but this is one of her most forthright. The dissonance of the hook bumps up with some pretty straightforward demands ("I wanna... make love in a train, cross-country") and creates a truly memorable laundry list of lust. — Dustin Bird  

 

49. George Michael, "I Want Your Sex" (1987)

Sometimes the best subtext isn't "sub" at all. When George Michael tells you he wants your sex, you give it to him, damnit. — Alisa Mackay  

 

48. Jay-Z, "I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me)" (2000)

Over an indestructible Neptunes beat and Pharrell's best Curtis Mayfield impression, Jay lays down a litany of come-ons, the best of which might be, "What do you say me, you, and your Clovey glasses go somewhere private where we can discuss fashion?" Why doesn't that ever work for me? — Alex Heigl    

 

47. Bruce Springsteen, "I'm on Fire" (1985)

This slow-burner is so desperate, so haunting, so thick with tossing-in-your-sheets-on-a-sweltering-July-night frustration, that the Boss actually makes rhyming "fire" and "desire" sound original. God, he's good. — Peter Smith  

 

46. Blondie, "Call Me" (1980)

"Call Me" trades the bubbly disco bop of "Heart of Glass" for something more driving and intense; it could almost pass for metal if Debbie Harry weren't singing. I tend to read that title with an implied "or else." — P.S.   

 

45. INXS, "Need You Tonight" (1987)

When this song came out, I was a child, but I knew it was about something... adult. Michael Hutchence's seductive whisper is almost all you need to go a little weak in the knees, but that repetitive guitar and the pleading to "come over here" are just about the most direct a person can be. I thought maybe he wasn't sleeping because it was summer and he was warm and his parents were out of town or something. Until I grew up and realized that "lonely" was grown-up code for "I need to get laid right now." — A.M.  

 

44. The Isley Brothers, "Between the Sheets" (1983)

 

This song's incredibly smooth production has been ransacked by hip-hop beatmakers everywhere, and it's hard not to see why: deep, velvety bass, and synthesized handclaps lay down a bed for Ron Isley's beautiful vocal. This song is practically the blueprint for baby-makin' music. — A.H.    

 

43. The Smiths, "Handsome Devil" (1984)

The young Morrissey's public disavowal of sexuality meant that, of course, his actual songs were positively steaming with thwarted desire. "Hand In Glove" or the still exquisite "This Charming Man" would work just as well, but for sheer head-in-the-library directness, why fight "Handsome Devil?" It's as lively a description as ever written of stepping out into the street and wanting to fuck everything on legs. — P.S.    

 

42. Ginuwine, "Pony" (1996)

Hey DJ: want to make a dance floor full of women absolutely lose their shit? Put on "Pony." Then sit back and watch. There's no better way to find someone who knows how to ride. — D.B.  

 

41. Serge Gainsbourg, "Je T'Aime... Moi Non Plus" 

Yeah, it's kind of a punch line by this point, but a sexy one nonetheless. The romantic, wistful organ and chamber-group strings almost make you forget you're listening to a song whose lyrics translate to "You are the wave, I the naked island." — A.H.   

 

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