Sex has long been a popular topic among musicians. But what’s unique about the past few years, 2019 included, is that artists are consciously using their platforms to promote sex positivity. Here are some moments in 2019 where musicians combatted sex-shaming and taught people to embrace their sexual identities.
Ariana Grande Responds to Vogue
Nobody plays the role of sex-positive pop princess like Ariana Grande. She’s long been spreading sex positivity through songs like “Sweetener” and “God is a Woman,” but her biggest sex-positive moment of this year was undoubtedly when Vogue’s Rob Haskell asked what it was like to sing songs like “Side to Side” to nine-year-olds, and she replied, “They’re for sure gonna have it. I promise. I promise that your kid’s gonna have sex. So if she asks you what the song’s about, talk about it.” Talking to kids about sex instead of pretending it doesn’t exist? What a novel idea.
Harry Styles’ “Lights Up” video
The video for the first single from Harry Styles’ second album Fine Line gave people plenty to get excited about. Not only do we get closeups of Styles’ sexy tattooed upper body; it’s being touched by a variety of attractive men and women, leading some fans to dub the song a bisexual anthem. Styles himself hasn’t confirmed this but has said it’s about “freedom” and “self-discovery,” two things our society sorely needs when it comes to sex.
Kablito’s “Yo Nunca te Quise” video
Ecuadorian pop artist Kablito told PAPER in August, when her “Yo Nunca te Quise” video came out, that she intended it to be an ode to self-pleasure. “I thought it was a really cool thing to talk about masturbation and sexuality in women and girls. It’s a topic that we don’t talk about,” she said, explaining that the song is about staying with someone just for the sex, while the video presents the obvious alternative. The imagery is subtle and centers on Kablito’s own self-expression as she feels herself in a bedroom.
Summer Walker’s Over It
There were lots of things to celebrate about singer-songwriter Summer Walker’s debut album, one of them being refreshingly unabashed lyrics (she confronts a demanding lover on “Stretch You Out” and points out double standards of desire on “Girls Need Love”). She told Clash, “I feel like ‘Girls Need Love’ is a song that’s trying to make sure people know that we have an even playing field when it comes to intimacy.”
Doja Cat’s Hot Pink
Doja Cat gave us yet another album full of no-holds-barred sexual empowerment this year. She celebrates the safest form of sex in “Cyber Sex”: “Pussy all pink with a tan / And I play with it ’til my middle fingers are cramped up.” In “Juicy” featuring Tyga, she raps, “Okay, he on his knees, attend the mass / He beg for that, I bend and snap.”
Miley Cyrus’s She Is Coming
Miley’s been standing up for her right to sexual expression ever since she licked a sledgehammer in the “Wrecking Ball” video, but her sex-positivity reached new heights on She Is Coming, an album as full of sexual innuendos as its name would suggest. For the accompanying tour, she released merchandise including a $20 condom and a shirt with her photo behind the words, “she came.”
Teyana Taylor’s “Morning” Featuring Kehlani
For all the songs out there about sex and all their mentions of dicks, it’s refreshing to actually hear the word “clit” in this one: “Talk that shit, play with that clit and watch it rain on you, baby.” Taylor and Kehlani, who both identify as queer, unabashedly love on each other in the sensual video.
Let’s hope for even more sex-positive musical moments in 2020. These artists have certainly set the stage for them.