Times have definitely changed, and lots of sex positive pop stars have burst through the door left open by Madonna and those who came before her (pun not intended but it stays). These artists showed us that you CAN be sexual and you CAN be open about it, and that there is absolutely nothing wrong with that! When we make sex and sexuality into something that should be hidden, we create a culture of shame around it, and that's not helpful to anyone. So embrace your sexuality and make sure these sex positive pop stars are on regular rotation in your play lists. We're not responsible for the good stuff that comes after (again, the pun stays).
"Erotica", "S.E.X.", "Justify My Love" - Madonna may have started off as a virgin, but her catalog of sex songs is impressive. She even wrote a book about sex! She's obviously considered the Queen of Pop, but we think she also deserves the crown as Queen of Sex. As Madonna has gotten older, she's matured as an artist, but her songs are still full of sex positive messages and anthems. We love that she hasn't changed, even though it's been nearly forty years since she came onto the pop star scene. If nothing else, Madonna is also good for some pearl-clutching and eyebrow-raising, right?
It was years before I realized what "She Bop" was REALLY about. Which is understandable since it came out when I was like 3. But a catchy pop song about female masturbation? Game-changer. Just peep some of these lyrics: "Wehell I see them every night in tight blue jeans, in the pages of a Blue Boy magazine. Hey I've been thinking of a new sensation, I'm picking up good vibration, Ooh she bop, she bop! Do I want to go out with a lion's roar? Huh, yea, I want to go south and get me some more. Hey, they say that a stitch in time saves nine, they say I better stop or I'll go blind, Ooh she bop, she bop!"
Hailee came (lol) onto the scene as an actress, garnering critical acclaim and an Oscar nod for her role in True Grit. But it's her musical career that gets the most buzz now. "Love Myself" is a song about female empowerment and self-love ... of all kinds. It's refreshing to see such a young artist give no damns about being sexual. We can't help but feel like artists like Hailee are here because of artists like Madonna and Cyndi paving the way. Could you imagine a young girl singing about masturbation if it wasn't for the sex positive pop stars who came before her?!
Lil' Kim's frankness about sex is definitely part of her appeal. She's explicit, unapologetic, and not afraid to go there. It's not all she raps about, but it is a huge part of her identity, and as such, part of her musical catalog. It's refreshing to see a woman rap and sing about sex with as much frankness as a man. Why should they get to have all the fun?! Woman can be powerful and dominant in the bedroom too, and there's no reason we can't ask for what we want. Now, when we don't get what we want, that's when it's time to start bumping some Cyndi Lauper, if you catch my drift.
"I been here all, I been here all night, and boy, got me walking side to side." Well, then. Ariana may have gotten her start on Nickelodeon, but she's definitely all grown up now. I actually love when sex positive pop stars get their start in the industry as innocent young women, and then watching them come into their own as powerful and independent women. Too often, we assume that stars who got their start on networks like Disney or Nickelodeon will stay in the same lane. But are you the same person you were when you were 14? Nope. These women grow up just like we do, except they become sex positive pop stars and we just listen to their bops.
If men can sing about the female body, then why can't women sing about male anatomy? "Anaconda" puts dicks front and center, and it's about damn time. If guys can rap and sing about boobs and vaginas and all the parts of a woman that make us the magical unicorns we are, then why can't women rap and sing about the one part of a man that is actually useful to us?! (Kidding ... sort of.) My favorite part about Nikcki's "Anaconda" is that it's set to the beat of "Baby Got Back", which was a song about women's butts. So Nicki took that song, flipped the script, and made it into a new anthem for the ladies.
From "Partition" to "Drunk in Love" Queen Bey shows us she's not afraid to talk about what gets her juices flowing. Destiny's Child is allllllll the way grown up now. The funny thing is, people still have this idea of who Bey is, based on the music and image she put out back in the early naughts. Again, some people just have a hard time accepting that women grow up and change and come into their own! Beyonce sings about her relationship with husband Jay Z, and they use their relationship to show that a married couple can still be wild in the bedroom with each other. We love her candor, and we love that they are open about their relationship.
"Feels so good being bad, there's no way I'm turning back." I love Rihanna for a lot of reasons, but her giving no fucks and embracing the strong-ass sexual woman she is might be at the top of the list. She's embracing her inner (and outer) dominatrix and singing about taking the lead in the bedroom, which is what so many of us should be doing. "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but chains and whips excite me." Same, Rihanna. HARD SAME. Nothing wrong with getting into it a little rough, as long as both parties give explicit consent, you know what I mean?
Peaches is the quintessential sex positive pop star. "Fuck the Pain Away", "Diddle My Skittle", "I Feel Cream" - she's not afraid to sing about sex in a way that would make most people blush. Her rawness is absolutely part of her appeal. Just consider the lyrics for "Diddle My Skittle": "You think I'm little, want to play me like a fiddle? I'm not so brittle, come diddle my skittle. 'Cause there's only one peach with the hole in the middle. There's only one peach with the hole in the middle." And let's be honest, you can't be gentle when it comes to diddling the skittle.
(Also read: 20 Feel Good Songs That Will Pick You Up Out of Any Funk)
For some reason, when people think of Britney, they either picture that pig-tailed young girl we first met back in 1998, or meltdown Britney circa 2007. But Britney is definitely all grown up now, and her music has evolved right along with her. We've been rooting for her success for years. It can't be easy to grow up in the spotlight, and she's had her share of struggles. So nothing pleases us more to see Britney is a good space and place, making the music we've come to know and love from her. It's a long way from the Mickey Mouse Club, and thank god for that!
Miss Jackson, if ya nasty, and we certainly are. Janet's extensive catalog is full of songs about sex. And who can forget when she simulated masturbation onstage during The Velvet Rope tour? Get yours, Miss Jackson. Janet Jackson is another one of those sex positive pop stars who's been singing about female empowerment and sexual liberation for decades. Honestly, this new crop of sex positive pop stars has artists like Janet, Cyndi, Madonna, and others to thank for being able to be open and honest about their sexuality. And we are thankful to all of them! We appreciate all you do, ladies.
I mean, what's a girl to do when her partner is passed out and she's feeling some kind of way? Pink has always been open about her sexuality, and with songs like "Fingers", she's telling us it's OK for us to be, too. This is the chorus for that song, in case you were curious: "When it’s late at night and you’re fast asleep, I let my fingers do the walking. I press record I become a fiend. And no one else is watching, I let my fingers do the walking." Walk on fingers, walk on. Sometimes we all need to push our own buttons, if you get what I'm saying.
Yes girls! Let's talk about it! Salt-N-Pepa has been cracking out hits for decades, and so many of them center on female empowerment and being your own sexual advocate. From "What a Man" to "Push It", their songs are about being strong, independent women who go after what they want, and we are here for it. "Let's Talk About Sex" is a great song for a lot of reasons, and not just because it's sex positive. It breaks down a lot of the taboos women have faced regarding sex and being sexual. It's like a sex education lesson set to a nice beat.
This Wizard of Waverly Place is casting spells of a different variety now, with songs like "Hands to Myself". Selena wants what she wants, and that's more than OK. Selena joins the ranks of fellow sex positive pop stars like Britney Spears and Ariana Grande, who started their careers in a very PG way but are all grown up and embracing their womanhood now. We can't expect these women to stay young girls forever, and it makes us so happy to see them shed those images and take ownership of their sexuality. Selena may not have the Beiber fever anymore, but she sure isn't hanging around moping about it.
When Christina went "Dirrty", we knew she'd left her squeaky-clean image as a pop star behind. Her music in the latter part of her career has been bold, raw, and full-on sexy. And we're here for it. Christina put a new spin on casual sex with her song "Your Body". She sings, "Hey boy! I don't need to know where you've been, all I need to know is you and no need for talking. Hey boy! So don't even tell me your name, all I need to know is whose place, and let's get walking." Names are immaterial, and there's no need for niceties sometimes.
From the moment she danced onto the scene, Lady Gaga hasn't shied away from being herself. And who she is is a strong, take-no-prisoners woman who sings about masturbation and self-love. In "Dancin' in Circles" Gaga sings, "I lay around, touch myself to pass the time. I fell down, I wish you were mine. I close my eyes, take a breath and I picture us in a place I can't recognize. In the fire I call your name out (call your name out), up full night tryin' to rub the pain out (rub the pain out)." Masturbation as therapy? That works.
A few summers ago, Demi had a catchy summer hit called "Cool for the Summer". The lyrics suggest the song was about more than just having fun: "Got a taste for the cherry, I just need to take a bite." Her recent music shows her growth as an artist, and her willingness to sing about what she wants and how she gets it. Demi has had some struggles with her sobriety recently, and it breaks out hearts to see such a young, talented girl pulled down by such an insidious disease. We hope she's gets healthy so she can keep wowing us with her talents.
I adore Cardi B. She's fun, she's fearless, she's smart as hell. And she knows what she wants. Whether she's rapping about red bottoms or bragging about her oral skills, Cardi B is as real and raw as sex positive pop stars get. Even after getting married and becoming a mother, Cardi is still her authentic self, and continues to be raw and real and take no shit from anyone. In my opinion, all of these things make her an amazing sex positive pop star, and will make her one hell of a mama. Little Kulture is going to have some big beautiful shoes to fill one day!