Let’s get this straight: There is a difference between a sleazy song and a vulgar song. The vulgar song makes us laugh at its sheer audacity; the sleazy song makes us want to shower off its stank after listening. A lot of these sleazy songs have to do with sex. Dirty, skanky sex, old men looking to poke young girls, horny chicks masturbating in hotel lobbies and even a double entendre about incest. Whether it be Lil’ Wayne being done like a lollipop or Axl Rose fucking a bandmate’s girlfriend on “Rocket Queen,” the sleazy song is an art form in its own right. So grab some tissues (the happy kind) and then a cold shower as Spectrum Culture’s staff presents their choices for sleaziest song ever. – David Harris

11. The Rolling Stones, “Some Girls,” from Some Girls (1978)

There’s a fine line between suggestive and seedy, and few bands have walked that line quite like the Rolling Stones. In a Stones song, evocative and sordid are often rendered indistinguishable, but there’s no question about which side of the fence “Some Girls,” the title track from the group’s career-reviving 1978 album, falls on. It’s one of those rare songs that transcends mere sleaze, making listeners want to shower for days in a futile effort to scrub that Jagger swagger from their hearts and minds.

Ostensibly a song that parodies female stereotypes, “Some Girls” features such candid observations as “Chinese girls are so gentle/ They’re really such a tease/ You never know quite what they’re cookin’/ Inside those silky sleeves” and “Black girls just want to get fucked all night/ I just don’t have that much jam.” How lovely. Jagger and Richards may have had satire in mind, but listeners can’t be faulted for failing to recognize the intended irony. After all, the Stones aren’t exactly a band that’s renowned for its sensitivity towards women, and this song doesn’t sound like a mockery of female stereotypes as much as a lustful and misogynistic tirade.

The circumstances that surrounded the band at the time of its release accentuate the song’s grubbiness. Had “Some Girls” emerged pre-Exile on Main Street, it may have sounded a little less slimy; but coming from a band that was already starting to develop creepy-old-men status by 1978, “Some Girls” plays out like mere wishful thinking from a band of aging and bitter rockers forever hung up on a cheap lay. – Marcus David

10. The Rolling Stones, “Stray Cat Blues,” from Beggars Banquet (1968)

“Stray Cat Blues” practically slithers up to you; Keith’s trebly hammer-ons insinuate the image of a couple of underage girls hanging around a venue during load-out. Soon, the rest of the band falls into place behind him, Charlie just barely keeping things together while Richards’ rhythm work sounds suitably lugubrious and strung out. Mick, on the other hand, sounds shamelessly self-confident; yes, he can see she’s just 15 years old- no, he doesn’t want her ID. They’d have fun, if only she’d come upstairs, to the dressing room.

A twisted booby trap of a song, buried on the second side of their back-to-basics follow-up to Their Satanic Majesty’s Request, Beggars Banquet, “Stray Cat Blues” oozes sleaze in not just its languid Telecasters, its jailbait-chasing protagonist, its comparison of misguided teens to stray animals or even Jagger’s baiting the original girl to get her eager-to-please friend involved as well. It’s when Mick repeats, over and over, that what he’s after is “no hanging matter/…It’s no capital crime,” that he rationalizes his pursuits for the listener, and by the time Keith’s white-hot lead slices through the moral fog, we realize that Jagger’s put us in the strange position of mindlessly bopping along to his sordid conquests. – Chris Middleman

9. Pulp, “This is Hardcore,” from This is Hardcore (1998)

Sleaze signifies a lot of things- degradation, humiliation, sordidness. More than anything, though, the word conjures up dirty, dirty sex. Britpop legends Pulp’s 1998 single “This Is Hardcore” dismisses the subtle, the entendre and the hints that most pop songs go for and gets straight to the heart of the matter. Singer/songwriter (and noted perv) Jarvis Cocker opens the song with a deep and sincere “This is hardcore/ You make me hard,” laying it all out from the very first. Over dramatically descending piano notes and a furiously quickening drumbeat, he waxes rhapsodic over his desires and lusts, proclaiming “I wanna make a movie/ So let’s star in it together.” By the time he gets to “That goes in there/ And then that goes in there,” it’s all over.

Buoyed by a controversial ad campaign featuring a flawlessly lifeless blonde woman and a music video homage to film noir and Technicolor, “This Is Hardcore” stands as a monument to the power of pornography and sleaze. If we hadn’t known it already, Cocker’s reputation as a man fully in control of the salacious power of language and drama would have been full cemented by the title track of an album invested in drugs, disappointment and the desire to fuck away some of the gloom. “This Is Hardcore” is a testament to just how dirty the center of a man’s mind can get. – Nathan Kamal

8. Liz Phair, “Flower,” from Exile in Guyville (1993)

When it comes to sleazy songs, “Flower” is the kind that makes you feel downright dirty and used, though in this case that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The track is likely the most memorable from the daring and raucous Exile in Guyville, despite competing for that honor with the driving “Fuck and Run” and the similarly classic “Divorce Song.” However, “Flower” takes emotional and sexual honesty to a different level than either of those commentaries on relationship drama. It’s essentially a thesis on how to take the romance, subtly, and sensuality out of a come-on. Phair sings – over and over – “Every time I see your face/ I get all wet between my legs.” And she readily admits “You’re probably shy and introspective/ That’s not part of my objective/ I just want your fresh young jimmy/ Jamming, slamming, ramming in me.” While Phair could have used more clinical terms than “jimmy,” these are still the words of a badass looking for some gratification, not a caring lover. It just happens to be a girl singing versus a stereotypical male.

And Phair really brings the sleaze in her delivery. The combination of robotic vocals, graphic innuendos, childlike phrasing and unnerving repetition make “Flower” subversive and alienating – somewhere in between sexy and creepy. More so, the fact that such straightforward statements of physical desire are coming from a woman turns bigoted machismo on its head. Few artists could make a heavy-handed appeal for sex sound any sleazier than it inherently is, but Phair manages to do so with a curiously arousing lack of grace. – Michael Merline

7. Violent Femmes, “Gimme the Car,” from Violent Femmes (1983)

Innumerable teen comedies from the ’80s gave us images of raucous house parties with skateboards rolling through the house, slapstick car chases around town, clueless parents away for the weekend and ultimately, a resolution involving a smooch with the school’s out-of-reach cheerleader. If “Gimme the Car” was any indication, the Violent Femmes’ ideal chronicle of our teenage years would probably be a Todd Solondz film set in 1983, with subplots of family dysfunction, drugs, implied date-rape and a whole station wagon full of sexual frustration.

After kicking the song off with lyrics that could pass in an old Buddy Holly song, “Come on Dad/ Gimme the car tonight,” singer Gordon Gano begins explaining why, and the sleaze officially commences: “I’m gonna pick her up/ I’m gonna make her cry/ I’m gonna get her high,” and then “I’m gonna touch her all over her body.” While all of this is suggestive, the situation gets darker when Gano goes onto say how he hates his life, can’t explain personal pain and then says, “Speaking of driving/ Come on Dad/ Gimme the car tonight.” In other words, he’s reminding us that he’s been sharing these plans with his Dad the whole time. Does he think he’s more likely to get the car if he tells his dad he’s going to drug her up and try to “make it to a man,” or is he just so fed up that he’s going to let it all out? It doesn’t matter; either way, it’s a wonderful mess.

Of course, it’s not the words alone that elicit unease: there’s the central riff that sounds like a wasted Angus Young dozing off with his axe in hand, the devilish tone of Gano’s voice and even some slap-happy bass breaks – and we know there aren’t many things grimier than that. – Kyle Wall

6. Of Montreal, “Plastis Wafer,” from Skeletal Lamping (2008)

Of Montreal are not exactly strangers to smut; any band whose lead singer ‘transforms’ into a cross-dressing, multiple sex-changed African-American named Georgie Fruit is at least going to be somewhat suggestive. But they’ve always played it a little coy, more charmingly adventurous than blatantly vulgar. But that all changed with 2008’s “Plastis Wafer,” a seven-minute filth-fest that could be the only song ever released to feature the word “ejaculate” in its first stanza. Glazed in a druggy, carbonated haze, frontman Kevin Barnes’ voice delicately hovers at a high-pitched impurity, as he gently lets loose hyper-literate raunch. Such gems like “Lover face how your ass is pumping / Such sweet licentious song” and “I want you to be my pleasure puss / I wanna know what it’s like to be inside you” leave little to the imagination – unabashedly gross and meticulously designed to make you yearn for a shower. It’s the kind of track that goes so far in its perverseness that it forgoes steaminess and ends up downright skeevy, (the song even crests to an unmistakable pinnacle, as if to personify another brand of intense emotional release.) The Gainsbourg clan would be proud. – Luke Winkie

5. Billy Squier, “The Stroke,” from Don’t Say No (1981)

Perhaps my sex-o-meter is off, but I’ve never found myself giggling like a bashful school girl while listening to Billy Squier’s “The Stroke.” Its chorus may conjure images of some dirty act, but rather than be about sex, the chorus is much more indicative of a man’s contempt of the music industry.

“The Stroke” is about an individual sucked in, used up and spit out by the Biz, all the while taking direction as diligently as possible in some corporate-dictated hokey-pokey toward fortune and fame. “Put your left foot out/ Keep it all in place.” Put your best foot forward; give us all you have- once you do, you’re sucked in, fucked over and spit out; left with nothing more than self-pity or delusions for having sold oneself out for the big time.

While some have seen the video and have snickered at Squier wearing an uncomfortable (to look at) pair of skin tights, prancing about the stage reciting “stroke me,” others, who have signed on any dotted line, selling their talent/product/soul to make money from or for “The Man,” are well aware that the corporate world can be as sleazy as they come. – KayJay

4. Prince, “Darling Nikki,” from Purple Rain (1984)

In 1984, as Prince shot to international superstardom on the back his first #1 album, Purple Rain, the wildly suggestive lyrics of this sleazy piece of electro-funk caught the attention of one Mary Elizabeth “Tipper” Gore–wife of then Senator and future climate change crusader, Al Gore. Terrified of the obvious moral decay that a song like “Darling Nikki” symbolized, Tipper rounded up a few fellow Washington wives and founded the Parents Music Resource Center. Their crowning achievement? Those aesthetically pleasing black and white “Parental Advisory” stickers that grace the covers of so many classic albums, from Straight Outta Compton to Fever to Tell.

Now while warning labels on music might seem like the commercial equivalent of that town in Footloose (also released in 1984, coincidentally), few songs could have made Gore’s point as well as “Darling Nikki.” Prince doesn’t mince words in his rousing introduction of the autoerotic heroine, “I knew a girl named Nikki/ I guess you could say she was a sex fiend.” After a quick seduction, His Royal Badness is back at her place and in way over his head. Raunchy instrumentals and Prince’s carnal screeching fill in for the brain-melting, ass-kicking sex that follows–it’s not subtle. The track plays as a sort of cautionary tale for the legions of barhopping guys with just this male fantasy in mind. But it’s not exactly discouraging; this High Priest of Pop is up for another round by the time it’s over. – Brady Baker

3. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, “Hard on for Love,” from Your Funeral…My Trial (1983)

As he’s aged, Nick Cave hasn’t lost any of his passion or his ability to be dirty, as evidenced by his recent novel about a lothario, The Death of Bunny Munro, and Grinderman’s awesomely horny “No Pussy Blues.” Even before hearing “Hard on for Love,” from 1986’s Your Funeral . . .My Trial, you have a pretty good idea it’s gonna be sleazy. As with “From Her to Eternity,” a woman is both salvation and damnation and the band creates an intense, overheated atmosphere as Cave works himself into a lascivious frenzy. The pelvic grinding rhythm and the band’s chain gang backing vocals give it a bluesy feel and few other contemporary artists understand so well that the blues are not meant to be nice. Like his hero Leonard Cohen, Cave realizes that mixing sex and the Bible is a potent combination and this song references Lazarus (giving raised from the dead a whole new meaning), Leviticus and Psalm 23 (giving “rod and staff” a whole new meaning). That Cave can be simultaneously poetic-“It is for she that the cherry bleeds“-and vulgar-“I am the fiend in her skirts“-makes the song all the more galvanizing. Like the Bad Seeds’ best work, they are in the moment of the song so much that you can imagine the object of his desire as Cave bellows “Just when I’m about to get my hands on her/ Her breasts rise and fall.” That it ends with Cave still “hard on for love” and clearly unsatisfied, gives a touch of melancholy and frustration to this unhinged slab of wrung out lust. – Lukas Sherman

2. AC/DC, “Let Me Put My Love Into You,” from Back in Black (1980)

Let me put my love into you, babe/ Let me cut your cake with my knife.” The euphemisms stand unmatched for boldness, considering they’re screeched by AC/DC’s replacement for the late lead singer Bon Scott, after Scott’s own brand of jagged “love” had already won the hearts of millions. Emerging on the band’s 1980 album Back in Black only five months after Scott’s death, new front man Brian Johnson wasted no time on handshakes–he introduces himself as an aural rapist: “Don’t you struggle/ Don’t you fight/ Don’t you worry/ ‘Cause it’s your turn tonight.”

Sleaze often comes not from what is said, but from what is implied. Johnson’s meaning is hard to misinterpret when he screams, “I got reputations/ Blown to pieces/ With my artillery,” his voice soaring like flaming shrapnel over the exploding drums. The unapologetic onslaught fell perfectly into step with the band’s previously established reputation as hardcore musical miscreants. Violent and vulgar, it’s a fitting tribute to hellish archangel Scott.

For its sleaze content, this track placed on the Parents’ Music Resource Center’s “Filthy Fifteen” list at number six, but we at Spectrum Culture are giving these heavy metal pioneers a little more credit. – Zac Dillon

1. Serge and Charlotte Gainsbourg, “Lemon Incest,” from Love on the Beat (1984)

Where the fuck do you even begin with Serge Gainsbourg when it comes to sleaze? This is an artist who made an entire career out of being a dirty old man, who somehow bedded women way out of his league by sheer force of will. For all practical purposes, Gainsbourg makes Lil’ Wayne look like a Poindexter in the lothario department. But if we’re talking about the sleaziest of the sleazy songs, the tracks that are so downright dirty you’re bound to have contracted several STD’s after listening to them, it’s impossible to beat the infamous “Lemon Incest.”

“Lemon Incest” is one of those songs that most people haven’t heard so much as heard of. But for the moment, let’s focus on what makes it so sleazy outside of the context of its recording history and its lyrics. From a musical standpoint, “Lemon Incest” is like a slightly industrialized, francophone take on ’80s R&B: slow, plodding, sweaty. Add in Serge’s raspy, grimy vocal delivery and you’re in Barfly territory.

So yes, the song is sleazy enough without getting into the reason why the track is infamous. What makes the song the epitome of sleaze is of course the appearance of Charlotte Gainsbourg, Serge’s then 12 year old daughter. Charlotte, now a star in her own right, sings as the daughter in a father-daughter relationship. Unsurprisingly, the media were in an uproar over the track, accusing the Gainsbourgs of writing from experience; Serge certainly didn’t make matters any better by creating a video that prominently features a shirt and pantie clad Charlotte reaching for his naked torso. And yet the song was a hit. Serge Gainsbourg may potentially be the sleaziest artist of all-time, but you certainly can’t accuse him of being anything less than a super savvy marketing guru. – Morgan Davis

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Check Also

Bob Dylan’s 20 Best Songs of the ’10s and Beyond

These are Dylan's best recent songs. …