In order to make today (and tonight) the peak sexy-time of the season, we offer to you, dear readers, a playlist that’s engineered for maximum stimulation. Dinner reservations, expensive trinkets and not being a total d-bag are still on you, but with this enchanting arrangement of boot-knockin’ toons blasting from your speakers, a successful nightcap is halfway in the bag. (Which, if things go well, you and your date should be, too.)
1. Miguel, “Do You…”
With his languid grooves, subtle beats and yearning vocals, Grammy winner Miguel encompasses everything a modern sex god should be: sensitive, strong and capable of turning out hook-laden jams. “Do You…”s equation of sex and drugs is smoothly seductive, while his previous single “Adorn” recalls classic R&B like Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing” and The System’s “Don’t Disturb This Groove.”
2. Destiny’s Child, “Nuclear”
Just before she won the Supergame or whatever that was, Beyonce and the girls she used to hang with got together and quickly knocked out the hands-down sultriest track of their career. With its sampled beat recalling the best of ’90s hip-pop, “Nuclear” sits comfortably alongside our favorite mixtape makeout staples: Janet Jackson‘s “That’s the Way Love Goes,” H-Town‘s “Knockin’ Da Boots,” and Next‘s “Too Close,” to name but a smattering.
3. Katy Perry, “Teenage Dream”
If the playful hits of Katy Perry don’t put your date in the mood for a bedroom frolic, maybe it’s time to look for a better half who isn’t a terrible person? Just kidding, Valentine! With her cotton-candy attitude and nostalgic tales of lost love, Katy really nails the feeling of wanting to get nailed, again, like you did when you were a teenager. To extend the youthful wonder of the glow of first love, follow this one up with Katy’s faithful disciple Selena Gomez and her hit, “A Year Without Rain,” or RuPaul‘s Drag Race special guest star Kady Z and her equally powerful single, “Beautiful Disaster.”
4. Kelly Rowland, “Motivation”
The running tackle to Beyonce’s all-star quarterback (I have no idea what those terms mean), Fashion Show breakout star Kelly actually scored a touchdown of her own in 2011 with this feverish sex-monster of a hit. Growling over a sultry mechanical beat, Keke demands “Oh, lover, don’t you dare slow down / go longer, you can last more rounds… Push harder!” in a way that makes featured guest Lil Wayne sound like a chaste choirboy.
5. Kings of Leon, “Use Somebody”
We’ve no idea why the desperate rawk longing of Kings of Leon occasionally appeal to the erotic area of our brains. Maybe it’s all down to lead singer Caleb Followill and the way his desperate pleas for intimacy evoke last call at our local dive bar on a Saturday night. Maybe we’ve lived this song. Maybe we shouldn’t admit that! Whatever it is, we’re into it, much in the same way Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m On Fire” gives us sexy chills.
6. Rihanna, “Te Amo”
Before she went full-on dominatrix in “S&M,” Rihanna took a dip in the lady pond with this arid, pop-tropical love ballad. Riding a groove that would later be echoed in her #1 hit “What’s My Name,” it’s a sensual workout that showed the world how serious RiRi was about becoming the Next Big Thing. See also: Madonna‘s “Justify My Love” and anything from La Madge’s Erotica, which we imagine the Unapologetic Rihanna has listened to more than once for inspiration.
7. Usher, “Scream”
The undisputed King Of The Clubs has turned out a string of libidinous dance hits over the years, making it almost impossible for us to choose just one for our playlist. The stomping beast that is “Scream,” however, captures what we love most about the singer: he can make a crass demand like “relax, get on your back” sound like a matter of very important business — one we cannot refuse. Also, he looks better in a suit than anyone else in Pop, including our next Casanova.
8. Justin Timberlake, “My Love”
Our first inclination was to include the hopelessly romantic “Dick In A Box,” but taken the wrong way, that could send your Valentine scurrying directly to the police station. Instead, play it safe with Trousersnake’s sexy Timbaland and T.I. collaboration for his signature brand of cheeky-yet-vulnerable R&B seduction. Scattering promotional photographs of Justin around your apartment may also help to raise the temperature to steamier level.
9. Jessie Ware, “If You’re Never Gonna Move”
The new Brit princess of soulful ear candy has enough charms to lure men to sea, but this beguiling drum n’ bass ballad is probably the most intoxicating in terms of audio seduction. Recalling her spiritual godmothers Lisa Stansfield and Caron Wheeler of Soul II Soul, this fiery little number also earns extra credit for including a hot gangsta-ish ginger in the video. If you can find it, opt for the original “110%” version of this tune for an illicit, record-company-lawyer-taunting thrill.
10. Kylie Minogue, “Put Yourself in My Place”
What would Valentine’s Day be without the goddess of love herself? She didn’t name her last album Aphrodite for nothing; the Aussie superstar has always been in love with love. This down-tempo ditty displays the best attributes of ’90s Europop with an extra side of eros, while the video’s lusty homage to Jane Fonda in Barbarella will have you declaring “We have contact!”