A guide to hump music
– by Michael Kissinger
For centuries, humankind has wrestled with the daunting task of selecting music to hump to. Not only can the right music take your mind off things, put you in the mood and add a little rhythm to the give’n, it can transform the average plumber into a master craftsmen. Although music is merely a tool, it’s a tool that should be operated with care. Too often, one’s choice of hump music is hampered by poor judgment, brazen recklessness or, worse, indifference.
When getting started, the first thing you need to establish is genre and tempo. If you don’t refer to your partner as “lover” or don’t have a bed with a canopy, it’s best to forget about opera as your sexual soundtrack. Same goes for country and western (too white), polka (too creepy) and anything remotely Celtic, which is the antithesis of hump music. Sorry, Great Big Sea fans.
Jazz can be tricky, as well. In the movie Jerry Maguire, Chad the Nanny (played by High Fidelity’s sensitive record store clerk Todd Louiso) hands Tom Cruise a mix tape for when he gets it on with RenÃ©e Zellweger. But when they eventually knock boots, the intensity of Charles Mingus’s “Haitian Fight Song” proves too distracting, even for a devout Scientologist adept at clearing his reactive mind. The moral? Go with what you know.
That said, I once read an article in a zine called “Songs I Used to Fuck To” about a woman who would hump v0raciously to Sonic Youth’s “Silver Rocket” in high school, to which my initial reaction was, “Who is this beguiling alterna-minx?” Upon further reflection, however, I’d have to say Sonic Youth is a challenging hump choice, unless you like meandering, angular sex with weird tuning.
Conversely, Yo La Tengo makes great hump music, which is odd for a band consisting of a married Jewish couple and a chubby guy who likes cats.
While some people will foolishly gravitate towards emotionally charged, epic-sounding anthems for their bedroom beats, you should avoid bumping uglies to U2 or Coldplay, unless you’re prone to writing letters for Amnesty International or quietly sobbing in your lover’s arms when it’s all over.
Heavy metal, Nine Inch Nails, Rob Zombie and Buckcherry’s “Crazy Bitch” should only be humped to if you or your partner is a stripper. But stoner rock like Fu Manchu and Queens of the Stone Age is fair game.
The degree to which you want to hump the person or people making the music can also have a direct correlation to the hump-ability of their music. Which is why PJ Harvey and Josh Homme write great hump songs and Courtney Love and Scott Weiland do not.
Although ex-Spacemen 3 and current Spiritualized frontman Jason Pierce gained a reputation for “taking drugs to make music to take drugs to,” his musical output is decidedly hump-friendly, particularly Ladies & Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space. Ditto for the majority of woozy-sounding shoegazer music, especially My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless.
Trip hop also does the trick, but that might be because it’s relaxing and makes the listener/humper feel more sophisticated than their Kirkland jeans purchased at Costco would indicate. This reasoning also explains the high hump-ability levels of Stereolab, the Herbaliser and Air’s Moon Safari – arguably one of the most hump-able releases of the past 15 years.
Video – Air, “Kelly Watch the Stars”:
Songs about humping are usually a safe bet, whether it’s George Michael’s “I Want Your Sex”, Missy Elliot’s “Get Your Freak On”, or Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love”. And a co-worker of mine swears by Anita Baker’s “You Bring Me Joy,” but I don’t want to think about that too much.
But there are also exceptions to the sexiness of sex songs, namely Salt-n-Pepa’s “Let’s Talk About Sex”, Colour Me Bad’s “I Wanna Sex You Up” and, fittingly, Neutral Milk Hotel’s “Song Against Sex”, which is a fantastic song as long as you’re not doing the deed, which can be said about pretty much anything associated with the Elephant 6 music collective and their ilk.
Then there’s Prince. To the casual listener, the purple one has written nothing but hump songs – and they’d be mostly correct. But it’s difficult to reconcile the horndog Prince, who’s written such bonin’ classics as “I Wanna Be Your Lover”, “Head”, “Sexuality”, “Do Me, Baby”, “Jack U Off”, “Kiss”, “Darling Nikki” and Sheena Easton’s “Sugar Walls” with the dude who penned such boner-shrinking drivel as “The Rainbow Children”, to say nothing of his musical contributions to the Batman soundtrack and Jehovah’s Witness membership drives. So be selective.
There are also several paradoxes to be aware of when it comes to hump music. REM is unequivocally a terrible hump band, whereas Radiohead not so much. One should avoid humping to the Beatles, but the Rolling Stones are fine, but only if you restrict yourself to heavy petting – after that you should move onto T-Rex or the Stooges. And never, under any circumstances, should you hump to the music of Rush. Do so and risk being damned to a lifetime of prog rock and chronic masturbation, which are one and the same in my books.
Of course, if you’re really desperate for hump music ideas, there are always the old standbys: Barry White, Al Green, Marvin Gaye, Isaac Hayes, Rick James, et al. But a lack of originality in the soundtrack department doesn’t exactly bode well for your own hump-ability.
Now get to it. And whatever you do, put down that Great Big Sea album.