Setting the Mood Music

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You’ve set aside the time. Your coffee is fresh and hot. You’re ready to write. And yet . . . nothing is happening. You’re feeling the creative itch, but nothing is happening. Your pen is drying out, the cursor blinking on your screen is mocking you, and you want to just bang your head against a wall. Creative blocks happen all the time, and I’ve found that one of the best ways to get past them is to blast a little music!

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Setting the Mood

Think about the tone of the scene you’re writing; this is especially important when it comes to romance and erotica. Are your characters having a tender, romantic moment? Are they having angry makeup sex after a fight? Are they teasing each other in public, just waiting for the moment when they can finally be alone? All of these are sexy moods in their own right, but the playlist is going to vary a bit. For example, long lost lovers who are having a deeply emotional and tender reunion are not likely to listen to this particular song:

Or maybe they are, I don’t know your characters, but you get my point. Below, I’ve listed a few different moods with some suggestions that I have found helpful in my own writing.

Playful/Teasing

“Kiss” – Prince  Really, anything by Prince will work. However, I chose this one because this one is more flirty and playful than some of his other work.

“Hands to Myself” – Selena Gomez

“I Want Your Sex” – George Michael This one is pretty to the point, but it’s good for setting a mood for your characters if they’re out in public (or maybe running to the bathroom for a quickie)

“You Can Leave Your Hat On” – Joe Cocker Anyone who has watched 9 1/2 Weeks can attest that this is a great song for setting the mood for a striptease.

Remember how good looking Mickey Rourke was then? I miss those days.

“I Touch Myself” – The Divinyls This one seems pretty self-explanatory, but imagine you have a character who is teasing their partner by touching themself but is just making their partner watch; there’s no better song to set that mood.

“Oops (Oh My)” – Tweet ft. Missy Elliott The repetition of “oops” has just the right playful quality in order to create a fun, sexy environment for your characters who might be teasing each other.

“Need You Tonight” – INXS This particular songs always makes me think of a crowded bar with two people looking at each other like they just know what’s going to happen the moment they get home.

Down and Dirty

“Work It” – Missy Elliott This song is particularly good if you have a female character who is dominating the scene.

“Stripper” Sohodolls This is a particularly sexy song, even more so if you’re a fan of Gossip Girl and you remember the scene in season one when Blair dances in Chuck’s club, Victrola.

Just ignore the fact that Leighton Meester is supposed to be playing a 16-year-old, because that’s when it gets weird.

“You Can Do It” – Ice Cube Okay, so maybe a lot of the songs in this section are pretty self explanatory. This song is also a little bit of a fun flashback if you loved the movie Save the Last Dance.

“Dirrty” – Christina Aguilera ft. Redman This classic 2002 hit is from Christina’s “bad girl” phase (you can tell by the extra “r” in “dirrty”).  Is it a cheesy pop song? Yeah, kinda. Does it also talk about getting down and dirty and fucking while the music video features fetishes like mud wrestling and muscle worship? You’re goddamn right it is.

Smoothly Sexy

“Hell Yes” – Beck This song has an excellent beat that Beck uses to his advantage in order to create a smooth, sexy song that provides excellent atmosphere for two characters that are really, really into each other and want to take their time.

“Ignition (Remix)” – R. Kelly This is about as smooth as it gets as long as you look past the whole “peed on a teenager” thing.

“Pony” – Ginuwine Two words: Magic Mike

Three more words: Jenna Dewan-Tatum

“Criminal” – Fiona Apple Fiona Apple said the song is about “feeling bad for getting something so easily by using your sexuality.” Let’s be honest though, Apple doesn’t sound all that sorry in this song as she verbally slinks around the melody.

Angry Sex

“Desire” – Meg Myers Do you want to hate fuck someone? Do you want to write a scene about how your characters want each other so badly they want to devour each other? If you answered “yes” or even a tentative “maybe?” then this is the song for you.

“Closer” – Nine Inch Nails See above. This is the quintessential angry sex song and, really, with a line like “I want to fuck you like an animal” it speaks for itself.

Classically Sexy

“Let’s Get It On” – Marvin Gaye Is it cheesy and overplayed? Sure. Is it also the sound of panties dropping all around the western world? You’re goddamn right it is.

“Sexual Healing” – Marvin Gaye Let’s be honest here, Marvin Gaye’s was and will continue to be the sound of baby making forever more.

“Here I Am” – Al Green This is the kind of song you can get away with playing at a wedding so that your grandma isn’t offended, but the implication is still pretty clear.

“I Just Wanna Make Love to You” – Etta James Another classy mainstay. Etta James’s sexy voice lets the recipient of the song know exactly what the singer is planning, perfect for when your characters aren’t interested in beating around the bush.

Angsty Sex

“Colorblind” – Counting Crows Anyone who saw Cruel Intentions will remember the angst of this song when Ryan Philippe and Reese Witherspoon’s characters finally have sex for the first time but then they break up and everything is awful and it’s sexy and now I’m crying and wondering why I decided to write this god forsaken post.

“You Are” – Kathryn Ostenberg A painful love song beautifully sung about a broken heart, perfect for when your characters have emotional goodbye sex.

“Wicked Game” – Chris Isaak Do you have angsty characters running around in black and white on a beach? If so, this song is for you!

Romantic Sex

“After an Afternoon” – Jason Mraz From Jason Mraz’s live album recorded at a San Diego coffee shop, this simple acoustic melody really evokes the feel of two people lovingly wrapped in the sheets together. Lines like “your smile pressed against mine” will almost certainly help to inspire some romantic sex scenes for your own characters.

“Hold You In My Arms” – Ray LaMontagne For some reason, this song always makes me think of two people dancing alone to this song on a jukebox in a bar after closing. There is something so romantic in the feel of it about just wanting to hold one another and yet it’s still evocative of romantic, take-your-time sex.

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This is by no means a comprehensive list of songs, but hopefully you have a few ideas to help you get started if you’re feeling stuck in your writing and need some inspiration. Music is a great asset, so be sure to use it!  I also highly recommend making mood lists on Spotify for some of your most inspiring mood music.

Did I forget any of your favorites? Let me know in the comments!

 


 

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Emily Regan is the author of several books, including "What's an Adult?: No One Knows Anything and We're All Going to Die." She is an avid fan of reality TV, an unironic Hanson fan, and currently resides in Arizona with her family.

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