Sex sells records, according to new research that set out to prove an intuitive conclusion. The study, with the fancy name Songs as a Medium for Embedded Reproductive Messages, examined the country, pop, and R & B Billboard charts and found that 92 percent of the songs that made it into the top 10 in 2009 contained at least one or more "reproductive message." The average number of mentions was 10.49.
Inspired by recent studies, including one on romance novels that discovered the five most common words in the books were love, bride, baby, man, and marriage, the researchers from the State University of New York in Albany wanted to see if reproductive issues were recurrent in music, too. They looked for themes including courtship, sex, pair-bonding, parenting, fidelity, mate guarding, and themes related to long-term and short-term mating strategies.
"Let’s have some fun/This beat is sick/I want to take a ride on your disco stick," from Lady Gaga's 2009 "Love Game" was an example of a reference to short-term mating strategies. “He knelt down and pulled out a ring/And said ‘Marry Me Juliette’” from Taylor Swift's "Love Story" was an example of "commitment and fidelity" themes. And “They say she low down/It’s just a rumor and I don’t believe ‘em/They say she needs to slow down/ Baddest thing around town” from Akon's "Sexy Chick" references "promiscuity/reputation/degradation," according to the study. While messages about sex were pervasive among all genres, they weren't the same messages. Top country songs had mentions to marriage, parenting, breakups, and fidelity, while R & B songs referenced themes like the singer's sex appeal or erotic acts.
It's not just modern music lovers with sexy music taste, though. The research also looked back at opera arias over the past 400 years and found mentions to sex. So Akon and Puccini do have something in common.