Let me set the scene for you: I get into my youngest sister’s car that was once my car. We’re driving to pick up our other sister at the airport. There is an unexplained bra in the backseat. I am sitting in the passenger seat, so I get to control the music. I put on the first mix in the CD changer.
“What’s this one called?” I ask.
“Oh, this is my sexy time CD,” she answers, straight-faced.
The next hour and half is a journey. At first I was confused by my sister’s mixture of conventional and unconventional picks, but upon further reflection I realize I was witnessing genius at work. What follows is the perfect Valentine’s Mixtape.
Track 1: “Let’s Get It On” by Marvin Gaye
There’s really no chance of the moment being misread when you start here. Your partner’s reaction to this track will tell you immediately whether this is actually a situation worth pursuing. Not to mention, Gaye begins by asking if you want to get it on, which is a good example of consent.
Track 2: “Rocket” by Beyoncé
Again, if your partner was at all unsure after the first track, this will really drive the point home. You want to sit this ass on them. Arguably Bey’s sexiest track to date, whether you are spending Valentine’s Day with a significant other, a casual date, or alone, this song will up your confidence by 1,000 percent.
Track 3: “The Love You Save” by Jackson 5
This is where my confusion initially started, but hear me out. This is perhaps the best litmus test. The two overtly sexy songs that begin the mix set the mood and make it clear what your intentions are. This song is the true test of whether or not your squeeze is a keeper. If they act disappointed, you’re headed for a danger zone; if they react to this with good humor because the song is a bop, then you’ve chosen well.
Track 4: “She’s a Bad Mama Jama (She’s Built, She’s Stacked)” by Carl Carlton
Do I really need to explain why this belongs here? If the Jackson 5 didn’t get you laughing and dancing, then this certainly will, especially when you don’t know or remember that it is what’s coming next. Surprise! “She’s a Bad Mama Jama” is the best “She’s a Bad Mama Jama.”
Track 5: “I Want a Little Sugar In My Bowl” by Nina Simone
Slowing it back down now that you know the one you’re with is someone worth keeping around. We all want a little sugar in our bowls, and Simone’s wavering vocals are the perfect combination of strength and vulnerability. This is a woman who knows what she wants (a little sugar in her bowl), and she knows how to get it (telling someone what she wants through song).
Track 6: “Turn off the Lights” by Teddy Pendergrass
Pendergrass suggests a variety of sexy activities you could get up to on your Valentine’s Day (or any day of the year, if you want). These include: taking a shower and letting your partner wash your body for you; getting cozy; rubbing hot oils on your partner’s body; lighting a candle; and of course, turning off the lights.
Track 7: “Somethin’ Stupid” by Frank Sinatra & Nancy Sinatra
This one goes out to everyone who has ever said somethin’ stupid like “I love you.” It’s a little weird that it’s a father/daughter duet featured on a sexy time mix, but hopefully your partner won’t be thinking about that. It’s too late for you, dear reader, as now you cannot unread this information, and for that I apologize. If it’s any consolation, I think it’s pretty clear they aren’t singing to each other.
Track 8: “Sexy Mama” by Moments
I admit this is the weakest track on the playlist, but in case “She’s a Bad Mama Jama” didn’t drive the point home quite enough, here is a slow jam to reiterate. It goes about four minutes longer than anyone really wants it to, but that’s ok because it’s mostly moaning and whispering to music. “Here we go again,” Moments whisper with two minutes left in the song when the music is at its lowest; as if summoned by some unknown interlocutor, the music rises, and they begin to beckon again. I guess it took them a really long time to convince this particular sexy mama to “come on.” For what it’s worth, I hope your sexy mama (whoever they may be, whatever their gender identity) comes the first time.
Track 9: “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)” by Michael Jackson
Now is the perfect time for Jackson’s certified tender, loving care. Halfway through the playlist is this instantly recognizable classic, and the perfect chaser for the last four minutes of “Sexy Mama.”
Track 10: “Love to Love You Baby” by Donna Summer
On my sister’s original mix, she chose to use the single version of Donna Summer’s disco classic. I say fuck that, go for the 17-minute original cut. Unlike Moments, Summer provides a wide variety of sexy noises to back up her high, breathy vocals. After about four minutes of that, you get a groovy instrumental presumably with the expectation that you will fill that time with your own sexy noises. Instruments keep getting added to the track until Summer finally returns just after the seven-minute mark to demonstrate once again that she is probably better at faking an orgasm than you are.
Track 11: “Cry Me a River” by Ella Fitzgerald
When I asked my sister why this incredibly sad song was on this playlist at all, she said “just listen to her voice!” It’s hard to argue with that when Fitzgerald is on her A-game, and she is always on her A-game.
Track 12: “Blow” by Beyoncé
Beyoncé’s ode to cunnilingus is a must for all Valentine’s mixes for the rest of time.*
*Furthermore, the video provides a really good idea for a date in the form of going to a skating rink, especially if you are as good at roller skating as Bey.
Track 13: “Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I’m Yours)” by Stevie Wonder
This playlist is endorsed by the Obamas, probably. Aside from this being a genuinely amazing song, I personally love it because I’m a big fan of the postal service and a stamp collector (also single, send inquiries via post to my apartment).
Track 14: “Like a Virgin” by Madonna
Part of the reason I decided to go with my sister’s oddly brilliant mix instead of my own is that one of my ideal Valentine’s Day mixes is just “Like a Virgin” on repeat. As an undergrad, I would drive by my place of work on days I wasn’t working and blast “Like a Virgin” out of my rolled-down car windows just to remind my co-workers I was still out in the world living life. I love “Like a Virgin.”
Track 15: “Doo Wa Ditty (Blow That Thing)” by Zapp
If you feel comfortable, and by this point you should feel comfortable, this is the perfect song to dance like a robot to. Nerdy dance opportunities should not be missed as they are the final frontier of whether your person is a keeper.
Track 16: “I’m Wild About That Thing” by Bessie Smith
Is your partner old school? Like really old school? This track from the original, the Empress of the Blues, will certainly do the trick. Smith’s powerful vocals soar over the soft crackle of the gramophone, satisfying every soul.
Track 17: “Me & Mr. Jones” by Amy Winehouse
On this track, Winehouse is asking all the right questions. What kind of fuckery is this? What kind of fuckery are you? Both valid questions leading into the conclusion of your mixtape-fueled evening.
Track 18: “Sexual Healing” by Marvin Gaye
Like all good mixes, this one comes full circle, providing infinite repeatability. There are two cures for when you get sick in the morning and there’s a sea storming inside you, sexual healing and this playlist.