That "love" wins in mentions drastically overall should probably come as no surprise (the number of "love" mentions remains consistently above 10,000 over this period, while "sex" peaks at a little over 1,500) but the trends of use are interesting and ripe for reflection.
The success of songs mentioning "love" has been strong since the beginning of the test, but saw its peak in 1988, performing high in the surrounding years. Meanwhile, "sex" mentions peaked in 2009 with help from Ciara's "Love Sex Magic" and Jeremih's "Birthday Sex," which were both in the Billboard Hot 100's top 10. As well, curiously, "sex" mentions see peaks and dips in popularity almost year to year.
'Strip Club': Luke Bryan, Blake Shelton and Jason Aldean Lead Country's Sexual Revolution
The use of "sex" in song titles and lyrics was uncommon until the late 1980s, which the report suggests MTV's rise in popularity might be partially responsible. It also states a general growth in sexualized content across all media, as "occurrences of sexual content on television almost doubled between 1997 and 2001."
As for artists who lead with most popular uses of each term: Overall Madonna tops the list for most hit "love" songs, followed by Stevie Wonder and Chicago. Meanwhile, the Black Eyed Peas lead for "sex" hits, followed by Bruno Mars and TLC.
James Brown, Rick James and R. Kelly, respectively top the list of musicians who mention "sex" most frequently in their hit songs. The Glee cast, Aretha Franklin and Luther Vandross go the more wholesome route, overall, mentioning "love" more frequently than anyone in each song of their hit songs surveyed.
Read the full report here.