20 Female Pop Stars Who Are Unafraid to Sing About Sex

From left: Julia Michaels, Lil' Kim, Madonna, Janet Jackson & Rihanna
Getty Images; Design by Jessica Xie

From left: Julia Michaels, Lil' Kim, Madonna, Janet Jackson & Rihanna

“The guy gets all the glory the more he can score/ While the girl can do the same yet you call her a whore,” Christina Aguilera sings on her 2002 Lil’ Kim-assisted “Can’t Hold Us Down.” It’s 16 years later, and for some reason, female sexual expression is still taboo.

Sure, there are outliers (see: Cardi B’s Billboard Hot 100 chart-topping anthem “Bodak Yellow” -- in which she cockily references her stripper past), but there’s still progress to be made. Thankfully, trailblazers like Janet Jackson and Madonna and newcomers like CupcakKe and Halsey have all done their part in destigmatizing the female desire for sex.

Here are 20 sex-positive goddesses who have flipped the script.


Madonna's been pushing the envelope since she burst onto the scene, a trailblazer for women expressing their sexuality through music. Her earlier hits were suitably sexy, but she's still making new music as well. Her ’92 hit “Erotica” implores listeners to explore the darker side of their sexual fantasies, while 2015's "Holy Water" likens a certain "wetness" to, well, holy water.

Sample lyric: “Golden shower, latex thong, licorice whip, strap it on” (“S.E.X.”)

Check out: "Justify My Love," “Erotica,” “Holy Water,” “S.E.X.”

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Lil’ Kim

Lil’ Kim is explicit, and that’s part of her mass appeal. In her Sisqó-assisted  "How Many Licks?," she recounts adventurous sex with men all over the world, from an Italian who "called his girl up and told her we was boning" and a Puerto Rican former deacon.

Sample lyric: “I don't want d--k tonight, eat my p---y right” (“Not Tonight”)

Check out: "How Many Licks?,” “Magic Stick,” “Not Tonight”

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Julia Michaels

“There's no innuendo/ It's exactly what you think,” Julia Michael whispers on “Pink,” a groovy pop gem off her debut EP Nervous System. In a recent interview with The Guardian, Michaels explained “I’m very pro being in touch with your body.” She doubled down on the sentiment on Twitter: “I think we should be able to sing about whatever the f--- we want.”

Sample lyric: “Believe me when I tell you that he loves the color pink” (“Pink”)

Check out: "Pink,” “Uh Huh”

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Britney Spears

Britney once pleaded with her lover to "hit me, baby, one more time" with her debut single, but she came into her own with a song all about touching herself in the most intimate of ways. “Touch of My Hand” is a tribute to Britney’s time behind closed doors as she explores herself in every way possible.

Sample lyric: “I got a plan we can do it/ Just when you want it baby, baby, baby” (“Get Naked”)

Check out: "Touch of My Hand," “If U Seek Amy,” “3,” “Get Naked (I Got a Plan)”

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Cardi B

Cardi B is never shy about her love for fiancé Offset, which is simultaneously super romantic and also amazingly sexy, especially when she raps about the sexy things they do together. “Man, we should sell that porn,” she raps in Migos’ “Motorsport,” also featuring Nicki Minaj. We also love her when she’s rapping about sex in general, like with the explicit “Kamasutra,” a song performed with Juicy J.

Sample lyric: “No playing games, daddy, suck and f--- you all night” (“Kamasutra”)

Check out: "Kamasutra,” “Bartier Cardi”

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Janet Jackson

Miss Jackson if you’re nasty, indeed. Janet Jackson’s “If” is an ode to sexual fantasies that Janet has gotten herself off on while thinking about her lover: “I’ve gotten there so many times/ I wonder, how ‘bout you?” she croons, and who hasn’t been there before? She sings openly about “taking care” of herself in the aptly named “Take Care," announcing to her lover that she’ll just stay in bed and “take care of it” until her lover is home with her.

Sample lyric: “Take your time 'cause we've got all night, ooh/ You on the rise as you're touchin' my thighs” (“If”)

Check out: "Take Care,” “If”

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Never one to shy away from the desires that some might consider "vulgar," CupcaKKe is a queen who raps bluntly and explicitly about sex, be it oral or otherwise. She not only champions her own sexcapades, but shouts out gay men for their bravery when it comes to anal sex and the fact that “love is love” in “Crayons.” Some of her hottest bangers revolve around performing oral sex with gusto, or how ready she is to get it on. She’s unafraid and unbothered, and we love it.

Sample lyric: “I save d--k by giving it CPR” (“CPR”)

Check out: “CPR,” “Crayons,”  “Vagina,” “Duck Duck Goose”

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Cyndi Lauper

Cyndi Lauper’s 1984 smash hit “She Bop” sang the praises of female masturbation at a time where simply referencing such a thing could get her music banned from certain stations, and actually recorded the song while nude and “tickling herself” in the studio. That’s how you know it’s a song for the ages. In fact, she was even inspired to write it thanks to ogling men in a porno mag. “I wanna go south and get me some more,” she nearly giggles in one of the song’s choruses. “She bop, she bop!”

Sample lyric: "Hey, they say that a stitch in time saves nine/ They say I better stop or I'll go blind" (“She Bop”)

Check out: "She Bop"

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Christina Aguilera

“All I wanna do is touch your body,” Aguilera sings on “Your Body,” recounting how she’ll “finish off on her own” if her lover isn’t able to please her after all. In “Woohoo” she extols the virtues of oral sex in a playful manner while riffing on Nicki Minaj’s contributions to the track. “Licky, licky, yum, yum, what a great guy/ Kiss on my all over my…” as a playful voice interjects “Woohoo!” It’s a euphemism, but a great one: “You know you wanna put your lips where my hips are.”

Sample lyric: “You don't even need a plate, just your face, ha!” (“Woohoo” )

Check out: "Woohoo," "Your Body," “Vanity,” “Dirrty”

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“He told me that I’d never/ With his educated eyes/ And his head between my thighs,” Halsey sings in “Coming Down,” a reference to her lover performing oral sex on her while “rolling around beneath these sheets,” clearly enamored with the partner she’s chosen to unleash all her pent-up lust upon.

Sample lyric: "We roll around beneath these sheets" (“Coming Down”)

Check out: “Coming Down”

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Ariana Grande

“I been here all night/ I been here all day/ And boy, you got me walkin’ side to side” isn’t just a fun verse: Ari is talking about how she's getting so much lovin’ from her partner that it's caused her to walk bowlegged. Her track “Dangerous Woman” is another ode to how hot her partner makes her.

Sample lyric: “All that you got, skin to skin, oh my God/ Don’t ya stop, boy,” (“Side to Side”)

Check out: "Side to Side," "Dangerous Woman"

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P!nk is a rebellious rock star who's never shied away from telling us what's on her mind, and that's no different with one of her raunchier odes to paddling the pink canoe, the I'm Not Dead bonus track "Fingers." She also challenges the double standard that declares women “sluts” for having multiple sexual partners in the sassy “Slut Like You,” with the signature punk-rock brand of feminism we’ve come to love her for over the years.

Sample lyric: "When it’s late at night and you’re fast asleep/ I let my fingers do the walking" (“Fingers”)

Check out: “Fingers,” “Slut Like You”

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We already know Bad Gal Riri helps us unleash our inner queen pretty much every time she opens her mouth, but she’s also queen of talking about sex across her musical catalog: “I’mma need you deeper than six, not a coffin/ We’re not making love, tryna get nasty.” Whips and chains excite Rih too, as we should all be well aware of by now with the deliciously raunchy “S&M.” We feel like she’d definitely be on top, as evidenced in “Cockiness (Love It)”: "I can be your dominatrix/ Just submit to my every order/ Enter my diamond matrix/ If you want my golden flower.”

Sample lyric: “It beats me black and blue but it f----s me so good” (“Love on the Brain”)

Check out: “Sex With Me,” “Love on the Brain,” “S&M,” “Cockiness (Love It)”

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Nicki Minaj

Nicki has never been one to mince words, and she’s not interested in keeping her sexual desires quiet, either. Whether it’s talking about her “boy toy named Troy” or “this dude named Michael” in “Anaconda,” she’s all about talking up her sexcapades and all the raunchy fun that comes with them. “Feeling Myself,” however, is a double-dose of looking and feeling flawless and a sly reference to female masturbation: “Back off, cause I’m feelin’ myself, jack off,” Nicki raps in this iconic tag-team tune with Beyoncé.

Sample lyric: "Come through and f--- him in my automobile" (“Anaconda”)

Check out: “Anaconda,” “Feeling Myself,” “Truffle Butter”

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Selena Gomez

“Let me show you how proud I am to be yours/ Leave this dress a mess on the floor,” a sultry Selena Gomez sings on her 2015 hit “Good for You,” a tribute to looking amazing for your lover but discarding it all for the floor so you can get down to what’s really important, essentially. And in a song that’s literally called “Fetish,” Selena sings about how her lover has a “fetish” for her love, who’s “hooked on her body.” Ms. Gomez takes it to the next level with her desire and lust for her partners, and it really shows, and in doing so she’s truly ditched her squeaky-clean Disney image, fully.

Sample lyric: “You got a fetish for my love/ I push you out and you come right back” (“Fetish”)

Check out: "Good for You,” “Hands to Myself,” "Fetish"

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Queen B can be a radiant beauty and benevolent role model, but that doesn't mean she can't enjoy sex. On “Partition," Bey raps, “Driver roll up the partition please/ I don’t need you seeing ‘Yonce on her knees.” The finish is steamy and unexpected: “He bucked all my buttons/ He ripped my blouse/ He Monica Lewinski’d all on my gown.”

Sample lyric: "Now my mascara running, red lipstick smudged/ Oh he so horny, yeah he want to f---" (“Partition”)

Check out: “Partition,” “Blow,” “Feeling Myself”

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Lady Gaga

"Dancing in Circles" is one of Mother Monster's most overt anthems that celebrates masturbation, and it’s an anthemic bop. "I lay around, touch myself to pass the time." Gaga's thinking of her lover when she's alone, and she wishes it were their hand instead of hers. The megastar is all about love and acceptance, but she’s never been shy about sharing her sexiest desires with us, especially with her romp about a female lover she fantasizes about in her dreams.

Sample lyric: “When I lay in bed, I touch myself and think of you” (“Sexx Dreams”)

Check out: "Dancing in Circles," “Sexx Dreams,” “G.U.Y.”

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Liz Phair

Liz Phair’s discography has explored everything from one-night stands to rough sex, and she’s unabashedly straightforward about what she wants from her man, particularly on her self-titled 2003 album on “H.W.C,” which is an abbreviation for hot, white, well... You get the picture. My skin’s getting clear, my hair is so bright/ All you do is f--- me every day and night,” she sings, which is a far cry from the radio-friendly luster of her sole top 40 Billboard Hot 100 hit “Why Can’t I."

Sample lyric: “I want to f--- you like a dog/ I’ll take you home and make you like it” (“Flower”)

Check out: "Chopsticks,” “Flower,” “Johnny Feelgood,” “H.W.C.”

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“F--- the pain away, f--- the pain away,” Peaches announces on one of her best-known hits, but we’re still learning all about the teaches of Peaches as she continues to release plenty of sex-positive bops. From wearing a full beard on the cover of her album Fatherf---er and hyping up oral sex in “Rub” with lines like “Tell on my p---y, whistle blow my clit,” Peaches is the veritable queen of groovy, sex-positive electropop that’s nearly as hot as putting on one of her songs to get down with your partner.

Sample lyric: “Come diddle my skittle 'cause there's only one peach / With the hole in the middle” (“Diddle My Skittle”)

Check out: "F--- the Pain Away,” “Rub,” “Diddle My Skittle,” “Dick in the Air”

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Azealia Banks

Banks’ thoughts on sex and sexuality are just as open as her views that she shares via social media, and there’s no better evidence of this than singles like “212” where she gets raw with lines like “Now she wanna lick my plum in the evening/ And fit the ton-tongue D-deep in” followed by “I guess that c--t getting eaten.” Ms. Banks is confident she’s everything you’re looking for and more, and it shows in her rhymes that reference both same and opposite-sex coupling.

Sample lyric: “No ordinary taste either, it's that candy/ He was tryna lick it off the seam of my panties” (“L8R”)

Check out: "212,” “Liquorice,” “L8R”

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Gay Pride Month 2017


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