The new Fifty Shades of Grey is being marketed as the Jill-off movie of a generation. But can you masturbate to its sex jam-heavy soundtrack? We tried our very hardest.
Our methodology was simple: interested Jezebel staffers were randomly assigned tracks from the new Fifty Shades of Grey soundtrack, and confidentially given their song picks. Not every staffer opted to participate, and some of those who did were assigned more than one song. Their mission: to bring themselves to sexual climax while their assigned song was playing in the background. Participants rated each sex jam as a masturbatory soundtrack. Here is what we found.
Right from the get go I have a problem. The difficult thing about this song is Annie Lennox. I personally do not find Annie Lennox sexy. You may be wondering what that has to do with this and the answer is: everything.
If there was a man involved right now, ignoring Annie Lennox would be easy. But seeing as it's just me trying to ride my vibrator solo, I can't help but be distracted by thoughts of Annie and that cute but severe pixie cut. There's a reason so many great sex jams are sung by sexy black people. Throw on a little "Untitled (How Does It Feel)" and I'm imagining D'Angelo and that camera accidentally panning down a few inches. Blast "The Sweetest Taboo" and all I can think about is Sade and that sexy-ass braid of hers. With no one else to focus my attention on, Annie keeps popping into my head. She just isn't doing it for me.
Another issue I'm finding with this track is that it's sort of scary? "Haunting" is probably the better word but either way, fear and masturbation do not mix well. I think that's going to be my conclusion here: Fear, Annie Lennox and masturbation do not mix well. However, I'm guessing that the much of the appeal of Fifty Shades of Grey is that sex with a sadistic billionaire is both alluring and scary. SORRY, I don't like being afraid when I masturbate, have sex, or receive dick pics. All that being said, this song is probably about as sexy as the books, so if those got you in the mood, this probably will as well.
Listen, I tried?
There were many factors at play here. I may have put this off until the last minute, which was stupid because I ended up having to jerk it when I was a) riding some sick period cramps and b) not horny at all. Because I apparently can't keep anything to myself, I told my roommate about this assignment, which was also stupid: "Oh, so I should hang out in the living room [located adjacent to my room]? Would it turn you on to know that at any second, I might burst through your door?" So now I was c) very acutely aware of my roommate's presence 15 feet away.
I plugged in my a/c (a scary fucking thing to do in the winter, who knows what will happen) because I clearly required an extra noise barrier, and threw the cat out of my room because the last thing I needed, really, was someone staring at me/lunging at my vibrator. I turned on "Undiscovered"—I'm into Laura Welsh, so as masturbation soundtracks go, this was pretty chill—and started halfheartedly vibing without bothering to take off my huge hanky-panky thong (they are NOT one size, my mom keeps sending me the giant ones, idk what she's trying to say??). Around the second time the song came on, my cat began to lightly drag his paw across my door; by the third, my a/c was making a whistling noise and some weird air conditioning smell started happening and despite the fact that I had some choice scenes from Spartacus all cued up and ready to go, I had to drop my Lelo and admit defeat.
Overall, I would say that this was a very high-stress experience.
The Weeknd is one of my vagina and I's least favorite artists. From that Basquiat wannabe hair to the assumption that someone actually wants to sleep with his whiny ass as he sings on Drake's "Crew Love"—so presumptuous!—he is not my cup of tea. That said, I had more to work with than my counterparts for my attempt at jilling off. "Earned It" has an S&M themed video with milky ladies sporting x's on their butt cheeks and nipples as well as a tied-up Dakota Johnson hanging from a ceiling and playing with Weeknd's locks. I've been rubbing it out for decades and I should be able to make it happen but it's still The Weeknd whining so my clitoris packed up shop and hit the non-sexy road.
Jessie Ware's "Meet Me in the Middle" is a pretty sexy song. It leans heavily on the blues side of R&B and feels like the kind of jam that could lead you to slow dancing with a handsome dude at a gritty dive bar with a live band or good juke box. I listened to it twice in a row and it was not hard to get off to. Would recommend.
Generally I'm not someone who either fucks or masturbates to music, but variety is the spice of life, so I gave "Love Me Like You Do" a shot. Unfortunately, the track was very upbeat and peppy, so it was like trying to jill off to the end of the movie Working Girl. Despite my best attempts, the very loud drumbeat interfered with my own rhythm, which is ironic considering one of the lines in the song is "I'll Let You Set the Pace." Finally, for the sake of my poor, confused vagina, I gave up.
Hey, whaddya know, it's possible to have an orgasm while this song is playing. Here's the trick: put it on repeat, turn the volume to "super low" and get far away from the speaker. Wait 10 minutes until the sound just melts into the background. This track is atmospheric enough that eventually your bedroom (or wherever!) will take on a boutique hotel lobby vibe, which, it turns out, is perfect for taking care of business.
This song is called "Salted Wound," a title that already sets us way the fuck back on the self-pleasure scale. Salted Wound. Give me a break. And yet: it is a sultry-ass song. It's lazy-moving and building, all waves of harps and drums and Sia moaning something like words. It's not my usual bag for sex music; I go more for Jeremih or Frank Ocean.
"Salted Wound" is movie montage sex music. I haven't seen the film and maybe never will, but I imagine this song will play when Idiot Woman and Idiot Man are falling in love despite the crazy and unattached sex they've been having. This song will probably play the first time they have (scare quotes big here) "Emotional Sex." I'll put $10 on that.
Anyway, sure. My salted wound gave in right around Sia's third drum climax. 2:50 or so. The orgasm was mild and soft, like the song.
I can't. I can't. I can tell this isn't going to be successful from the moment I hear the opening words and realize this is a cover of the Bruce Springsteen song. Sad Dads Drifting Down a Post-Apocalyptic Jersey Shore don't do it for me, sex-wise, and the only thing even less sexy than that is a mumbly, nasal, over-produced imitation of Sad Dads. I mean, come on: "I wake up with the sheets soaking wet and a freight train running through the middle of my head over you"? Only the most deranged kind of sadness junkie could get off to that.
I'd like to say I overcame my initial reluctance and attempted an orgasm, but you know what? I didn't. I just didn't. Honestly, the moment Aaron Bruno sang the words "I got a bad desire," everything just snapped shut like a bear trap. I made some brownies and just kind of rocked back and forth for a little bit instead.
The song opens with Beyoncé's torpid moaning, and she cat-stalks the melody it like a torch singer at a slinky BPM; theoretically the "Crazy in Love Remix" is the ultimate sex jam. But without someone else in the room to absorb my interest, the song is the only thing on which to focus, and it is increasingly weird, because in my mind, Beyoncé is basically my mom. Additionally, songs that are overtly made to get you off—with vulnerable mewling and minor-key drama and guitars crescendoing like waves climaxing on the beach—do exactly the opposite. Excellent for scoring a sex scene in a movie, for sure—the song has to propel the scenery—but yeah, there is nothing that makes you feel cornier than trying to cozy up to a vibe while your mom is howling about sexytimes. Way too distracting.
It took me 5.5 listens of "Witchcraft" to get off (the track 2 minutes and 52 seconds long, so we're looking at an orgasm in about 15 minutes. Not my best work; not my worst), and that was with assistance from a battery operated device and the personality of someone who cannot handle not completing a task. I wouldn't suggest "Witchcraft" as your Sinatra of choice if you're trying to get sexy; it's pretty bouncy, and every time the instrumental part would swell up I'd get so distracted it felt like I was starting all over again. Better musical choices, if you must go Sinatra: probably anything on Only the Lonely, all of which is very slow and sad – excellent stuff if you like jerking off and crying at the same time. Better things to do during this song: find someone in a very well-fitting suit and dance around an empty ballroom with them.
I prefer more ambient music if I'm going to touch myself with any music on in the background at all. That being said, while this track is a little Garden State soundtrack-meets-mid aughts Stars—androgynous energetic major key earnestness interwoven with quixotic strings—nothing about this track is overtly distracting.
I came halfway through the first time I played it.
I got my period a few days before the deadline for this experiment, so for a second I figured a bloody fingering to Weeknd's dulce screams would fit perfectly with the Fifty Shades storyline. Jezebel staff kept referencing a "tampon thing" from the book, which I've never read—I sacrificed cultural fluency for brain cells. So "I Did It To Myself: Fifty Shades of Period Masturbation" kind of sounded like fun. Instead, I let my cycle ride out and did this thing with dignity, late at night on a weekday.
The Weeknd's music is already a mood-setter, so he's a regular on my sex playlists. I was given the perfect song: "Where You Belong." I chose to forego vibrators or dildos, since manual stimulation usually does the job for me. The first and second listens were literally a dry run. I kept giggling and couldn't focus, plus [redacted judgmental pet] kept jumping on the bed. Three plays in, I was restless and still not feeling it. The Weeknd's falsetto Tarzan screams became a torturous mantra. The chorus was the most mind-numbing shit ever: Where you belong. Where you belong. Where you belong. Where you belong. I grabbed my phone and checked Twitter.
On the fifth listen (it's a nearly five-minute song), I buckled down and tried to focus on the sexy guitar solo. Embarrassingly, that worked. This specific lyric kicked me into the zone: "I'm in control when you give me your body." By the sixth listen, I'd flipped onto my stomach and was close to finishing. Eight plays, roughly 40 minutes later, I was wriggling and done.
(Is Skylar Grey a character in this book? Obviously, I haven't read it. I read too much Henry Miller as an adolescent and became desensitized to the written form of erotica so this series titillated me not. The only written word that works on my hoo-ha are sexts.)
As a perv who regularly sits on her foot in public *ahem* I thought this would be a pretty easy task. Jerk it to some music. No problem. But, I'm sorry, I got more turned on writing about sitting on my foot just now than I did actually touching my clit while listening to this song for five minutes. (FIVE MINUTES!) It was a total non-starter, as much as I tried. If I had to guess, this song plays during a breakup scene? Hopefully? Please tell me no one is fucking on screen during this sap fest.
But more about my self-humping: this project alerted me to the fact that I do not get off to music when I'm alone unless I'm dating the musician in question. I did have a long distance relationship with an artist at one point and I'd turn on his Youtube videos when I was about to climax, but maybe that was more about the visuals? Actually, yeah, probably. Let's hope Fifty Shades has half the sexiness of grainy iPhone videos of some fully-clothed dude on stage in a dark club.
Chance of Orgasm: Zero.
Bless this instrumental arrangement. So easy to tune out. It was just like regular masturbating, but with orchestration instead of the sound of my radiator knocking.
This is a dramatic orchestral piece that sounds halfway like a Lifetime movie montage in which the main character is self-harming via Beautiful Mind-style wall charts and halfway like an extended commercial for engagement rings that involves a maudlin obstacle like a car almost about to crash in the snow but then maybe it doesn't crash and the glove compartment pops open and the beautiful woman sees the sparkly ugly-ass diamond or some shit.
I attempted to both self-harm and "engage" myself in an act of ungodly onanism while listening to "Did That Hurt?" by Danny Elfman, a composer best known for creating the Simpsons theme song. I slipped my hand under my PANTIES and then my hand was repelled away from my fuck zone as if by a curse. There is pretty much no one I could have sex with to this, not even one of my most reliably excellent partners (me).
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