As the daughter of a minister, a five-year-old Tori Amos remembers being taught by her grandmother that sexuality must be denied to "love Jesus properly." However images of the good-looking Christian savior and the sensual voice of Robert Plant began to introduce the prepubescent singer to another reality.
Her anecdotes of budding sexuality make their way into "Icicle," a track from Amos' 1994 release Under the Pink. There’s an innocence to the song, which is poignantly set at Easter, a time of new growth and awakening. Of course, that didn’t matter to conservative Christians, who weren’t impressed with Tori’s lustful thoughts about JC! (Oh the things our parents teach us. Read more about it in The Talk: What I Wish My Mom Had Told Me About Sex.)
"Pump it Up" by Elvis Costello Down in the pleasure center, hell-bent or heaven-sent
Listen to the propaganda, listen to the latest slander
There's nothing underhand that she wouldn't understand
Pump it up, until you can feel it
Pump it up, when you don't really need it ...
While on the road in 1977, Elvis Costello says he became frustrated by his promiscuous, drug-taking tour buddies. Or perhaps he was just fed up that he only had his hand for company while they lived the rock-and-roll dream. Either way, the frustration he felt inspired him to scrawl the lyrics of "Pump It Up" on a Newcastle hotel's fire escape wall. The cheeky title cleverly refers to turning up the music - and turning up the heat!
It seems Costello had self pleasure on the brain that year. "Pump it Up" is one of two odes to masturbation on the album This Year’s Model. "The Beat" wasn’t as big of a hit, but it does show where Costello's mind was that year.
"Touch of My Hand" by Britney Spears I love myself, it's not a sin
I can't control what's happenin'
'Cause I just discovered imagination's taking over
Another day without a lover
The more I come to understand
The touch of my hand ...
As Britney Spears shed her squeaky clean Mousketeers image, she reminded us that she’s not so innocent with this celebration of self-love. Spears co-wrote the track, which she said provided "a balance for the rest" of her 2003 album, In the Zone.
The controversial song might have concerned the parents of the pop star’s tween fans, but Spears insisted it was a "tastefully done" feminist statement. (Check out some of the things parents have told their kids in Good News: These Old Myths About Masturbation Aren't True.)
"I love the subject that I'm touching on because no one's really talked about some of those things in a lot of songs written lately because people are scared to express themselves in that way," she insisted in an interview for Barnes & Noble Music. "I think it's an empowering thing for girls."
"Longview" by Green Day Bite my lip and close my eyes
Take me away to paradise
I'm so damn bored, I'm going blind!
And I smell like shit ...
There’s no romance in Green Day’s masturbation anthem. Instead self-confessed "chronic" masturbator Billie Joe Armstrong penned the song during a creative rut.
"I was in-between houses sleeping on people's couches. It's a song about trying not to feel pathetic and lonely," he told VH1. "I didn't think that masturbation was really seen from the point of view that I was looking at it."
Rather than glamorizing masturbation, the track sees the habit as a means of escape from a depressing reality. Its grittiness struck a chord with American hipsters, who took the track to the top of the American alternative charts in 1994. It went on to win a Grammy for best hard rock performance in 1995.
"I Touch Myself" by The Divinyls I don't want anybody else
When I think about you I touch myself ..
"I Touch Myself" by The Divinyls might be the song about masturbation that got the most play. It topped the charts in the band’s native Australia, where it stayed for two weeks in 1990. It also cracked the top 10 in the United States, Ireland and the United Kingdom. Unlike some of the more subtle songs in this article, it enjoyed its success with relatively little controversy. It was banned in relatively few countries, perhaps because it was so brash.
While it began as an ode to masturbation, the band’s lead singer Chrissie Amphlett later hoped the song would remind women to conduct annual breast exams. Tragically, she lost her own battle with breast cancer in April 2013.
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