New research reveals ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ among other songs is better than sex

Pic: Dr Müllensiefen

One in three people can name a track that they consider- “better than sex”, research reveals, with Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ scooping the number one spot for best song and Kings of Leon’s ‘Sex on Fire’ coming second.

In the study:  Science Behind the Song, six out of ten people believed that music gets themselves and their date in the mood for sex. And any song from the Dirty Dancing soundtrack was also voted the best choice of music for the bedroom by both men and women.

Goldsmiths’ lecturer Dr Daniel Müllensiefen, co-director of the Music, Mind and Brain course, was commissioned by Spotify, a leading digital music service, to study the long-standing relationship between music, romance and seduction. We have made  Spotify play-lists (below) so you can enjoy the music in your own bedroom.

He told EastLondonLines: “There isn’t much theory which was one of the challenging and at the same time interesting points. It was an exploratory study into what we would call functionary use of music.

“So how would people ingest music when music isn’t the main purpose of the activity, it’s more to achieve something when using music. And people are, as we know from other studies, quite intelligent in using music to achieve something. So the main purpose was basically how would people do that, do all people choose roughly the same sort of music or are they different in musical taste.”

The Science Behind the Song study revealed that 40 per cent of people say that listening to music is more arousing than other sensations such as touch, sounds and smells during sex.

Müllensiefen said: “It’s not more important than those but it is equally important and that is quite interesting because music is a much more abstract stimulus than the touch of the human body. So we think that the more simple stimuli and the more direct they are, the more arousing they are; but music has something that is cultural or aesthetic which is still equally important.

“It does make sense in the light of previous neuro-scientific findings where people have found that music can stimulate exactly the same areas that are active during other pleasurable activities, like food or sex or drug consumption for example; so it’s the same brain areas that get stimulated or can be stimulated.”

The study produced a series of play-lists which revealed the top 20 tracks for a romantic dinner, a flirt on the dance floor, songs to ‘get you in the mood’, songs to play during sex and songs that are even considered better than sex.

Müllensiefen explains that the media has a very strong impact on what people associate with romantic situations.

He said: “Most people have a good knowledge of what songs represent romance – mostly from film and TV references – and then use this music to communicate implicitly their intentions in a romantic situation. Music is a very effective for communicating romantic intentions because it has such a great impact on human emotions.”

Each playlist features movie theme songs including Ghost, Top Gun and Titanic, which conforms to the notion that our romantic choices are influenced by what is reflected in the media.

Müllensiefen said: “Bolero is number 3 of the top 20 songs to play while having sex which is quite interesting. But it is also a very famous film reference, from a film called ‘10’ which came out in 1979, where the famous sex scene used Bolero in the background. The characters in that film talk about Bolero being the ideal song for that moment. And this cultural reference or this cultural meaning has procreated into other films and other TV series and so forth.”

Songs that were named better than sex are all unique and can be considered ‘epic masterpieces’ he says.

“When listening to music we build up an expectation of how the music is going to continue. If it violates our musical expectations and takes a different turn our involuntary emotional response is highly positive and it is mainly these unexpected turning points in the music that generate strong emotional feelings.”

Marvin Gaye featured at the top of four out of the five play-lists with Let’s Get It On as the number one choice for a romantic dinner and Sexual Healing as the best song to get you in the mood.

But Müllensiefen says: “‘Let’s Get It On’ is obviously a stereotype over here. It probably has to do with usage in films and TV series of that particular song where people would pull out this song over and over again. There are definitely some idiosyncrasies with this being a British survey.So if you did it in the US or Germany you would definitely get quite a different selection of songs.”

Müllensiefen observed that the study unveiled that the best tracks for seduction in the bedroom all possess the same qualities including: a “greater dynamic range, more use of the high chest voice, more raspiness in the voice and less use of vocal vibrato.

“These specific attributes are strongly evident in the Marvin Gaye tracks, Sexual Healing and Let’s Get It On.”

Other older songs from the likes of Barry White and Elvis Presley also won the majority of the votes as opposed to current music from today’s charts. Müllensiefen explains why:

“One of the main reasons is the age of our sample. We had a mean age of about 42. I think songs that featured quite highly were songs that were popular when these people were about 15 to 25, like Dirty Dancing for example. It is a well known fact from the social psychology of music that the music that you listen to in your formative years will probably stay with you in your preference for the rest of your life.”

Surprisingly Black Laces’ ‘Agadoo’ made it to the top 20 of songs ‘better than sex’. He said: “That was an obvious joke entry, but the only one. We expected jokes because these questions were quite intimate and people react with being funny.”

Angela Watts, Vice President of global communications for Spotify, commented: “Music provides the soundtrack to the lives of Spotify users every day, wherever and whenever they are, and Spotify’s study reveals today that music plays a particularly big role when it comes to our love lives. We now know that Marvin Gaye is key to success when it comes to seducing a partner in the bedroom. And if you don’t have a partner, we can highly recommend Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, which is officially ‘Better than sex’!”

The study interviewed 2000 people aged between 18 and 91 years old, with an almost equal gender split.

Click on the links below to access the full Spotify play-lists

Top 20 Songs considered ‘Better Than Sex’

Top 20 Songs for a romantic dinner

Top 20 songs to flirt on the dance floor

Top 20 tracks to get ‘in the mood’

Top 20 songs to play during sex

Top 20 songs considered ‘better than sex’:

Queen-Bohemian Rhapsody

Kings of Leon – Sex On Fire

Robbie Williams- Angels

Meatloaf- Bat Out Of Hell

Bon Jovi- Living On A Prayer

Adele- Set Fire To The Rain

Black Lace- Agadoo

Pink Floyd- Comfortably Numb

Queen- Don`t Stop Me Now

Queen- I Want To Break Free

Faithless- Insomnia

Bruno Mars- Just The Way You Are

The Killers- Mr Brightside

Celine Dion- My Heart Will Go On

Guns`N`Roses- Paradise City

Coldplay- Viva La Vida

Queen- Who Wants To Live Forever


Top 20 tracks for a romantic dinner:

Marvin Gaye- Lets Get It On

Chris Deburgh- Lady In Red

Marvin Gaye- Sexual Healing

Eric Clapton- Wonderful Tonight

Andy Williams- Moon River

Elvis Presley- Love Me Tender

Celine Dion- My Heart Will Go On

Robbie Williams- Angels

George Michael- Careless Whisper

Whitney Houston- I Will Always Love You

Adele- Someone Like You

Savage Garden- Truly Madly Deeply

Al Green- Lets Stay Together

Lionel Richie- Three Times A Lady

Spandau Ballet- True

John Denver- Annie`s Song

James Blunt- Beautiful

Ravel- Bolero

Aerosmith- Don`t Wanna Miss A Thing

John Lennon- Imagine


Top 20 tracks for to flirt on the dance floor:

Abba- Dancing Queen

lMFAO- Sexy and I know It

Chris Deburgh- Lady In Red

Dirty Dancing- Anything From The Soundtrack

Rod Stewart- Do You Think I`m Sexy

Hot Chocolate- Sexy Thing

Pussycat Dolls- Don’t Cha

Kings of Leon- Sex On Fire

Maroon 5- Moves Like Jagger

Christina Aguilera- Dirrty

Tom Jones –Sex Bomb

Justin Timberlake- Sexy Back

Arctic Monkeys- I Bet You Look Good On The Dance floor

Right Said Fred- I`m Too Sexy

Bee Gees- Night Fever

Marvin Gaye- Sexual Healing

Nelly- Hot In Here

Marvin Gaye- Let’s Get It On

Sophie Ellis Bextor- Murder On The Dance floor

Beyonce- Single Ladies


Top 20 tracks to get ‘in the mood’:

Marvin Gaye- Sexual Healing

Marvin Gaye- Let’s Get It On

Barry White- Anything

Serge Gainsbourg- Je T`aime

Ravel- Bolero

Hot Chocolate- You Sexy Thing

Boyz To Men- I`ll Make Love To You

Kings Of Leon- Sex On Fire

R Kelly- Bump & Grind

Whitney Houston- I will Always Love You

Robbie Williams- Angels

Elvis Presley- Love Me Tender

Marvin Gaye- Get It On

Donna Summer- I Feel Love

Adele- Make You Feel My Love

Andy Williams- Moon River

IMFAO- Sexy And I Know It

Adele- Someone Like You

Lionel Richie- Anything

Nine Inch Nails- Closer


Top 20 tracks to play during sex:

Dirty Dancing- Anything From The Soundtrack

Marvin Gaye- Sexual Healing

Ravel- Bolero

Barry White- Anything

Marvin Gate- Let`s Get It On

Whitney Houston- I will Always Love you

Berlin- Take My Breath Away

Serge Gainsbourg- Je T`aime

Aerosmith- Don`t Want To Miss A Thing

Ghost- Ghost

Celine Dion- Titanic

Kings Of Leon- Sex On Fire

Rodgers Hammerstein- Sounds Of Music

Celine Dionne- Titanic

Righteous Brothers- Unchained Melody

Grease- Grease

Donna Summer- I Feel Love

Boys To Men- I`ll Make Love To You


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