1. Ike Turner, "She Made My Blood Run Cold"
These days, Ike Turner is mainly remembered as the violent, abusive ex-husband of Tina Turner, but in the 1950s, he was on top of the R&B world with tracks like "Rocket 88," often cited as the first true rock 'n' roll song. He recorded the chilly classic "She Made My Blood Run Cold" in 1957, lyrically riffing on Little Willie John's earlier sexiness-as-sickness R&B hit "Fever." Turner's tune turns down the temperature with the tale of a woman whose kisses literally cause a drop in his body heat. Turner complains to his doctor of symptoms including a frozen heart and "icicles hanging from my eyes"—especially unusual since STDs typically cause a burning sensation instead. Perhaps reflective of Turner's view of women, the frosty femme fatale doesn't appear to have any remorse for her icy touch, even after she kills Ike's doctor merely by flirting with him. Now that's cold.
2. The Darkness, "Growing On Me"
Time hasn't been kind to The Darkness, an ironically dumb arena-rock band without the wealth of guilty pleasures an honestly dumb arena-rock band provides. "Growing On Me," from the band's winning 2003 debut, Permission To Land, might be the only Darkness song with a lyric worth analyzing: Is it about falling in love with a girl who gives you genital warts, or is getting genital warts a metaphor for the pleasure and pain of romantic obsession? Either way, this might be the most uplifting STD-related song ever. "I wanna shake you off, but you just won't go / And you're all over me, but I don't want anyone to know / That you're attached to me, that's how you've grown / Won't you leave me, leave me alone?" Pleading won't help, but a doctor might.
3. Elastica, "Stutter"
Because men have traditionally dominated rock 'n' roll, countless songs celebrating sexual machismo have gone unchallenged. Is there a mass of insecurity lurking beneath all the chest-thumping and leering innuendos found in the average AC/DC song? Of course there is, and mostly female Britpop band Elastica captures it with the dryly dismissive impotence ode "Stutter," where singer Justine Frischmann voices what women really think when a man ends up being all talk and no action. "Is there something you lack when I'm flat on my back?" Frischmann asks with a smirk, subverting the power structure of the traditional rock song and throwing it back in men's faces. Then comes the dagger: "Is it just that I'm much too much for you?" Even Mick Jagger would hide under the covers after hearing that.
4. Art Brut, "Rusted Guns Of Milan"
Art Brut's debut, Bang Bang Rock & Roll, has many charms, though this song about erectile dysfunction lies near the top of the list. Frontman Eddie Argos alternately apologizes profusely to his partner ("I'm sorry, I'm so sorry / Can I get you a cup of coffee?") and psyches himself up for another attempt (by repeating "I know I can" more than 20 times). It's all for naught, though: Nothing's happening down there. Is the booze to blame? No. "It's something wrong with the way I think," he says cryptically—the problem could be more serious than it appears. As his bandmates harmonize "oooh, wah oooh" with him over a midtempo chord progression, Argos pleads with his lover to leave the lights on—and more important, "Don't tell your friends! / I promise it won't ever happen again."
5. Bob Dylan, "Ballad Of A Thin Man"
In the '60s, "Thin Man"'s stinging refrain—"you know something is happening, but you don't know what it is, do you, Mr. Jones?"—became a widely embraced reference for a square who couldn't see the revolution right in front of his eyes. But there's another meaning hidden not-so-deeply in the song's hazy identity issues, suggesting a far more personal confusion: Mr. Jones is a deeply closeted, self-loathing gay man slowly forced to confront his true sexual identity. Dylan fills the song with blatant phallic imagery and metaphors for male-on-male oral sex wrapped in the description of a hopelessly bewildered man lost in a circus sideshow, strangely compelled by visions of naked men and sword-swallowers in high heels. And then there's the "one-eyed midget" who demands that Jones give him "milk." Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, but not here.
6. PJ Harvey, "Rub 'Til It Bleeds"
In her love songs, Polly Jean Harvey often sounds like a woman careening into disaster while hopelessly trying to redeem herself. So when she sings, "sweet babe, let me stroke it / Take, I'm giving," it's hard not cringe at the thought of how this might cost her her partner's favor. She also says, "Rest your head on me," but her breathy intonation and swelling power chords suggest that her ideas are more exciting than that. At the same time, they make this lover's cuddle sound far too unstable for just any old handjob. The suspense gets heavier as PJ leads the song through the repetition "I'll rub it until it, I'll rub it until it…"
7. Ice-T, "The Girl Tried To Kill Me"
Slathered in guitar riffs lifted wholesale from Run DMC, "The Girl Tried To Kill Me" oozes sleaze—which is pretty much the point. After the hero gets taken to the bed of a superhumanly endowed woman, she pulls out all the kinks: latex, leather, whips, and spikes, not to mention some "oversized vibrators" that T pointedly tells the audience are for her pleasure, not his. In the face of such a pounding, he manages to maintain his stamina—until her husband shows up for the inevitable punchline. Still, compared to The Iceberg's paranoid visions of dystopia, getting your unit practically snapped in half while knockin' boots sounds almost comforting.
8. Dead Kennedys, "Too Drunk To Fuck"
This 1981 single presented a problem for radio presenters; it made it to the UK Top 40 when it was released, but it couldn't be played or even referred to by name on the air. The title is provocation enough, but the contents go much further, with frontman Jello Biafra rapidly yammering out the story of an embarrassing evening with a would-be sexual partner who's also having inebriation problems. Their night starts coming apart when he drunkenly falls down the stairs, and it just devolves when they're alone: "But in my room, wish you were dead / You bawl like the baby from Eraserhead." A simple, charging chorus of "Too drunk to fuck" repeated over and over spaces out short, snappy verses that take the story even further downhill: "You give me head, it makes it worse / Take out your fuckin' retainer, put it in your purse!" Ouch. Eventually, Biafra develops diarrhea, then ends the track (and presumably the tryst) with graphic vomiting noises. "The only salvation," he says, is "I'll never see you again." Not that either of them are likely to remember much in the morning. They may well hook up again in the same fashion next weekend.