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Here Are 12 Songs You Didn’t Know Were About BDSM

On Valentine’s Day, listen to 12 tracks about the rougher side of love.

Valentine’s Day is a celebrated day of love and affection, hallmarked by the cheesy romantic imagery splashed on everything from cheap waxy chocolates to quickly forgotten stuffed bears peddled in every drugstore from here to Timbuktu. However, the holiday’s roots are grounded in murky, unverified legends that all tend to point to the martyrdom of one Saint Valentine, who by some accords was imprisoned for marrying young Christian couples, who were persecuted under the Roman law of the time, and gave a letter to his jailor’s daughter signed “From your Valentine” before his execution.

In order to accurately celebrate that dramatic encapsulation of love and bloodshed, we’ve turned the focus on the more violent delights experienced by those with a taste for the dark and unusual. That’s right, we’re talking BDSM – and not the milquetoast experimentation of first-time viewers of Fifty Shades, either. The 12 tracks below all directly or metaphorically refer to the world of kink in all its delectable glory, as brought to you by the world’s greatest purveyors of sex and cool: rock musicians.

From the hard industrial stylings of German fucklords Rammstein to the synth-driven sex pop of new-wavers Depeche Mode, a common thread of power, pain, and pleasure run through these songs with each charged riff and line. Some lean heavy on the carnal acts of bodily violence while some are more inclined to pull out the psychologically extreme (and use the word “slave” in the kink context: warning for those who prefer not to engage with that language), but all encapsulate a specific shared feeling of taboo fulfillment gained from enjoying the rougher things in life.

RAMMSTEIN – ICH TU DIR WEH

Rammstein have never shied from their indecent lusts and insatiable sexual appetites, whether through aggressively pounding, innuendo-laden songs or onstage sodomy simulations that landed singer Till Lindemann and Flake Lorenz in jail. The violent fantasies imagined in the lyrics of Ich Tu Dir Weh are horrifying for some and titillating for others: a boundary-pushing lust letter from a domineering master who finds sadistic pleasure in blood-letting, genitorture, and unrepentant corporal discipline for a desperate bottom. Till’s prominent dildo microphone in the song’s video does nothing to tamper the unrepentant lechery.

DEPECHE MODE – MASTER AND SERVANT

The slithering sexuality of Dave Gahan plays out front and center in nearly every Depeche Mode track, but they never reached quite the same level of outright domination and submission as on Master and Servant. The parallels drawn between power dynamics and everyday life are direct and smart with Gahan’s lyrics waxing philosophical on how everyone is getting fucked in some way, but one leaves you ‘fulfilled at the end of the day’. Bonus points for the brief reference to puppy play – that prowess is for advanced players only.

NINE INCH NAILS – HAPPINESS IN SLAVERY

A legendarily horny young Trent Reznor reportedly drew lyrical inspiration from the opening passage of The Story Of O, a french novel considered one of the most influential books about BDSM in history. In it, the main character, O, explores extreme submission at the behest of her subsequent Masters in a self-exploration of the most torturous variety. It’s hard to top Nine Inch Nails’ obsession with overt sexuality and incorporating kink aesthetic into the music and presentation, but Happiness In Slavery stands out in the band’s repertoire as a siren call of the well-behaved sub.

SISTERS OF MERCY – MORE

One of the most successful songs of the Sisters’ career, More is a yearning paean of carnal frustration from an unsatisfied lover attempting to tease out the freak in their apparently vanilla lover. Co-produced by Sisters Of Mercy’s leader Andrew Eldritch and Jim Steinman, the lush, operatic choral refrains echoing behind the singer’s inimitable rumbling baritone highlight the lustful desperation of the lyrics while the anxious, steady beats thrusts on. The video also serves to showcase Andrew and co.’s lithe, leather-clad sensuality as they writhe around onstage with the masked and beautiful back-up singers in a scene evocative of Eyes Wide Shut’s infamous orgiastic finale.

COMBICHRIST – GET YOUR BODY BEAT

On the nose and heavily influenced by the more subtly brilliant acts that came before them, Combichrist weren’t pulling any punches or hinting around with Get Your Body Beat. Corporal punishment is the name of the game on this 2000s club banger, with its hypnotic techno industrial beat and simple, to-the-point anthemic chorus. The video’s chain-link and black leather aesthetic in conjunction with the undulating crowd combine to make a dark and indulgent modern Roman orgy, as the group’s chaotically shot performance drives the revelers on in their search for ultimate physical release through pain.

DIE ÄRZTE – BITTE, BITTE

Like many songs about BDSM, Bitte Bitte is characterized by a sustained cold, industrial beat and incandescent desire tampered by the chill of the music. Lyrically, the track is a pathetic worm of a submissive begging his dominatrix to whip and torture him for gifts, money, and his undying loyalty. Bootlicking, body worship, and a fair bit of topping from the bottom are thematic currents in the lyrics, while the video here features various businessmen receiving their desired torture from a harnessed and powerful Mistress.

Nobody does kink quite like the Germans.

VELVET UNDERGROUND – VENUS IN FURS

The oldest and potentially most influential song on this list comes from Lou Reed’s music-changing group the Velvet Underground. As was commonplace for Lou, the track was ahead of its time and delved into darker themes than the band’s many generic psychedelic contemporaries waxing philosophical on bullshit like free love, flowers, and lysergic acid-inspired epiphanies. Lou kept it real and dirty, taking inspiration from the 1870 erotic novella of the same name by Austrian author Leopold von Sacher-Masoch who wrote the tale loosely based on his own obsession with a cruel woman who often wore fur. Lou’s creative interpretation of the tale includes a nod to the healing power of physical punishment for some with the poignant line, ‘Strike dear mistress, and cure his heart.’ Shiny leather boots, belt lashings, and tongued implements used to mark the submissive’s skin call up carnal images of pure indulgence, wrapped in swirling, opium-laced soundscapes and tambourine dreams.

SHE WANTS REVENGE – TEAR YOU APART

The deadpan, monotonous droning of She Wants Revenge singer Justin Warfield’s singular voice makes this darkwave dance floor anthem somewhat of a murder ballad that blurs the lines between danger and sex in a deliciously creepy fashion. An obsessive crush breeds neuroses in the lyrical protagonist, who envisions grabbing the object of his desire by the hair and telling her he’d like to ‘fucking tear [her] apart’ in an ambiguous act of violent salacity. The Joaquin Phoenix-directed surreal noir clip offers little clarity as to the resolution of the song’s true meaning, but potentially sheds light on issues of sexual assault and the madness of those too fixated on getting what they want. BDSM can be a fun, consensual experience between willing participants, but taken too far, it can be as abusive and scary for those involved. The band wanted that dualistic interplay of the song’s explicit imagery and the video to exist, though, as Justin once told an interviewer they didn’t like the very literal treatments suggested to them and “wanted to make something that was universal and powerful about being different, about being disenfranchised and an outsider.”

JUDAS PRIEST – A TOUCH OF EVIL

Priest’s leather daddy, studded aesthetic deserves not only its own entry on this list, but an entire list of its own if we’re being fair. However, Touch Of Evil is a direct dedication of Rob Halford’s obedient devotion to a hard-hearted lover whose stroke elicits the deepest, hardest yearning he feels. Several references to falling into a trance with desire bring to mind the subspace, the ecstatic state of mind experienced by a submissive when their emotional or physical limits are pleasurably pushed in a scene. The natural high of inhabiting that space reverberates in tandem with Rob’s high-pitched wails and the blazing guitar solos, creating a classic tribute to sexual nirvana.

STOOGES – I WANNA BE YOUR DOG

Simple and to the point, there aren’t many lyrics to interpret here beyond the sentiment expressed in the title of this 1969 Stooges classic. ‘I’ll lay right down in my favorite place,’ combined with the visual of a dog lapping water could surely be taken to reference oral sex, but the kinkiest aspect of this straightforward, fuzzed out, three-chord banger remains the Master and pet element. Interesting fact: I Wanna Be Your Dog emerged the same year as the official release Venus In Furs, and the Velvet Underground’s co-founder John Cale played the iconic single-note piano riff that occurs throughout the track.

BOY HARSHER – PAIN

Following in the long tradition of songs sung to potentially dominant partners in a time of sexual need, Pain is a fraught cry for help in the form of a meditative beating from a dangerous looking stranger. The lyrical main character sees this person and promises to follow them home in search of unique and stinging gratification. The verse beginning with ‘Where were you when I was out of line?’ reeks of a bratty bottom pushing the buttons of a tempted Dom/me in a teasing, repetitive manner, but the fun and games have a real goal as singer Jae Matthews cries out about needing the ‘dark side’ of this mysterious and powerful figure.

MINISTRY – MY POSSESSION

Taken from Ministry’s trajectory-changing 1986 album Twitch, My Possession is an electronic industrial dance track with nearly indecipherable lyrics the tell the story of a defiant, domineering man who has lost his concern for what is thought of him, he wants control and will take it by any means necessary. ‘You’re all slaves anyway,’ sings the unmediated Al Jourgensen as he talks of ‘grabbing and poking and bruising and choking.’ Dark synth and whispered delivery bely the sinister themes at hand, accentuating the quiet, confident power of a man who knows what he wants to do and how he’s going to do it.

***

WORDS: Kelsey Chapstick

Posted on February 14th 2019, 7:10pm
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