Music that proves a right turn-on

By Adam Sherwin

Rhythm and romance - Bolero and Dirty Dancing - are among favourite picks for soundtracks in bedroom

Dirty Dancing provides a romantic fantasy for many women. Photo / Supplied
Dirty Dancing provides a romantic fantasy for many women. Photo / Supplied

The entire soundtrack to Dirty Dancing has been declared the music most apt for a bedroom encounter, with the orchestrated pleadings of Marvin Gaye and the crescendo of Ravel's Bolero, a new survey says.

But it seems there is no place for Bohemian Rhapsody and Bon Jovi in the bedroom.

Soul legend Gaye's reputation as the boudoir king is justified by the mood-enhancing combination of earthy vocals and lush, circular melodies, argues Dr Daniel Mllensiefen, music psychologist at Goldsmiths, University of London.

Dr Mllensiefen analysed the results of a Spotify survey of 2000 music fans, which identified the songs most likely to form the playlist for an amorous encounter.

Ravel's Bolero proved one of the most popular accompaniments to the act itself, along with the entire soundtrack to the 1980s film Dirty Dancing - a sign that women are more likely to control the soundtrack in the bedroom.

The film's storyline provides a romantic fantasy for many women and the collection of 1950s hits culminates with the ideal post-coital outcome, (I've Had) The Time of My Life.

Marvin Gaye's Sexual Healing and Lets Get It On were the songs most likely to help a couple to get in the mood.

The tracks that get us in the mood 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, said Dr Mllensiefen, co-director of the masters programme in music, mind and brain at Goldsmiths.

"These specific attributes are strongly evident in the Gaye tracks Sexual Healing and Lets Get It On.

"They are smooth and have no distracting orchestration. They possess a circular and emotional quality which goes really well with the voice, which conveys passion and emotion. Its very well suited to the bedroom."

Dr Mllensiefen admitted he was initially surprised by the popularity of Bolero as a musical aphrodisiac. But it makes sense, he said.

"It's 17 minutes long, the right length, and it builds in dynamics constantly to a huge crescendo. Rhythmically it is repetitive and features two melodies which spiral over and over."

The popularity of Bolero as seduction soundtrack can be traced to its use in 1979 film 10, as the backdrop to a scene in which Bo Derek makes love to Dudley Moore, rather than its more familiar guise as the soundtrack to a gold-medal performance by British ice-skaters Torvill and Dean at the 1984 Winter Olympics.

Men were more likely to defer to their partners when choosing a soundtrack. Much depended on taste, Dr Mllensiefen said. "If a woman doesn't like rock music then its best to avoid anything with loud guitars.

Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody topped the list of songs least likely to become a bedroom soundtrack.

Anything that is distracting or demands attention, or has elements of the unexpected, is not so good for romance, the psychology lecturer said. Bohemian Rhapsody has too many different parts and breaks.

"It breaks the concentration. These unexpected turning points do create strong emotional feelings, however, which can be positive in other contexts."

Hits and misses

Top five for the bedroom

1. Dirty Dancing - anything from the soundtrack
2. Marvin Gaye - Sexual Healing
3. Ravel's - Bolero
4. Berlin - Take My Breath Away
5. Barry White - anything from his collection

Best ignored

1. Queen - Bohemian Rhapsody
2. Kings of Leon - Sex on Fire
3. Robbie Williams - Angels
4. Meat Loaf - Bat Out of Hell
5. Bon Jovi - Livin' on a Prayer

- Independent

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