Making out is timeless — kisses rev up the romantic mood and stir the spirit, if not the loins. Make-out songs contain multitudes too, like the one playing when you sync with that special someone, or the tune that nano-second sucks you right back to high school when you held your teenage crush in a mind-blowing embrace. Perchance you remember making out on the disco floor when the wild tsunami rush of sensuality and freedom hit you, lights strobed and “Je t’aime” raced your heartbeat as Jane Birkin breathily simulated pleasure to Serge’s song written in homage to his affair with Brigitte Bardot. They had their song. We have “our” song — the one that’s seared into memory and flesh. Or the song you’ll play tonight when the mood lights dim.
In homage to these classic make-out tunes, one must mention in fairness, that with the right person you don’t need a song or anything at all, but just the one who is your whole world — as British Invasion songstress Cilla Black attests in “You’re My World.” Yes, it makes our list.
If you happen to be in retro make-out mode, here’s a classic formula: a turntable, a mattress on the floor, a candle aflame, and the wafting aroma of weed laced with patchouli incense. You can spin an album on a vintage Garrard turntable and employ the repeat function — you’ll gladly find it’s there for a reason!
“Never Gonna Give You Up” – Barry White
“I’m Gonna Love You Just a Little More Baby” — Barry White
Yes, two Barry White songs since you can never get enough. White’s ever-so-smooth bass-baritone just makes a person’s clothes come off. This Los Angeles singer who topped the disco charts is still The Man when it comes to irresistibly lush make-out music. Ditto for his gallant ode to womankind, “Whatever, Whatever, Girl I’ll Do It.”
“Lovesong” – The Cure
A perfect love song composed as a wedding homage to his wife by The Cure’s lead singer Robert Smith. The lyrics are melodic and dreamy with the promise of a love forever. “However far away, I will always love you…” As a make-out song, it’s on par with, but preferable to “Bolero,” which for all its merit has sadly become cliché.
“Butterfly” – Crazy Town
DJs attest that this song revs up the dance floor in a make-out kind of way. There’s something joyous and turn-on about this tune that sounds like endless summer and first love, “Come, come my lady, you’re my butterfly, my sugar, baby…” What’s not to like?
“Je t’aime…moi non plus” – Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin
When Brigitte Bardot asked Serge Gainsbourg to write the most beautiful love song for her — this is it. Even if you don’t understand French, it’s not about the words.
“So What” – Miles Davis
Opening tune on Kind of Blue. Zen and jazz and genius Bill Evans on keyboard. Though of course, all the musicians on this album are geniuses. Pure bliss and classic make-out music for the ages. In fact, one of the most superb albums of all time.
“To Love Somebody” – Bee Gees
These three Australian brothers could pass as dishy British rock stars in their heyday. Written with Otis Redding in mind, he tragically died in a plane crash before he could record it. The song melds idealism and desire in a sexy come-hither ballad.
“Romeo and Juliet” – Dire Straits
Romeo and Juliet revisited with philosophical lyrics like: “It’s just that the time was wrong.” Rewrite your own Romeo and Juliet story and this time it can have a they-lived-happily-forever ending.
“Shine on You Crazy Diamond” – Pink Floyd
At a spellbinding 25 minutes and 34 seconds and multiple parts, this song is perfect. If you know the backstory it’s an elegy. If you don’t, the lyrics captivate…because sometimes romance shines on like a crazy diamond. Sometimes you’re the crazy diamond…or the other person is…or everyone is. You catch my drift.
You’re My World – Cilla Black
Though we envision gaunt British dudes wearing velvet and lace Victorian frippery (looking fly) when we hear the term British Invasion — it also included dolly birds like Cilla Black who debuted with this soulful ballad on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1965, the same year The Beatles hit Sullivan’s stage.
“Nights in White Satin” – The Moody Blues
Like poetry, it’s sometimes hard to fathom the meaning of all the words, but the mysterious and sensual melody captivates. Were they knights wearing white satin or were nights spent in white satin? A lush and orchestral lava lamp for making out.
“You’ll Never Find” – Lou Rawls
From Chicago’s South Side, the R&B singer started singing as a child in his grandmother’s Baptist church choir. The three-time Grammy winner and actor’s smash hit topped the charts and defined the slick hooking-up sensuality of the ‘80s.
“So Long, Marianne” – Leonard Cohen
Before he became a global cult figure, Leonard Cohen penned this classic for his muse Marianne. Yes, we know how their story ends, but this melodic romantic make-out song with a little bit of “so long” resonates, because there’s a little bit of goodbye in everything, isn’t there?
Listen to it all below.