The ‘If I Play This R&B Singer’s Music, Will He Help Me Have Sex?’ Chart

The first time I tried to have sex with the woman whom I eventually married was some time during the spring semester of 2000. We were in college, and we’d gone on exactly one date at that point and she didn’t throw up or try to stab me, so in my brain I just was like, Yep. We are definitely having sex the next time we see each other.

Now, I’m probably not that great at sex, but I’m all-world at planning for it. My most devastating pregame move on this occasion: I spent a good hour or so making a CD for us to listen to while we did what I’d figured we’d be doing. It was 16 songs long (which would’ve given me enough time to have sex about 13 times, I guess). I don’t remember all the songs that were on it, but I remember three of them:

1. Ginuwine’s unstoppable “So Anxious” (1999): This one was on there because it’s perfect. So I was putting it on every compilation mix I made back then. It didn’t matter what it was for; romance, shopping, workouts, whatever. Bro, I was doing the sexiest pull-ups anyone ever saw back then because of Ginuwine.

2. Keith Sweat’s “Make It Last Forever” (1987): This one was on there because I wanted her to know I had a little thing called class.

3. Aaliyah’s “One in a Million” (1996): This one was on there because it’s assertive without being aggressive, passionate without being corny, and interesting without being obtrusive. “One in a Million” is basically the perfect Sex CD starting point.

I made the CD, put it in the CD player, set the remote next to the bed, then called Pre-Wife and asked if she wanted to come over and watch movies in my dorm room. She said yes, so I hung up the phone, did, like, 40 push-ups, then waited by the door and tried to look accidentally handsome.

When she got there, we got like maybe 20 minutes into the movie before I moved in. (I’d like to say the movie was something smart and sophisticated like Being John Malkovich, but it’s much more likely it was that soccer movie in which Jonathan Brandis dresses up like a girl to play for Rodney Dangerfield’s soccer team.) Things seemed to be going well during the kissing, so I blindly grabbed at the remote, found it, then pawed at it until the music clicked on.

The opening of “One in a Million” came softly cricketing out of the speakers and it was perfect. What a great song that is. I felt it in my cells. Everything was set, until everything unraveled. She pulled back, slowly looked at the CD player, processed what she was hearing, looked back at me, then furrowed her brow a bit. “Did you set that up ahead of time?” she asked. “You assumed we were going to have sex?” It was a critical overplay.

Now, I’m going to stop the anecdote here, in part because the things that happened after that are not things I care to discuss in a public forum, but more so because we’re at a segment of the story when the point I’m making can be stated plainly: A perfect song selection isn’t perfect if it isn’t played at the appropriate time.

So that’s why this exists:

R and B Chart Edit

Shea Serrano


This is the “If I Play This R&B Singer, Will He Help Me Have Sex?” Chart. It’s a chart that will help you figure out which R&B singers will help you have sex and which ones won’t. Keep in mind, this is a supplement. This chart operates under the assumptions that (a) you’ve had an enjoyable evening with a partner you are on agreeable terms with, (b) you are in a clean place that affords adequate privacy, and (c) you are at the cusp of the evening’s intimate hours. That’s when you refer to this. Not on a Tuesday afternoon after you just offered to take him or her to Arby’s. You can’t just play Prince and then, malibooyah, he or she is in your lap with a mouthful of curly fries. This won’t work then.


Probability of sex: 22 percent

I actually thought he’d rate higher here. “Whenever, Wherever, Whatever” (from 1996’s Maxwell’s Urban Hang Suite) is a legit amazing song. Also, when Maxwell used to have all of his hair he looked like if a human and a lion had mated, and that’s maybe the sexiest of all human/animal combos. It’s just that so much of the stuff in his discography is so delicate and high-pitched that after a handful of songs it can become a little too overwhelming, like when you put too much syrup on your pancakes. He’ll help you, just not as much as you’d expect.

John Legend

Probability of sex: negative-41 percent

Nope. Don’t do this. Don’t even do this. “All of Me” is sweet, but don’t do this. John Legend isn’t built for this game. I mean, remember when he tried to be sexy in 2012 on “Tonight (Best You Ever Had)”? It was adorable. It was like watching a toddler walking around a wedding in his little toddler tuxedo. Oh, little Johnny. You are a gem.

Anthony Hamilton

Probability of sex: negative-76 percent

You don’t listen to Anthony Hamilton if you want to have sex. You listen to Anthony Hamilton if everything in your love life is falling apart (“Charlene”) or you listen to Anthony Hamilton if you wanna reminisce (“Comin’ From Where I’m From”) or you listen to Anthony Hamilton if you live in 1970 (every single song) and that’s it. He’s perfect for those things. Terrible for sex.


Probability of sex: 91 percent

Oh, man. You want to end the “Is there a God?” debate? You don’t cite the complexity of the human eye or the depth of the universe, you just email out a link to “Differences” and then watch all the atheists and agnostics drop down to their knees in reverence. I mean, there’s literally a part in the video when he pop-locks in heaven. How much more proof do you need? Because that seems like plenty. When I die I’m walking right past the pearly gates and up to God and high-fiving him for making Ginuwine, because he got that one all the way right.

Boyz II Men

Probability of sex: negative-20 percent

Its one true sex song (“I’ll Make Love to You”) is a classic and you’d do well to play that one, but the cumulative score gets dragged down into the muck because Boyz II Men mostly spent its time on songs saying good-bye to things (“End of the Road”; “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday”; “On Bended Knee”; “Water Runs Dry”).

Sidebar: Remember when Boyz II Men was on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air? Man, that was so dope. It was a combination of two of the things I loved most. I think I cried for, like, 36 straight hours after I saw it.

Keith Sweat

Probability: 18 percent

Did you know Keith Sweat’s real last name is “Crier”? Two things:

  1. Crier? That’s unfortunate.
  2. You get the chance to pick a new last name AND YOU GO WITH “SWEAT”? I don’t understand what happened there. Was he only allowed to choose from body fluids? If so, then I guess it makes sense. It’s better than Keith Vomit. Otherwise, total misstep.


Probability of sex: negative-10 percent

Jaheim is the guy who they show on the prison documentary standing in the circle of guys singing a song he wrote during lockdown. That’s Jaheim’s whole career in a 24-word sentence. That’s a little thing called being efficient.


Probability of sex: Bro.

Just go ahead and start your registry at Babies ‘R’ Us, because you’re getting, like, five or six people pregnant if you pull this move. If you play Prince after dark and someone hears it, that person immediately gives birth. Playing Prince after dark is like when you pour water on a Mogwai. You’re not ready for this level.


Probability of sex: negative-43 percent


P.S. Ne-Yo, if you happen to read this: Sorry for using your mug shot for the chart. It’s just the most perfect picture I’ve ever seen, is all.

P.P.S. Ne-Yo, also, please tell Columbus Short to make a real sequel to Stomp the Yard, because the sequel that got made was a total dump. Thanks. You’re an angel.

Jon B.

Probability of sex: 65 percent

Jon B. is the coolest non-black R&B singer of all time. Nobody did more for interracial relationships than Jon B. Book it.


Probability of sex: negative-22 percent

These guys are most famous for 1997’s “Too Close,” a song that’s all about getting an erection while dancing with a girl. For real. FOR REAL, for real. That’s the entire song. The first line is literally “I wonder if she could tell I’m hard right now.”

I am so glad I didn’t have any daughters.

Johnny Gill

Probability of sex: 15 percent

One word, three times: “My, My, My.”

Johnny’s getting the job done.

Trey Songz

Probability of sex: negative-95 percent

Every time I get mad at someone under 25 years old for anything, I have to stop and take a step back and remember that I grew up with Ginuwine and this person grew up with Trey Songz. What a tragedy.


Probability of sex: 90 percent

Two things:

1. I can’t even look directly at pictures of D’Angelo from the ’90s. It’s like being an arm’s length away from the sun. What a work of art. If you’ve never re-created the “Untitled” video in your bathroom with your cell phone, then why do you even have a cell phone?

2. I actually saw D’Angelo earlier this year at the big shopping mall in Houston that all the famous people go to when they come here. He was in Brookstone. He didn’t look like he was great shape. Still, I’m a very big fan of his so I charged up on him like a girl. I was like, “Oh my God, you’re D’Angelo. That’s so crazy. Man, I love your music so much. You’re so talented. Do you have any new stuff coming?” I just kept going and going. I probably talked for two minutes straight. And when I was done he just looked at me. He didn’t say a single word. Like, NOT ONE. And I was real disappointed. I mean, I have all of his tapes, I’ve watched all of his videos. All that stuff, man. And so I was thinking that while I was standing there staring at him waiting for him to talk. And then I realized: Oh shit. I wasn’t talking to D’Angelo. It was just this old leather chair that some old lady had set a vest down on. It was very embarrassing for me.

Brian McKnight

Probability of sex: ???

McKnight is the only guy on this chart whose ranking is situational. If your girl is younger than 36, he is a negative one million percent. If she’s older, he’s a plus one million percent. This one’s on you.

Robin Thicke

Probability of sex: 62 percent

In 2009, I was writing for the Houston Press, an alt weekly in Houston that’s part of the Village Voice family. Thicke was in town hosting a listening party for Sex Therapy: The Session at a club (he was traveling around the country doing it, if I’m not mistaken) so I got sent out there to cover it. We hung out and talked for something like 10 or 15 minutes. He was polite and smelled very good and smiled a lot and did this thing where when he was really proud of an answer he was giving he would lean forward and place his right hand on his left hand and angle his elbow out. But that’s not what I remember most. What I remember most is how aggressively women threw themselves at Thicke. At one point during our conversation, one woman dropped down from the rafters into his VIP section and landed in the splits like, “Oh hey, Robin.” Robin Thicke gets ’em going. You’re gold here.

Teenage Usher

Probability of sex: negative-72 percent

When Usher and Tyrese teamed up for the “My Way” video, that was like when Pacino and De Niro got together in Heat, except about a billion times better.


Probability of sex: 23 percent

But if your partner leaves you, there is a 100 percent chance he or she comes back if you play Babyface’s “When Can I See You.”

35-Year-Old Usher

Probability of sex: negative-29 percent

Scores better than Teenage Usher but he’s still Usher* so it’s a no-go.

*The sexiest song Usher has ever appeared on, “Lovers and Friends,” is actually a Lil Jon song. Think on that.


Probability of sex: 82 percent



Probability of sex: negative-3 percent

The song “Cupid” pushed it all the way to a 94 percent score, but the rest of its discography pulled it all the way down to negative-3 percent. “Peaches and Cream”? FOH.


Probability of sex: 9 percent

See, this is the way to go. Tank was born Durrell Babbs. When he got the chance to give himself a new name he went right past normal and all the way to a goddamn warfare machine. That’s how you take advantage of the situation, Keith Sweat.

Musiq Soulchild

Probability of sex: negative-66 percent

Don’t play this. People don’t want to have sex when they hear Musiq Soulchild. You know what they want when they hear Musiq Soulchild? They want to not be hearing Musiq Soulchild.

Justin Timberlake

Probability of sex: 50 percent

The second-greatest non-black male R&B singer of all time. Kudos to him for that. I didn’t think I’d ever see him recover from those cornrows. What spirit, what perseverance he’s shown.

Jamie Foxx

Probability of sex: negative-7 percent

I never understand Foxx’s hairline. That sucker jumps around all over his head. Google it. Google “Jamie Foxx Hairline.” Click images. Have your mind blown. That shit moves up and down his forehead like the tides. It’s the greatest mystery of our generation.

Frank Ocean

Probability of sex: 17 percent

I kind of wanted him to be singing to me on “Forrest Gump.” He wasn’t though. :(

The Weeknd

Probability of sex: negative-33 percent

The Weeknd was WAY sexier before anyone knew what he looked like, right?

R. Kelly

Probability of sex: 84 percent (or negative-84 percent)

Here’s the thing: Each one of these, whenever I was placing them on the chart, I’d ask my wife, “Would it increase my chances of having sex with you if I played this person’s music?” When we got to Kells, whose 1993 album, 12 Play, soundtracked basically all of my imaginary sexual encounters from 1993 to 1996, her response was, “No. Not at all. It’d probably do the opposite. He’s just gross. Even if you could somehow erase all of the [molestation] stuff attached to his name, it still wouldn’t. Sex music can be a little raunchy, but his goes beyond that. His is perverted.”

So basically what I’m saying is that there’s a very real possibility this number is all the way wrong if you’re hoping to have sex with a real, actual woman. But if you’re hoping to have sex with me, it is spot-on.

Chris Brown

Probability of sex: negative-100 percent

Let’s pretend that, like Kelly, we’re able to look at Breezy and consider him without looking at or considering all the stuff his name carries with it. He still gets a negative-100 perfcent. He’s just too nasally. It’s like he’s singing through a kazoo. And nobody’s ever been like, “Ooooh, boy. That kazoo is doing all the right things to me.” F+O+H, Chris.


Probability of sex: 44 percent

Tyrese has a tribal tattoo around his belly button. Tyrese has a tribal tattoo around his belly button. Tyrese has a tribal tattoo around his belly button. Tyrese has a tribal tattoo around his belly button. Tyrese has a tribal tattoo around his belly button. Tyrese has a tribal tattoo around his belly button. Tyrese has a tribal tattoo around his belly button. Tyrese has a tribal tattoo around his belly button. Tyrese has a tribal tattoo around his belly button. Tyrese has a tribal tattoo around his belly button. Tyrese has a tribal tattoo around his belly …

Filed Under: Music, R&B, Maxwell, R. Kelly, Chris Brown, Next, 112, Musiq SOulchild, Usher, Tank, Tyrese, D'Angelo, Keith Sweat, Boyz II Men, Jaheim, Jon b., Ne-Yo, Prince, Ginuwine

Shea Serrano is a staff writer for Grantland. His latest book, The Rap Year Book: The Most Important Rap Song From Every Year Since 1979, Discussed, Debated and Deconstructed, is a New York Times best seller and is available everywhere.

Archive @ SheaSerrano