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Sex (The 1975 song)

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"Sex"
The 1975 - "Sex" (Single).jpg
Single by the 1975
from the EP Sex and the album The 1975
Released23 August 2013
StudioRose Cottage (Wilmslow, Cheshire, England)
Genre
Length3:26
Label
Songwriter(s)
  • George Daniel
  • Matthew Healy
  • Adam Hann
  • Ross MacDonald
Producer(s)
The 1975 singles chronology
"Chocolate"
(2013)
"Sex"
(2013)
"Girls"
(2013)
Music video
"Sex" on YouTube

"Sex" is a song by English band the 1975 from their second extended play (EP) of the same name (2012) and eponymous debut studio album (2013). The song was written by band members George Daniel, Matthew Healy, Adam Hann and Ross MacDonald. The band co-produced the EP version of the song with Michael and Robert Coles, while Mike Crossey provided additional production. The album version, produced by Crossey and the band, was released as the lead single on 23 August 2013 by Dirty Hit, Polydor Records and Vagrant Records. Written at the age of 19, Healy said the song represents a love letter to prudish teenage girls.

An indie rock, indie pop and emo song, "Sex" contains elements of Britpop, power pop and pop-punk. Centred around spontaneous sexual intercourse and relationship allegiances, the song's lyrics discuss teenage angst, lust and infidelity. Upon release, the song received generally positive reviews from contemporary music critics, who praised its instrumentation, hooks and nostalgic lyrics, with some deeming it a highlight from Sex and The 1975. The song peaked at number 34 on the UK Singles Chart and number 35 on the US Billboard Alternative Airplay chart, and later was certified gold in both countries. Three music videos were released to accompany the song, including one set to an acoustic rendition of the track and a black and white version. The main version, directed by Adam Powell, was released on 26 July 2013. The visual depicts teenagers having sex, partying and taking drugs.

Background and development[edit]

In January 2012, the 1975 was formed by singer Matthew Healy, drummer George Daniel, guitarist Adam Hann and bassist Ross MacDonald, who had played music together since 2002.[1][2] After being rejected by a number of major record labels, artist manager Jamie Osborne discovered the band and signed them to his label Dirty Hit. The 1975 were introduced to producer Mike Crossey, who aided them in the development of their debut album. Following the record's completion, the band chose to develop four extended plays (EP) based on the album tracks "The City", "Sex" and "Chocolate": Facedown (2012), Sex (2012), Music for Cars (2013) and IV (2013).[1][2] The 1975 were recognised as a breakthrough act in 2013,[3] having achieved commercial success with the sleeper hit "Chocolate", which became a radio staple.[4] In May 2013, the band announced their eponymous debut album would be released on 9 September; it was ultimately released on 2 September 2013 and includes "Sex".[5][6]

Written when Healy was 19, "Sex" is a song about dallying with an indecisive yet flirtatious woman who is unable to make up her mind; in a performance hosted by Last.fm, Healy described the track as a love letter to "every prudish 17-year old girl". He also rejected the idea that the song is "brash", instead arguing that "Sex" is "[the singer] at [his] most romantic", and that it reflects the personality of his youth.[7] The song initially appeared on the 1975's EP of the same name; its production was handled by the band alongside Michael and Robert Coles, while Crossey provided additional production and was responsible for mixing the track.[1][8] An updated version of "Sex", produced by Crossey and the band, was later released as the lead single from The 1975 on 23 August 2013.[9][10][11]

Music and lyrics[edit]

Musically, "Sex" is an indie rock,[12] indie pop and emo song.[13][14] The song has a length of three minutes and twenty-six seconds (3:26) and was written by the 1975 members George Daniel, Healy, Adam Hann and Ross MacDonald.[6][9] The track's production incorporates minimal synths,[15] stadium-rock guitars,[16] coarse guitar lines and "shimmery" riffs, pounding drums, strained chords and a post-rock-influenced middle eight.[17][18][19] "Sex" also draws influence from power pop,[17] Britpop and pop-punk music.[19][20] While the re-recorded album version of the song features additional synths and layers, it largely retains the composition of the original EP version.[16] Healy's vocal delivery in the track was described as near-spoken word by Alexander De Petro of Music Feeds.[12]

The lyrics to "Sex" explore themes related to teenage angst, lust, sex, and infidelity.[12][18][21] Many of the track's lyrics describe literal scenes, such as the line: "My shirt looks so good, when it's just hanging off your back."[21] Elsewhere, Healy discusses relationship allegiances,[11] pondering the merits of receiving fellatio from a woman who already has a romantic partner with the lyrics: "And I'm not trying to stop you love, but if we're going to do anything we might as well just fuck."[22][23] In the track's hook, Healy repeatedly exclaims: "She’s got a boyfriend anyway."[19][24]

Reception[edit]

Amanda Koellner of Consequence wrote that "Sex" is the "attention-grabbing centerpiece" of the EP Sex.[20] Reviewing the original version of the song, Brightest Young Things writer Bryce Rudow complimented Healy's vocals for their melodic quality while also praising the track's "catchy" production.[17] Nothing but Hope and Passion's Norman Fleischer asserted "Sex" represents the EP's "obvious" standout and called it an "instant adolescent anthem".[23] In her review of the EP Sex, Shaina Pearlman of Paste said the song is instrumental in demonstrating the 1975's strengths; she was favourable toward the track's hooks and pop-influenced production, deeming it "the kind of song that makes people—and perhaps major labels—take notice".[24] Reviewing the EP for Hit the Floor Magazine, Amy Jones declared "Sex" the set's standout song, commending the prominence of Healy's vocals and the track's subdued production, which she said allows the band to showcase their "incredible instrumental work".[15] In a ranking of the 1975's ten best songs, NME listed the original version of "Sex" at number three; the list's curator, Tom Connick, lauded its "rough-edged brilliance", Americanised pop-punk production elements and the hook's nostalgic teenage sentiment, commenting it is "punky, youthful and laced in a cheeky charm".[19]

Andy Gill of The Independent and Digital Spy writer Lewis Corner declared "Sex" a highlight from The 1975, with the former describing it as an "infectious pop thrill".[25][26] Pitchfork's Jayson Greene opined that the song is a "a perfect Jimmy Eat World mall-emo anthem" and deemed it the band's best track.[27] Vulture included "Sex" in the publication's unranked list of the 10 Essential 1975 Songs; Larry Fitzmaurice compared it to Jimmy Eat World and LCD Soundsystem's "All My Friends" (2007) while writing that retrospectively, the song acts as a "a practical blueprint for the type of passionate, immediately catchy melodies" which Healy would later employ in the band's future releases.[14] Caryn Ganz of Rolling Stone compared the track to the work of the Killers—specifically their song "Somebody Told Me" (2004)—and "All My Friends", calling it a "would-be smash".[28]

The Line of Best Fit's Laurence Day commented that "Sex" is evocative of the Killers' sound and complimented the updated production, which he deemed "fresher" than the original.[16] In contrast, the editorial staff of idobi were ambivalent toward the updated album version of the song, opining that Healy's vocals sounded too Americanised and unrecognisable from the original version.[29] Ray Rahman of Entertainment Weekly and Paste writer Hilary Saunders called the track "radio-friendly".[11][30] Writing for Gigwise, Chloe Ravat commended Healy's vocals and the production of "Sex", writing: "It deserves a massive stadium to really do it justice."[18] AllMusic writer Matt Collar said the song "drive[s] and climb[s] like the best anthemic '80s stadium rock" and commended its distillation of various influences into a single distinct sound, which he credits to delivering a "timeless" track.[6] DIY's Emma Swan praised the couplet, "she's got a girlfriend anyway", deeming it both the most memorable point on the album and the track's only decipherable line.[31]

In the 1975's native United Kingdom, "Sex" peaked at number 34 on the UK Singles Chart and number 23 on the UK Indie Chart,[32][33] and was later certified gold by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), denoting combined sales and streams of over 400,000 certified units in the UK.[34] Elsewhere in Europe, the song reached number 68 on the Belgian Ultratip Flanders chart.[35] In the United States, the track peaked at number 35 on the Billboard Alternative Airplay chart,[36] and was later certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), denoting combined sales and streams of over 500,000 certified units in the US.[37]

Music video[edit]

Prior to their formation as the 1975, the band recorded a music video featuring an acoustic rendition of "Sex" in late 2009. The visual was released under the 1975's former monicker Drive Like I Do.[38] A black and white music video, directed by James Booth, was released on 5 October 2012.[39] A video, directed by Adam Powell and set to the album version of the song, was released on 26 July 2013.[40] Eschewing their signature black and white aesthetic,[41] Healy called the shift toward colour "a massive step for [the band]". The singer also praised the "passion" and "understanding" of Powell, whom he described as a "true collaborative spirit" that led them to film the visual in Los Angeles.[42] Regarding the overall development of the music video, Healy said: "As a video, 'Sex' feels very uncompromised, unpredictable and from a artistic viewpoint, very honest. That is always our main goal as a band. We are very proud of it."[41]

The music video for the album version of "Sex" contains themes of love, crime, performance and sex.[43] The visual centres around a pair of teenage lovers partying and taking drugs.[13][44] Featuring sex scenes, smoking out of bongs, acid tripping and skinny dipping, the video was deemed NSFW by Sarah Bella of Music Feeds and the editorial staff of Variance.[41][42] Idolator writer Mike Wass called the visual "eye-popping" and compared it to the music videos of Robin Thicke, deeming it "music video porn".[44] Described as "naughty stuff" by Gigwise's Michaels Baggs,[13] Fleischer said the video serves as "visual proof of how far the band has come".[43] The reaction from the 1975's fanbase was mixed, with some expressing their disappointment in the band's decision to film the video in colour.[42] Regarding the fan reaction, Healy said: "I think what that is, is kids reinstating how cool they are and showing people that they saw us first. I get that. That's totally cool."[45]

Charts[edit]

Chart performance for "Sex"
Chart (2013) Peak
position
Belgium (Ultratip Flanders)[35] 68
UK Indie (OCC)[33] 23
UK Singles (OCC)[32] 34
US Alternative Airplay (Billboard)[36] 35

Certifications[edit]

Certifications and sales for "Sex"
Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[34] Platinum 600,000double-dagger
United States (RIAA)[37] Gold 500,000double-dagger

double-dagger Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

Credits and personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from Sex and The 1975 album liner notes.[8][9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Tingen, Paul (December 2013). "Secrets Of The Mix Engineers: Mike Crossey". Sound on Sound. Archived from the original on 12 November 2020. Retrieved 9 May 2021.
  2. ^ a b Cook, Beatrice (10 May 2013). "10 Minutes with: The 1975". Glasgow University Guardian. Archived from the original on 13 June 2021. Retrieved 13 June 2021.
  3. ^ Levine, Nick (2 November 2018). "The 1975 frontman Matt Healy calls Razorlight's Johnny Borrell a 'wanker'". NME. Archived from the original on 13 August 2020. Retrieved 22 March 2021.
  4. ^ "The 1975's biggest songs on the Official Chart revealed". Official Charts Company. 22 May 2020. Archived from the original on 18 February 2021. Retrieved 22 March 2021.
  5. ^ "The 1975 Reveal Album Details". Radio X. 29 April 2013. Archived from the original on 14 June 2021. Retrieved 13 June 2021.
  6. ^ a b c Collar, Matt. "The 1975 – The 1975". AllMusic. Archived from the original on 2 January 2021. Retrieved 4 January 2021.
  7. ^ "The 1975 - Interview (Last.fm Sessions)". CBS Interactive. 15 April 2013. Archived from the original on 14 June 2021. Retrieved 13 June 2021 – via YouTube.
  8. ^ a b Sex - EP (inlay cover). The 1975. Dirty Hit. 2012.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  9. ^ a b c The 1975 (inlay cover). The 1975. Dirty Hit. 2013.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  10. ^ Corner, Lewis (9 July 2013). "The 1975 confirm new single 'Sex' – listen". Digital Spy. Archived from the original on 14 February 2021. Retrieved 13 June 2021.
  11. ^ a b c Saunders, Hilary (10 September 2013). "The 1975: The 1975". Paste. Archived from the original on 14 June 2021. Retrieved 13 June 2021.
  12. ^ a b c De Petro, Alexander (9 September 2013). "Review: The 1975". Music Feeds. Archived from the original on 5 March 2014. Retrieved 15 June 2021.
  13. ^ a b c Baggs, Michael (28 July 2013). "The 17 rudest moments from The 1975's new 'Sex' video". Gigwise. Retrieved 18 June 2021.
  14. ^ a b Fitzmaurice, Larry (29 November 2018). "10 Essential 1975 Songs". Vulture. Archived from the original on 28 January 2021. Retrieved 9 May 2021.
  15. ^ a b Jones, Amy (25 November 2012). "Review: The 1975 – Sex (EP)". Hit the Floor Magazine. Archived from the original on 17 August 2019. Retrieved 9 May 2021.
  16. ^ a b c Day, Laurence (26 August 2013). "The 1975 – The 1975". The Line of Best Fit. Archived from the original on 31 December 2019. Retrieved 15 June 2021.
  17. ^ a b c Rudow, Bryce (11 October 2012). "Tunes You Should F*cking Know... This Week". Brightest Young Things. Archived from the original on 23 October 2020. Retrieved 9 May 2021.
  18. ^ a b c Ravat, Chloe (20 August 2013). "Track by Track Review: The 1975 – The 1975". Gigwise. Archived from the original on 1 October 2020. Retrieved 15 June 2021.
  19. ^ a b c d Connick, Tom (20 February 2019). "The 1975 – their 10 best songs". NME. Archived from the original on 18 January 2021. Retrieved 28 February 2021.
  20. ^ a b Koellner, Amanda (19 November 2012). "Album Review: The 1975 – Sex EP". Consequence. Archived from the original on 13 May 2021. Retrieved 9 May 2021.
  21. ^ a b Watson, Sian (5 September 2013). "Review: The 1975 mix it up on debut album". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 15 June 2021.
  22. ^ Hann, Michael (29 August 2013). "The 1975: The 1975 – review". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 2 May 2021. Retrieved 15 June 2021.
  23. ^ a b Fleischer, Norman (15 November 2012). "The 1975 – Sex EP". Nothing but Hope and Passion. Archived from the original on 10 March 2018. Retrieved 9 May 2021.
  24. ^ a b Pearlman, Shaina (20 November 2012). "The 1975: Sex EP". Paste. Archived from the original on 22 September 2020. Retrieved 9 May 2021.
  25. ^ Gill, Andy (29 August 2013). "Album review: The 1975, The 1975 (Polydor)". The Independent. Archived from the original on 3 May 2021. Retrieved 15 June 2021.
  26. ^ Corner, Lewis (30 August 2013). "The 1975: 'The 1975' – Album review". Digital Spy. Archived from the original on 5 May 2021. Retrieved 15 June 2021.
  27. ^ Greene, Jayson (12 September 2013). "The 1975 – The 1975". Pitchfork. Archived from the original on 3 June 2021. Retrieved 15 June 2021.
  28. ^ Ganz, Caryn (18 October 2013). "The 1975". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 3 June 2021. Retrieved 15 June 2021.
  29. ^ "The 1975 – Self-Titled: Album Review". idobi. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 15 June 2021.
  30. ^ "The 1975 (2013)". Entertainment Weekly. 5 September 2013. Archived from the original on 22 January 2014. Retrieved 15 June 2021.
  31. ^ Swann, Emma (2 September 2013). "The 1975 – The 1975". DIY. Archived from the original on 22 October 2015. Retrieved 15 June 2021.
  32. ^ a b "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 1 September 2013.
  33. ^ a b "Official Independent Singles Chart Top 50". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 1 September 2013.
  34. ^ a b "British single certifications – The 1975 – Sex". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 27 February 2022.
  35. ^ a b "The 1975 – Sex" (in Dutch). Ultratip. Retrieved 1 February 2014.
  36. ^ a b "The 1975 Chart History (Alternative Airplay)". Billboard. Retrieved 24 June 2014.
  37. ^ a b "American single certifications – The 1975 – Sex". Recording Industry Association of America.
  38. ^ Ralph, Caitlyn (28 June 2016). "Here are five videos of the 1975 before they were the band you know today". Alternative Press. Archived from the original on 3 June 2021. Retrieved 13 June 2021.
  39. ^ "The 1975 – Sex [EP Version]". Vevo. 5 October 2012. Archived from the original on 30 March 2021. Retrieved 9 May 2021 – via YouTube.
  40. ^ "The 1975 – Sex (Album Version)". Vevo. 26 July 2013. Archived from the original on 19 June 2021. Retrieved 18 June 2021 – via YouTube.
  41. ^ a b c Bella, Sarah (31 July 2013). "The 1975's 'Sex' Gets An Appropriately Explicit Video". Music Feeds. Archived from the original on 30 November 2020. Retrieved 18 June 2021.
  42. ^ a b c "Watch: The 1975's 'Sex' Video—In Color". Variance. 30 July 2013. Archived from the original on 19 June 2021. Retrieved 18 June 2021.
  43. ^ a b Fleischer, Norman (29 July 2013). "The 1975 premiere new music video for Sex". Nothing but Hope and Passion. Archived from the original on 23 June 2019. Retrieved 18 June 2021.
  44. ^ a b Wass, Mike (26 July 2020). "The 1975 Drop A Sex-Filled, Um, 'Sex' Video: Watch The NSFW Extravaganza". Idolator. Retrieved 18 June 2021.
  45. ^ "The 1975: 'Fans have kicked off about 'Sex' video'". Gigwise. 30 July 2013. Retrieved 18 June 2021.

External links[edit]