More Languidly Sultry Songs, Please!
February 10, 2014 1:58 PM   Subscribe

I love Lana Del Rey ridiculously, but I can only think of about one other song that pairs perfectly with her stuff: Chris Isaak's Wicked Game. What are some other artists or songs that fit into her languidly sultry niche?

The key things I'm responding to: An almost lazy delivery of the lyrics, weird sensuality, and big orchestration.

I don't mind that she has a crass commercial bent to her lyrics, in fact, I'd say that's part of what I might like about her (it fits in with all the Nabokov/Lolita stuff she references).

The other Chris Isaak songs I've listened to don't match up as well; Baby Did A Bad Bad Thing is a little too rockin', but could maybe pass. I'm not familiar enough with his oeuvre to cherrypick out the best Lana-esque tracks, so any recommendations there would be appreciated.

Let's see...more examples: Damien Rice almost hits it with Volcano, but most of his songs aren't quite sexy/trashy enough. Rufus Wainwright nails the sexy/languid delivery and orchestration on a lot of his stuff.

If it helps, it's the sort of stuff you'd listen to (or sing!) while getting increasingly drunk and rolling around on a big velvet heart-shaped bed after getting the phone call that your sexy criminal lover just got picked up by the cops again (for stealing a cherry red mustang) and won't be meeting you at the motel.
posted by redsparkler to Media & Arts (76 answers total) 141 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazelwood's Some Velvet Morning!
posted by munyeca at 2:05 PM on February 10, 2014 [2 favorites]

Something older, like Julie London ("Time for Love") or Delores Grey ("Warm Brandy") might fit. If you're okay with French, Serge Gainsbourg always pushes that button for me.
posted by Lardmitten at 2:21 PM on February 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Seconding Nancy Sinatra. Bang Bang is a pretty obvious antecedent.

That 50s/60s-LA-filtered-through-the-90s vibe is really David Lynch-y, so Julee Cruise works, too. Lana could easily be a waitress at the Double R.
posted by bcwinters at 2:21 PM on February 10, 2014 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Chris Isaak's Can't Do A Thing (To Stop Me), You Owe Me Some Kind of Love, Lie To Me, Wrong To Love You, etc...
posted by jabes at 2:23 PM on February 10, 2014

Best answer: Some, though not all, of Jessica Lea Mayfield's stuff hits that reverb-y foreshadowy sexiness, though not as fully orchestral (try this one).

Emily Wells' Becomes the Color and Mama's Gonna Give You Love both have a sort of post-destruction 4am feeling.
posted by amelioration at 2:28 PM on February 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

Someone mentioned this here, I think, in a recent thread - Mazzy Star covers a lot of the same stylistic territory as LdR. Elysian Fields might also float your boat. However, I think I prefer Jennifer Charles working with Mike Patton and Dan the Automator on Lovage - that would definitely hit the sexy/trashy thing, though it's more trip-hop than big orchestra.
posted by Ouisch at 2:32 PM on February 10, 2014

London Grammar - Metal & Dust or Hey Now maybe?
posted by reptile at 2:44 PM on February 10, 2014

Black Velvet by Alannah Miles?
Goodnight Moon by Shivaree
posted by runincircles at 2:45 PM on February 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

Fiona Apple - Slow like Honey
posted by lovableiago at 2:54 PM on February 10, 2014 [2 favorites]

Bryan Ferry - Slave To Love might be ridiculous enough. I'm sure he has some slower songs but I thought of his voice when I read your question.
posted by 0 answers at 2:56 PM on February 10, 2014

A lot of the songs on Shivaree's first album do this for me, especially Goodnight Moon.
posted by dizziest at 3:12 PM on February 10, 2014 [2 favorites]

Paula Cole's Feelin' Love.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:13 PM on February 10, 2014

Oh, also! Violet Indiana.
posted by dizziest at 3:15 PM on February 10, 2014

Also...Vanessa Daou: Two to Tango
She's a particular guilty listening pleasure of mine
posted by Thorzdad at 3:21 PM on February 10, 2014

Rufus Wainwright! Check out Go or Go Ahead or 14th Street.
posted by Clustercuss at 3:23 PM on February 10, 2014

Oh d'oh, just read entire original post, sorry. Got too excited for the chance to post about Rufus.
posted by Clustercuss at 3:24 PM on February 10, 2014

The Cowboy Junkies cover of "Sweet Jane"!

Or maybe "Crimson and Clover." Joan Jett has a rocking version, but I think Tommy James and the Shondells' version is way more sultry.
posted by toomuchkatherine at 3:26 PM on February 10, 2014

PJ, of course, for the plaintive side of languid: Is This Desire?
posted by mochapickle at 3:33 PM on February 10, 2014

Check out Buddy's lyrics in What Kind of Woman is This
posted by stinkfoot at 3:33 PM on February 10, 2014

How about If Love is a Red Dress by Maria mackee? Sorry I can't link my phone, but I like the version fr the Pulp Fiction soundtrack.
posted by lyssabee at 3:43 PM on February 10, 2014

Cowboy Junkies, Sweet Jane
Shivaree, Goodnight Moon
posted by scody at 4:14 PM on February 10, 2014

(and this is what I get for not ctrl-F'ing before I post)
posted by scody at 4:14 PM on February 10, 2014

Mojave 3
posted by davebush at 4:24 PM on February 10, 2014

Best answer: Charlotte Gainsbourg's 5:55. You might like some Portishead, like Roads and Glory Box. Peggy Lee's Is that all there is? Poe: Angry Johnny. Paloma Faith, though she may be less lazy and languid than you're seeking and more R&Bish, she's certainly odd enough though--check out New York and Do you want the truth or something beautiful?. Mazzy Star certainly falls on this spectrum: try Fade into you and Flowers in December. Golden Palominos: Gun.

(I love this question for selfish reasons)
posted by artlung at 4:25 PM on February 10, 2014 [6 favorites]

Best answer: Maybe MØ - Dust Is Gone fits?
posted by inigo2 at 4:34 PM on February 10, 2014

Oh, and Neko Case! Look for live stuff... Her Live in Austin album is wonderful dark alt-country, tinged with oil and blood and dust.
I'll Be Around
Furnace Room Lullaby
Deep Red Bells
posted by mochapickle at 4:39 PM on February 10, 2014

Manhattan by Cat Power
Sugar Buzz by K.D. Lang
Fever by Peggy Lee (a bit swingier than you might like)
Send in the Clowns by Barbra Streisand (ok, maybe more wistful than sultry but EVERYONE NEEDS TO HEAR THIS)
posted by thinkpiece at 4:42 PM on February 10, 2014

Caramel, Suzanne Vega
posted by mochapickle at 4:45 PM on February 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Constant Craving-K.D. Lang

We all have our favorites.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 4:45 PM on February 10, 2014 [2 favorites]

Also Suzanne Vega: My Favorite Plum
posted by mochapickle at 4:51 PM on February 10, 2014

Best answer: I almost didn't post this because I thought it was more on the emotional end of the sexy song spectrum, but then I listened to the Lana Del Ray song you linked to it and seems to be over there, too. So, not slinky-sexy, but bittersweet-sexy:

Rhye - Open

and if you're going to do that you might as well fuck it and do this too
posted by Beardman at 5:01 PM on February 10, 2014 [2 favorites]

Come Away With Me
Norah Jones
posted by BoscosMom at 5:02 PM on February 10, 2014

I am loving this thread and started a Spotify playlist and then a radio station from that playlist. The radio station is not being that accurate for me right now: it seems to think that since I put music from the 60s and then 90s on, I must want music that comes from the mid-70s. However! If you put *all* these songs into one playlist the Spotify Radio function might be useful at finding more.
posted by c'mon sea legs at 5:05 PM on February 10, 2014

Best answer: Goldfrapp's CD Felt Mountain has some languid, sultry songs - with a big twist of weird. They're borrowing from a sixties sensibility, among other things.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 5:16 PM on February 10, 2014 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks, everybody! The Jessica Lea Mayfield and Emily Wells tracks are perfect! And yes, Nancy Sinatra's Bang Bang is a perfect example of the weird sexy older song. Goldfrapp is also bringing the weird to a perfect degree, and Poe hits a lot of the right notes but is too uptempo for this. I don't know who the female vocalist is for MØ - Dust Is Gone, but that worked well, too, and I'll probably find a Paloma Faith track that makes the final cut.

Sade and Norah Jones are too clean! Even when they get sexy, it's still so pure and nice and wholesome!

C'mon sea legs, I've also been making a Spotify list off of this, but figured I was being too specific for an algorithm to figure it out.
posted by redsparkler at 5:30 PM on February 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Fiona Apple has already been mentioned, but I think her song Criminal is a better fit for your criteria.
Beth Orton - She Cries Your Name
Dido - Here With Me
Morphine - The Night or Top Floor, Bottom Buzzer
Morrissey - Jack the Ripper ( I prefer the live version)
Tori Amos' version of I'm Not in Love
posted by Jakey at 5:58 PM on February 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

A couple more that might work (I definitely always think of them as languid): The Style Council's Long Hot Summer (bonus: world's most absurd video) and It's a Very Deep Sea.
posted by scody at 6:01 PM on February 10, 2014

Holly Cole did an album (Temptation) of Tom Waits covers that might fit your requirements. Falling Down. I Want You. etc.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:03 PM on February 10, 2014

Oh! And if you want to go lo-fi on this feeling, my gawd but Angel Olsen is KILLING IT for me right now.
posted by amelioration at 6:21 PM on February 10, 2014

Air -- Playground Love!
posted by third word on a random page at 6:25 PM on February 10, 2014

Morrissey & Siouxsie - Interlude
posted by jeudi at 6:32 PM on February 10, 2014

posted by kagredon at 6:43 PM on February 10, 2014

Billie Holiday - Crazy He Calls Me ?
posted by xedrik at 6:44 PM on February 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

The Fiona Apple cover of Elvis Costello's I Want You might do it.
posted by thinkpiece at 6:56 PM on February 10, 2014

Tupelo Honey
posted by HuronBob at 7:23 PM on February 10, 2014

Best answer: Les Yeux Ouverts by The Beautiful South is pretty close to that Lana del Rey song.

Across the Universe by Fiona Apple (Beatles cover) is definitely right there.

Fade Into You by Mazzy Star. Winner.

Say Something New by The Concretes. Gets more upbeat later, but still in the neighborhood.

The Twin Peaks theme by Angelo Badalamenti. Dreamy and languid. A mix of tender and sultry. This guitar sound is what I equate in my head with the word "languid"

Or try the version with soft female vocals called "Falling" by Julee Cruise

Song to the Siren by This Mortal Coil. Otherworldly, spooky, dreamy, beautiful.

Good Times by Edie Brickell. Sexxxay. Barry White cameos fix pretty much anything when sultry is called for.

Cruisin' by Gwynneth Paltrow & Huey Lewis. I know I know I know, but seriously. Sexy sultry sweet.

Boom Boom Ba by Metisse. Spooky exotic.

Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover by Sophie B. Hawkins. More upbeat. The song alternates between languid/quiet and more up/active, but the quieter interludes are tingly sexy.

Plainsong by the Cure. No lyrics but maybe the lushest song ever. Pretty languid too.

Every Day Is Like Sunday by Morrissey. Dat sultry bass guitar sound. Definitely orchestral.

Now My Heart Is Full by Morrissey. Breathy sultry intro voice, orchestral, anthemy.

Yes I Am Blind - Morrissey. Never thought of it as sultry, but it's there in there in the beat.

My Love Life by Morrissey. More upbeat, but it's got that Twin Peaks languid guitar/bass/whatever sound happening and Morrissey sexiness.

The More You Ignore Me The Closer I Get by Morrissey. More upbeat, but irresistibly sexy.
posted by Askr at 7:32 PM on February 10, 2014

I have to add another Nick Cave song: Loverman.
posted by martinrebas at 7:41 PM on February 10, 2014

Sophie B Hawkins, Damn I Wish I was your Lover. Languid and upbeat at different times.
posted by Blitz at 7:50 PM on February 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

Female of the Species - Space
Avalon - Roxy Music
Sooner or Later - Madonna
posted by SisterHavana at 7:55 PM on February 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

I can't make you love me. Bonnie Raitt
posted by HuronBob at 9:34 PM on February 10, 2014

And.... thanks for the askme... this is a great playlist...
posted by HuronBob at 9:34 PM on February 10, 2014

More Gainsbourg senior: Je suis venu te dire que je m'en vais ; Bonnie and Clyde

Velvet Underground, Venus in furs ; Pale blue eyes

Roberta Flack, The first time ever I saw your face

Beck, Paper tiger ; Lonesome tears ; Jackass

Timber Timbre, Black water ; Creep on creepin on

Leonard Cohen, Everybody knows (and um his whole discography)
posted by cotton dress sock at 9:51 PM on February 10, 2014

Bit on the nose but Bob Dylan, Lay lady lay

Gordon Lightfoot, Sundown
posted by cotton dress sock at 10:00 PM on February 10, 2014

Eleni Mandell
posted by W.S (disambiguation) at 10:45 PM on February 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Coming Down by Dum Dum Girls
Islands by the XX
posted by Pronoiac at 11:01 PM on February 10, 2014

There was a similar question a few months back looking for sad Lana Del Rey-ish music.

Seeing as we're going back to the sixties, what about a complete classic: Dusty in Memphis.

Cat Power's album The Greatest is beautiful and as languid as Lana del Rey. In the same sort of vein, Joan as Policewoman. Less languid, but no less beautiful - Kathryn Williams. Little Black Numbers is simply beautiful, but she has done several good albums, including a collaboration with Neill MacColl.

If you like Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra, there was a terrific cover album called Total Lee! which is often as good as the originals. You would also like Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan's collaboration, which is a modern retake on Lee and Nancy. Kurt Wagner and Cortney Tidwell have also had a decent collaboration, Kort, which is country covers.

If you like Goldfrapp, then I'm assuming you already know about Portishead, particularly Dummy. You would probably be interested in another album with a strong Bristol influence - Martina Topley Bird's Quixotic, another languid and rather lovely album. Going back even further, Portishead's haunting style can trace some its roots to albums like The Sundays' Reading, Writing and Arithmetic.
posted by MuffinMan at 1:37 AM on February 11, 2014

kd lang - Miss Chatelaine
Hannah Georgas - Enemies
The Shortwave Set - Repeat To Fade (though it's a bit more lo-fi)
Maybe Pulp's This Is Hardcore and The Trees?

Quite a lot of Broadcast's output would fit in here too - especially Before We Begin.
posted by mippy at 8:41 AM on February 11, 2014

Try Nostalgia 77's "Sleepwalkers Society" and "A Journey Too Far" (the latter released today), which teams N77 with singer Josa Peit. Really good stuff and in a similar vein to what you're looking for.

Build a Spotify/Rdio playlist of what you've found and like when you're done? (c'mon sea legs -- willing to share yours?)
posted by laze at 9:04 AM on February 11, 2014

Best answer: Alex Clare - Damn Your Eyes (Etta James cover)
Alex Clare - Caroline
Alex Clare - Relax My Beloved

More artists later...
posted by Elysum at 1:06 PM on February 11, 2014

Best answer: Eilen Jewell- "Only One"
IMHO, great song, great singer, great band...
posted by EKStickland at 11:31 PM on February 11, 2014

Best answer: Such a cool question, cheers OP! I also love that fuzzy sexy dirty reverby sound.

Seconding "Creep On Creeping On" by Timber Timbre

Adam Green Cigarete Burns Forever
Apollo Sunshine We Are Born When We Die
BRMC Love Burns
Charlotte Gainsbourg In The End
Digital Daggers Head Over Heels
The Duke Spirit Wooden Heart
Dum Dum Girls Lord Knows
Ellie Ingram Canna Butter Kisses
Goldfrapp Lovely Head
Highest Order Lonely Weekends
Joan As Police Woman The Magic
Lotus Plaza Black Buzz
Raveonettes Forget That You're Young
posted by supercrayon at 5:37 AM on February 12, 2014

Tori Amos Cruel
(Sounds kinda dated now, but I loved it when it first came out.)
posted by whistle pig at 9:05 AM on February 12, 2014

Response by poster: Awesome awesome awesome, guys! I've compiled a Spotify list of these, and will tweak it a bit and it should be ready to share by Valentine's Day, in case any of you have criminal lovers and velvet beds.
posted by redsparkler at 10:21 AM on February 12, 2014

The Cowboy Junkies cover of "Sweet Jane".

I would recommend the whole album, Trinity Session from the Cowboy Junkies.

[Except possibly for the one song that has an annoyingly loud harmonica solo. I think it's the song, "I Don't Get It." If you download the whole album, I would consider skipping just this one track.]
posted by marsha56 at 2:44 PM on February 12, 2014

Permit me to recommend the YouTube channel La Belle Musique. Many, many female artists, many of their songs crushingly sultry.
posted by turbid dahlia at 8:44 PM on February 12, 2014

Best answer: Dirty Beaches — True Blue
posted by timshel at 2:58 PM on February 13, 2014

Zero 7: "Destiny"
posted by rewil at 7:39 AM on February 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Heard this this morning and was reminded of your question: The XX - Infinity
posted by lovableiago at 8:34 AM on February 14, 2014

Response by poster: Okay, here's our playlist: Some Velvet Evening.

A few tracks are missing since they're not available on Spotify. In particular, The Czars have a cover of Where the Boys Are that would be pretty perfect.
posted by redsparkler at 11:11 AM on February 14, 2014

Best answer: I don't care that there's 70 other posts ahead of this, this song is still the one you meant when you made it:

I Don't Know,, Ruth Brown

(Very close and also excellent:
Whatever Lola Wants, Sarah Vaughn
Sugar In My Bowl, Nina Simone. Be careful with Sugar on Spotify, there's about a hundred versions of it, some jazzier than others.)
posted by Diablevert at 1:07 PM on February 14, 2014

Best answer: And I'm gonna add Lucinda, who must be represented with the wonderful Fruits of my Labor.
posted by thinkpiece at 7:10 AM on February 15, 2014

Another one from Space: Bastard Me, Bastard You. From their Avenging Angels single release.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 4:39 PM on February 19, 2014

(Whoops - apologies, I posted that last comment in the wrong thread!)
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 7:34 AM on February 20, 2014

Madeleine Peyroux's cover of Elliott Smith's Between the Bars. I think someone recommended it here ages ago. I can not recommend this enough.

Also, for what it's worth, I prefer this cover of Wicked Game (full disclosure, a version of this cover was used in a short film I wrote). It's more haunted than the original, and so beautiful.

Portishead and much of Zero 7 will fit this. A lot of Beach House will too.
posted by rock'em sock'em puppets at 4:32 PM on March 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

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