Grading each Fifty Shades Darker song's kink factor
On a scale of one to five handcuffs
As Fifty Shades Darker saunters into theaters, it brings with it another star-studded soundtrack—with some very big stilettos to fill. Before the soundtrack comes out on Feb. 10, we graded each song’s kink factor on a scale of one to five handcuffs:
1. Zayn & Taylor Swift, “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever (Fifty Shades Darker)”
Swift is used to sharing the stage, not getting upstaged. But her breathy coos are no match for Zayn’s fabulous falsetto on this throbbing electro-R&B duet.
2. Halsey, “Not Afraid Anymore”
Which is scarier: the sexy haunted-house vibes of this industrial-pop sizzler, or the fact that a song this good was co-written by the “Rude” dude from MAGIC!?
3. JRY feat. Rooty, “Pray”
There’s no reason you’d know these artists on the rise, and this brooding midtempo snoozefest doesn’t give you much of a reason to remember them, either.
4. Tove Lo, “Lies in the Dark”
With steamy lyrics about how “love and pain go hand in hand,” Tove Lo—who co-wrote Ellie Goulding’s “Love Me Like You Do” from the first film—proves that few artists are better suited for this franchise than Sweden’s resident bad girl.
5. Toulouse, “No Running from Me”
It takes supreme suaveness to tell someone there’s no escaping your love while sounding only a teensy bit creepy, but up-and-comer Toulouse pulls it off on this bluesy bop.
6. John Legend, “One Woman Man”
“From the moment that I tasted, I knew that I would have to chase it,” Legend sings on this soulful ode to (surprise!) settling down. It makes monogamy sound as edgy as anything that goes on in Christian Grey’s Red Room.
7. The-Dream, “Code Blue”
Even cringeworthy lines like “The closer I get to you, the more I feel like crying” can’t derail this dreamy alt-R&B number, whose mixture of hip-hop beats and fancy guitar work recalls Miguel at his most, er, stimulating.
8. Nick Jonas & Nicki Minaj, “Bom Bidi Bom”
While Jonas makes up phrases like bom bidi bom to describe his partner’s sex appeal, Minaj is at no such loss for words: “I’m about to blow, and I ain’t talking Samsung.” That’s about the only line of hers we can publish here.
9. Sia, “Helium”
The “Titanium” singer continues to work her way through the periodic table with this piano ballad about finding the Superman to her Superwoman. It’s one of the LP’s better cuts—but it doesn’t exactly scream tortured love affair.
10. Kygo feat. Andrew Jackson, “Cruise”
Take your mind off Christian and Anastasia’s car-wreck romance with this dancey joyride courtesy of the tropical-house poster boy.
11. Corinne Bailey Rae, “The Scientist”
If you thought this tender Coldplay ballad couldn’t get any sadder, be warned: Bailey Rae’s strings-heavy cover is downright depressing—and will have you wondering if you hit play on the wrong soundtrack.
12. José James, “They Can’t Take That Away From Me”
The Gershwin brothers might be rolling in their graves at the inclusion of their 1937 classic here, but James’ cover is, thankfully, straightforward—and still a little sensual.
13. JP Cooper, “Birthday”
Don’t let the title fool you: There are no birthday suits on display in this slow jam, just a birthday cake, some candles, and a wish to find true love. It’s sweet—but totally vanilla.
14. The Avener feat. Mark Asari, “I Need a Good One”
British singer Asari says he’s on the lookout for a “freak undercover,” but the funky bass lines of French producer the Avener will send you to the dance floor, not under the covers.
15. Joseph Angel, “Empty Pack of Cigarettes”
What’s more fiery than Angel’s climactic guitar solo? Try his lover’s temper: “You can curse me out, baby, and put your hand around my neck,” he sings on this soul-rock scorcher. Hey, some people are into that sort of thing.
16. Anderson East, “What Would It Take”
The only heart-pumping, skin-to-skin physical activity that occurs in this song is dancing—but East’s smoky Southern brand of R&B will still put a quiver in your knees.
17. Frances, “What Is Love?”
The bad news: It’s not a Haddaway cover. The good news: The English singer’s delicate voice is the perfect palate cleanser after all that raunch and innuendo.
18-19. Danny Elfman, “On His Knees” & “Making It Real”
These orchestral tracks have little in the way of erotic content—unless those seductive strings inspire you to film your own Fifty Shades at home.
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