30 of the Thirstiest Songs Ever

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Though “thirst”/“thirsty” are relatively new additions to the cultural lexicon, this state of borderline desperation has proven to be a fitting match for the hedonism of popular music for as long as popular music has existed. A touch of sexual and/or romantic thirst almost feels like a requirement in pop lyrics, but over time musicians’ thirst has grown more overt — and expanded to encompass different types of desire.

Let’s not forget about the thirst for drugs or fame itself, both of which have inspired indelible songs ranging from the Rolling Stones’ “Sister Morphine” to the Counting Crows’ “Mr. Jones” to Kendrick Lamar’s “Backseat Freestyle.” We delve into all categories of thirst — sex, love, drugs, and game — in our list of 30 of the thirstiest songs ever.

Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers —Chinese Rocks”

Opening lyrics don’t get much blunter than this: “Somebody called me on the phone/ And said, ‘Hey, is Dee Dee home?/ Do you wanna talk a walk?/ You wanna go and cop?/ You wanna go get some Chinese rocks?'” Thunders — and the song’s author, the aforementioned Dee Dee Ramone — aren’t talking about collecting minerals. Apparently this classic punk song was written in an attempt to best the Velvet Underground’s “Heroin.” And if it didn’t exactly rival Lou Reed’s song as poetry, it certainly matched his thirst for a fix. — Judy Berman

The Smiths — “How Soon Is Now?”

No one does loneliness thirst like Morrissey: “I am human and I need to be loved, just like everybody else does,” he declares in the chorus of The Smiths’ iconic 1985 hit. Atop an indelible riff from Johnny Marr, Moz describes what it’s like to be painfully shy yet so ready to find love in a hopeless place, he hits up the club. As Moz learns, that’s always a mistake when you’re looking for something real. — Jillian Mapes

Harry Nilsson — “Without You”

Though Badfinger made “Without You” famous in 1970, Harry Nilsson’s cover the following year for classic album Nilsson Schmilsson remains the song’s most immortal version, even compared to Mariah Carey’s 1994 recording. Where Badfinger shows restraint in their midtempo rock original, Nilsson throws himself into the soaring ballad with the abandon of someone whose whole world is walking away for good. —JM

Counting Crows — “Mr. Jones”

Not, sadly, about Adam Duritz’s dick, despite the long-standing rumors — instead, it’s exactly what it appears to be on face value, i.e. our implausibly dreadlocked singer sitting with a friend in a bar and moaning about the fact that neither of them were famous yet. For Duritz, at least, things would work out for the best, although anyone who’s heard Counting Crows’ risible cover of “Big Yellow Taxi” might beg to differ. — Tom Hawking

Color Me Badd “I Wanna Sex You Up”

The title really says it all, but in case you weren’t totally sold on this 1991 New Jack Swing hit, consider this rule of thumb: anyone who promises to disconnect the phone during the nasty, long before said nasty takes place, is Thirsty. —JM

Oasis — “Rock N Roll Star”

Before the Gallagher brothers were a sort of rock ‘n’ roll reality sideshow, they were superstars — and before <em>that</em>, they were a bunch of bored kids from Manchester, longing for fame as an escape from a humdrum existence. In that respect, this functions as a statement of intent — it’s the first song from their debut album, and it finds Liam Gallagher declaring that “In my mind my dreams are real… Tonight, I’m a rock ‘n’ roll star.” — TH

The Temptations — “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg”

Begging is the thirstiest act there is, and the Temps’ 1966 Motown hit is the absolute classiest way to communicate those pleas. This is how you say, “I’m not taking no for an answer,” without seeming completely stalkerish. — JM

Guns N’ Roses — “Mr Brownstone”

Axl, Izzy and co. arrived in Los Angeles from Indiana with a fire in their belly and an appetite for fame, women and — most importantly — drugs. The problem is, as Axl observes here, the latter can be a slippery slope: “I used to do a little/ But a little wouldn’t do it/ So the little got more and more.” Careful of that shit, kids. — TH

Ying Yang Twins — “Wait (The Whisper Song)”

“Wait (The Whisper Song)” represents an entitled sexual thirst that it’s easy to find pathetic, but there’s also an element of mystery that makes this song oddly memorable. —JM

Bonnie Tyler — “Total Eclipse of the Heart”

Nothing says “I want you back” quite like Tyler’s 1983 pop-rock odyssey. When Tyler belts, “Forever’s gonna start tonight,” I’m always reminded me of the ending of When Harry Met Sally, when Harry says, “When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.” Except Tyler’s thirst is so intense, it inspired in her a mirage of love. —JM

Lady Gaga — “Dope”

“Dope” is the song where drug thirst and sex thirst come together in service of total love thirst. “I need you more than dope,” Gaga screams while pounding on the piano. —JM

Travie McCoy feat. Bruno Mars —Billionaire

It does not get thirstier than declaring, “I wanna be a billionaire so fucking bad,” then listing all the things you expect to accompany said fortune and fame. This historically insufferable thirst ended up being some kind of self-fulfilling prophecy to McCoy and Mars, who hit No. 4 in 2010 with this hit. —JM

Salt-N-Pepa — “Shoop”

“Shoop” is thirsty in the same way that women gossiping about men with big packages and cute butts is thirsty. In the ’90s, that seemed scandalous, but now, thanks in part to “Shoop,” women are free to lust publicly for their men. —JM

Spacemen 3 — “Come Down Easy”

As befits a band who once released a (great) album called Taking Drugs to Make Music to Take Drugs To, Spacemen 3 weren’t exactly shy about their fondness for narcotics. It’s really a case of pick-your-Spacemen-3 track here, but this contains their most unabashed declaration of fondness for heroin: “In 1987/ All I want to do is get stoned/ All I want for you to do/ Is take my body home.” — TH

Kendrick Lamar — “Backseat Freestyle”

In which Young Kendrick — the brash, mouthy kid who lives out good kid, m.A.A.d city‘s coming-of-age narrative — sets out his get-rich-or-die-trying ambitions for the future: “All my life I want money and power/ Respect my mind, or die from lead shower.” His desire to escape Compton remains undiminished as the album progresses, but his thirst for fame is soon replaced by a simple thirst for life. — TH

Hole — “Doll Parts”

While rock and rap dudes are free to boast as frequently and loudly as they want, female ambition remains vexingly controversial. So perhaps it’s not surprising that Courtney Love’s statement of purpose in Doll Parts — “I want to be the girl with the most cake” — was arresting enough to follow her around forever after. She wasn’t afraid to be a thirsty woman in public, and (depressingly enough) she’s still paying the price for it. —JB

The Rolling Stones — “Sister Morphine”

The dark side of thirst, i.e. when that thirst becomes unquenchable and develops into full-blown addiction. The Rolling Stones’ version is discomfiting enough, but Marianne Faithfull’s version is superior and somehow realer, something that made a whole lot more sense when she was finally given her proper credit as the song’s co-writer after a long legal battle. — TH

Moldy Peaches — “Who’s Got the Crack?”

There’s an argument to be made that the original version of this song, at least, is more absurdist than thirsty, given its origins in the bedroom of East Village antifolk weirdos Moldy Peaches. The Libertines’ cover, though? Definitely thirsty. — TH

David Bowie — “Queen Bitch”

There are a few levels of thirst going on in this track, a highlight from Hunky Dory. Of course, there’s our narrator’s toxic thirst to occupy a different role in the deeply queer love triangle he describes — “Oh, I could do better than THAT!” And on a meta level, there’s pre-fame Bowie’s own thirst to (basically) become Lou Reed, in a song which takes both its musical and lyrical inspiration from the Velvet Underground. — JB

2 Live Crew — “Me So Horny”

I mean, it’s all in the title, right? — TH

Buzzcocks — “Orgasm Addict”

If the title didn’t give it away, this is about wanking. A lot. Every spare minute, in fact. It’s a pretty fine evocation of the teen male thirstiness for sex — any sort of sex, or even just a girl to look at you, or something, please, god, please — and also of the disappointing truth that this sort of priapic yearning is so palpable that girls can sense it on you, pretty much ensuring that they’ll stay far, far away. — TH

The Byrds — “So You Want To Be A Rock ‘n’ Roll Star”

The Byrds responded to the overnight (manufactured) success of The Monkees in 1967 with “So You Want to Ne a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star.” While the Top 40 single may seem more like a satire of thirst than a declaration, the act of critiquing the famous is inadvertently thirsty for fame in its cynicism of those who have achieved it. (Also, a satire of thirst still stands as a chronicle of thirst.) —JM

Cheap Trick — “I Want You to Want Me”

The fellas of Cheap Trick are not content to merely thirst for another. No, they thirst for your thirst, as a means of quenching their initial thirst. The power dynamics of the group’s 1977 single are complicated to say the least, but the sugar rush of “I Want You to Want Me” is enough to make you at least consider the band’s request. —JM

Queen — “Somebody to Love”

What makes “Somebody to Love” particularly thirsty is how vague it is, despite its over-the-top qualities. On this 1976 hit, Freddie Mercury isn’t lusting for anyone specifically, but rather, screaming out into the abyss for someone to love. Sadly, that’s a thirst many of us have felt from time to time. —JM

The Shamen — “Ebeneezer Goode”

A great philosopher once wrote: naughty, naughty, very naughty. We still can’t quite believe they got away with this. — TH

Bros — “When Will I Be Famous”

The answer was: soon enough, although sadly the Goss brothers’ fame would prove relatively short-lived. These days, Luke is an actor (last seen in something called Death Race 3: Inferno), while Matt is doing the bow-tie-and-rat-pack-chic thing at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. — TH

Divinyls — “I Touch Myself”

The Divynls’ 1990 hit confidently lusts for sex by declaring, right out of the gate, “I love myself, I want you to love me.” There’s an effortless quality to the pop that sits alongside this self-assured thirsting that’s definitely appealing, too. — JM

Tears for Fears — “Everybody Wants to Rule the World”

The thing I’ve always loved about “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” is its self-implication in the sort of capitalistic thirst many Americans innately feel. The singer feels conflicted about this yet still makes a plea for someone to help him “make the most of freedom and of pleasure.” — JM

Sophie B. Hawkins — “Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover”

From Avril Lavigne to the Pussycat Dolls, others have said it more explicitly since, but Sophie B. Hawkins said it the most soulfully: damn, I wish I was your lover. Hawkins’ 1992 pop-rock hit thirsts plenty for sex, but it also wants the whole shebang, like walking on the beach hand in hand. Prince feels the same way. Damn indeed. — JM

Rick Astley — “Never Gonna Give You Up”

Gotcha! But also, this is severely thirsty coming from a guy who ostensibly already got the girl. — JM