Did Every Woman In 1990s Alt-Rock Want To Have Sex With An Angel?

All my years of research have led to one inescapable conclusion.

Jude Ellison S. Doyle
5 min readAug 3, 2023

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“The Ecstasy of St. Teresa,” by Bernini, depicting a moment in which, as Teresa wrote: “In his hands, I saw a great golden spear, and at the iron tip there appeared to be a point of fire. This he plunged into my heart several times so that it penetrated to my entrails... The pain was so severe that it made me utter several moans. The sweetness caused by this intense pain is so extreme that one cannot possibly wish it to cease[.]”
The arrow is a metaphor for the power of prayer. Photo by Silvaner on Shutterstock.

These are the long days at the end of summer. The world slows down. The mind wanders. One is free to ask the questions that really matter. For instance: Did every single female vocalist in 1990s alt-rock and/or adult contemporary want to have sexual congress with an angel of the Lord?

The answer is that they did. I’ve examined the catalog for years now, and the evidence overwhelmingly supports my claim.

First, we need to define our parameters. For instance, men also sing about angels, and some of them did it during the 1990s. However, The Heights’ “How Do You Talk to an Angel,” which is about sex with an angel, is not alt-rock; Live’s “Lightning Crashes” is alt-rock, but no-one fucks the angel. (See video for proof.) Massive Attack’s “Angel” was released in 1998, it’s trip-hop and thus connected to the “alternative” zeitgeist, and the angel fucks, but it’s sung by a man. The vocal is honestly kind of androgynous, though, so let’s throw it in.

Back to my strict and inflexible standards: It’s also true that “angel” is a common term of endearment. That is, not every song about sex with an angel is about literal angels. This calls into question some of the songs on our list. When PJ Harvey sings “say, angel, come lick my face,” couldn’t she be speaking figuratively?

No. She could not be. First of all, PJ Harvey is constantly singing about sex with supernatural entities — she hooks up with both God and the Devil on To Bring You My Love alone — and secondly, the ’90s just had a thing for angels, an inexplicable and deeply sexual thing which we as a culture have never fully reckoned with until now.

Any utterance of the word “angel” in a 1990s pop song takes place in the context of the popular TV drama Touched by an Angel (1994–2003; the touching wasn’t sexual) or Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s boyfriend, Angel (1997–2004; the…

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Jude Ellison S. Doyle

Author of “Trainwreck” (Melville House, ‘16) and “Dead Blondes and Bad Mothers” (Melville House, ‘19). Columns published far and wide across the Internet.