A number of reviewers have queried what "sex is on fire" means, with many opting for burning venereal disease. Lead vocalist Caleb Followill joked on his record label's website that "there's always been an element of sex in our music, so I thought I'd just wrap it all up in one song and be done with the sex for the rest of the record." When The Sun newspaper September 19, 2008 asked Followill what exactly this song is about, the singer replied: "It's about a great sexual relationship with hot, hot sex that you remember for ever."
Nathan told Robbie, Marieke and The Doctor of the Australian radio station Triple J that the song's lyrical content was originally just intended to be filler. He explained: "They were just kind of dummy lyrics. Depending on whether a song starts with a melody or starts with lyrics, you know if it starts with a melody you just keep playing the melody over and over until you get it down and just throw in any lyrics that fit the verbal flow. Sex On Fire was just kind of a little lyric just to fill in to kill some time until we could actually write something that wasn't about sex and fire."
The video was directed by Sophie Muller, whose credits include "Smile" by Lily Allen and "Grace Kelly" by Mika. Caleb told MTV News: "I'm seeing things that are not really going on, and I'm seeing them do wacky things. And the things that I'm seeing make it look like I'm a pervert and I'm attracted to my family." His bassist brother Jared added: "If we didn't have so much trust in Sophie's previous work, we never would have picked up a treatment that has Caleb getting crazy on a bed and me chasing a chicken."
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