Sunday, 25 October 2015

Opposites playlist+

The party invitation
Part of the reason for starting this blog is that I've promised many people that I'd share the playlist from my recent birthday party, where the theme was (can you guess?) Opposites. This was the second opposites-themed party I've had. The first was nearly 25 years ago when I passed my preliminary examination for my doctorate--which was also opposite-themed. The compilation tapes from that party were lost sometime after I stopped owning a cassette player. The first time round, I was more of a purist: only songs with the opposites in the title were counted. This time, I was more interested in having more recognizable and (later in the evening) danceable songs, so I allowed songs by artists with opposite-containing names or songs in which opposites were a big part of the chorus (though not in the title). There are also some pairs that make an opposite if they're played one after the other.

So here, for what passes on the internet for posterity, is this year's playlist.  (Many thanks to many FB friends for suggestions and to Phil for downloading/uploading all the songs.)  I've copied this table from an MS-Word file and some formatting has gone wonky. But I am determined that this blog is not going to be TOO much of a timesuck, so we'll live with it.

What we actually played:

song [further explanation]
  Opposites Day 
  Lloyd Cole
Hello, Goodbye
The Beatles
Let's Call The Whole Thing Off
[tomayto-tomahto, etc.]
Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong
The Lady Is a Tramp
Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga
Night And Day
Black Night White Light
Frankie Goes To Hollywood
All Or Nothing
The Small Faces
Walk, Don't Run
A Hard Day's Night
The Beatles
Sheep Go to Heaven (Goats Go to Hell)
Sound And Vision
David Bowie
Love And Anger
[this was cheating a bit, but I like it]
Kate Bush
Knowing Me, Knowing You
You're the First, the Last, My Everything
Barry White
Female of the Species
[is more deadly than the male]
Video Killed the Radio Star
The Buggles
Istanbul not Constantinople
They Might be Giants
Step It Up ['to the left, to the right...']
Stereo MC's
Save it For Later [‘Sooner or later...’]
The [English] Beat
Cruel To Be Kind
Nick Lowe
Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa (Sad Song)
Otis Redding
Pharrell Williams
Head Over Heels
The Go-Go's
Heaven Is a Place On Earth
Belinda Carlisle
Opposites Attract
Paula Abdul
I Started Something I Couldn't Finish
The Smiths
Slap And Tickle
Right And Wrong
Joe Jackson
Should I Stay or Should I Go
The Clash
You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)
Dead or Alive
Hey Boy Hey Girl
The Chemical Brothers
Rise [‘I could be right I could be wrong…’]
Public Image Ltd.
Girls & Boys
Push It
West End Girls [‘East End Boys and…’]
Pet Shop Boys
Praise You
Fatboy Slim
River Deep Mountain High
Ike & Tina Turner
Live and Let Die
Paul McCartney
Good Lovin'
The Rascals
Bad Romance
Lady Gaga
The Cure
This Is Not A Love Song
Public Image Ltd.
Master and Servant
Depeche Mode
Love to Hate You
Upside Down
Diana Ross
Black Or White
Michael Jackson
Penthouse and Pavement
Heaven 17
Bitter Sweet Symphony
The Verve
Short Skirt/Long Jacket
Somebody Told Me [that you had a boyfriend, who looked like a girlfriend…]
The Killers
One Way or Another
   [I get knocked down

    but I get up again]
As Above So Below
Tom Tom Club
Earth, Wind & Fire
Don't Stop the Music 
   [samples Michael Jackson’s Wanna
    Be Startin’ Something’]
Hot 'n Cold
Basement Jaxx
Birds Fly (Whisper to a Scream)
The Icicle Works
Stand Or Fall
The Fixx
Hot N Cold
Katy Perry
Big When I Was Little
Eliza Doolittle
All Day And All Of The Night
The Kinks
The Sun and the Rain
With or Without You
Say Hello, Wave Goodbye
Soft Cell

But there were lots more that came to mind or were suggested that we didn't like well enough to put on the playlist (often because we felt we had too many 'slow' songs).  And then there were a few that I had put on the list that I just discovered aren't here because apparently Phil vetoed them. I am shocked and hurt, I am. Ok, it's more than a few:

Forever Live and DieOrchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark
Move your feetJunior Senior
Friend or FoeAdam Ant
Take It or Leave ItThe Strokes
Up for the Down StrokeParliament
Needles and PinsVentures (or Ramones)
Licht und Blindheit [Atmosphere] Joy Division
Gotta get up to get downMarmalade
The night we called it a dayFrank Sinatra
Up and Down The Mr T Experience (orig. Sesame Street)
Girl from Ipanema goes to GreenlandThe B52s
Now and ThenThe Proclaimers
Boys & GirlsPixie Lott
Man Smart, Woman SmarterHarry Belafonte
Forever NowPsychedelic Furs
Flesh & BloodRoxy Music
Both Ends BurningRoxy Music
Love & HateMarcus Collins
Stuck in the Middle with You ['clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right']Stealers Wheel
Karma Chameleon ['you come & go']Culture Club
Say you, Say meLionel Ritchie
Black and White UniteBelle & Sebastian
Woman make manM
Not a sinner nor a saintAlcatraz
Hunting high and lowA-ha
Up and DownVengaboys
Now and ThenSuzanna Hoffs
Body and SoulTony Bennett & Amy Winehouse
Black and WhiteThree Dog Night
Sugar and SpiceThe Searchers

Leather and Lace
Don Henley & Stevie Nicks
Ain't no mountain high enough [ain't no valley low enough]Diana Ross
Yes or NoThe Gogo's
Spirits in the Material WorldThe Police
First and Last and AlwaysSisters of Mercy
Don't it make my brown eyes blueCrystal Gayle
Alone togetherThe Strokes
Colourless ColourLa Roux
Bicycle Race ['you say black, I say white...]
Back and ForthAaliyah
Ebony and IvoryPaul McCartney & Stevie Wonder
Wanted Dead or AliveBon Jovi
Same old brand new youA1
Pushing forward backTemple of the Dog
Man I feel like a womanShania Twain
The winner losesBodycount
The Hokey Cokey (or Hokey Pokey)[right/left]
Downside UpPeter Gabriel
Geisha Boys and Temple GirlsHeaven 17
Back and ForthCameo
The Hunter gets captured by the GameThe Marvelettes
Good times, bad timesLed Zeppelin
Both sides nowJoni Mitchell
Hate this and I'll love youMuse
White boy, black girlINXS
You and me songWannadies
Let's stay together [good/bad, happy/sad]Al Green
Rise and fallCraig David
Head to ToeLisa Lisa & Cult Jam
The Fire and the FloodVance Joy
True/False Fake/RealHercules and Love Affair

I can't include links to all of them, but I do love this:

Which is a cover of this:

You might be able to guess what age I turned from this selection. If your fave opposite song(s) is/are missing, please add them in the comments--they might make the list for the next party!


  1. It’s my party [and I’ll cry if I want to], by Lesley Gore?

  2. It's not a party song (though a good friend did just do a father-daughter dance to it at her wedding), but: Sunrise, Sunset!

  3. Istanbul and Constantinople are not antonyms - they're (almost perfect) synonyms!
    When a style guide juxtaposes a deprecated term with it's preferred replacement, that doesn't affect the semantics of the words, just the connotations.

  4. GRRR. I have just replied to this twice without the reply appearing. Test test test.

  5. OK, trying again then.

    On my approach to lexical relations (and I would say most modern linguistic approaches), oppositeness/antonymy is not simply a matter of referential semantics. On my account (Semantic Relations and the Lexicon, Cambridge UP, 2003), it is a pragmatic and metalexical relation in which two expressions are opposite if they share all *relevant* properties but one. Relevance can only be judged in context, and some contexts force a construal of opposition, as is the case for 'X, not Y' found in the song title.

    In this case, 'Istanbul' and 'Constantinople' share all relevant properties (with reference being a stand-out relevant property) but one (which the song makes a big deal of): historical period. Hence, contextually they are opposed.

    1. As the earlier historical name of the city was Byzantium I must disagree that these are opposites. I quote from another of your posts which makes it clear that there can be no more than 2 opposites in the same context: ”And that's the thing about opposites: no matter how many potential opposites an expression might have, in any particular context, it is allowed only one opposite. You can look for a synonym of a word, but it's the opposite.”

  6. (A similar case above is 'Walk, Don't Run'--in which the 'X, (do) not Y' frame is used as well. 'Run' is only the opposite of 'walk' in a context in which what's relevant is the speed of movement. In another context, the fact of movement could be what's relevant, and then you might have a song that's 'Walk, Don't Stand'.)

    1. or mode/carbon impact of movement: walk, don't drive

  7. Not only does this idea for a party sound really fun, but I LOVE your playlist!

    1. Thanks! You can come to the next one. I think that's when I'm 100.

  8. (Reply button not working) I am not a lexicologist but with reference to comment above about Istanbul and Constantinople Iam curious as to whether you can you have 3 or more opposites as the original historic name for the city was Byzantium (I'm sure you must know this).

    1. You can have a contrast set (also called co-hyponyms) of three things (or more). That's what we'd call things like 'solid-liquid-gas' or 'animal-vegetable-mineral'. But in particular contexts, two can be picked out to act like opposites.

      A lot of things that are more traditionally considered opposites are like this--they're really parts of contrast sets, but we treat them as if they're a pair. For example, 'sad' is often considered to be the opposite of 'happy', though there are other negative emotions, and 'sweet' might be the opposite of any of the other tastes, depending on the context (sweet/sour, sweet/bitter, sweet/salty).