Sequences in songs

Updated: Mar 8

References to heat, cold, fluidity, solidness, disorder, order, dynamism, stasis, brightness, darkness, and other qualities are common in song titles and lyrics. Billboard's "The Biggest Hits of All: The Hot 100's All-Time Top 100 Songs" calls Chubby Checker's "The Twist" from 1960 the number one all-time song. Given the disorder we associate with twisting, the song should be expected to contain a quality from the less exciting category. Chubby provides this, arguably, in the form of a static, sleeping parent, a solid house, the downwardness of the house after all the "twisty, twisty, twisty" going on tears it to the ground, and there's an element of excitement in a container. The number two all-time hit listed is "Smooth" by Santana featuring Rob Thomas. The lyrics make reference to heat, the sun, everyone melting, stasis and coolness, lifting and upwardness, and fluidity in crying and breath. Aesthetic mixtures include the singularity of heat in the first line, everyone melting in line three versus "staying so cool" in the next line, upward roundness and downward fluidity in the ocean under the moon (which the author says invokes the same emotion he gets from the subject of the song) also dynamic—round and dynamic—static in "You feel the turning of the world, so soft and slow / It's turning round and round."

Number three is Bobby Darin's "Mack the Knife." The song references "pearly white" (bright—solid) shark teeth, out—in "out of sight" in the fourth line versus being bitten by a shark in the fifth line, bright—fluid—dynamic—out in "scarlet billows start to spread" versus the inwardness of gloves and oldness in the next line, the solidness of a sidewalk versus the brightness of a sunny morning, fluidity versus stasis in the image of a body "oozin' life, downwardness and a river (down—fluid), and outwardness versus oldness and backwardness in "look out, old Macky's back."

"Uptown Funk" by Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars is the fourth biggest hit in the list. The song's title is a three part sequence with a solid (a town) surrounded by upwardness and disorder (funk). In the lyrics "Ice cold" (solid—cold) contrasts with "bright gold," which contrasts with the inwardness of a hood, the order in "straight" contrasts with multiplicity in "masterpiece;" "livin' it up" is opposite to the solidness of the city (dynamic—up—solid), and elsewhere there are mixtures between disorder and down, fluidity and inwardness, and several more subtle juxtapositions such as "smoother than a fresh jar of Skippy" (fluid—new—in—dynamic).

The sixth song in the list is "Party Rock Anthem" by LMFAO, a group made up of members going by the names RedFoo and SkyBlu (fluid—dark). The lyrics contain the mixtures dynamic—round: "Non stop when we in the spot," dynamic—solid: "I'm rock and roll," bright—dark "Half-black, half-white, domino," dynamic—in—fluid: "I'm running through these hoes like Drano," hot—fluid—solid—dynamic—bright—disorder—solid: "I got the devilish flow rock and roll no halo, we party rock!" up—solid: "On the rise to the top, no lead in our zeppelin," fluid—in: "Please fill my cup (don't mess around)," and excitement in a container in the form of a party in a house. It's notable that three of the songs in the top six have a theme of house disruption, and that the same phrase: "fill my cup" occurs in "Uptown Funk," "Party Rock Anthem" and again, three times, as "fill up my cup" in the next song in the list: "I Gotta Feeling" by the Black Eyed Peas. Number nine is "Shape of You" by Ed Sheeran, which has an example of fluid—in—dynamic—static: "Drinking fast and then we talk slow, and in—out: "We push and pull like a magnet do." Darkness and light are opposed throughout Debby Boone's "You Light up My Life.," number eleven. Most of the other songs in the list contain examples as well. Most songs contain examples generally.

Pink Floyd titles

Out of 136 Pink Floyd song titles 46 (~33%) contain references to one or more of the hypothetically exciting or unexciting qualities hot, fluid, disorder, bright, dynamic, up, out, cold, solid, order, dark, static, down or in, assuming synonymy between the qualities and various references in the titles. All the qualities are represented in some form. High temperatures occur in “Burning Bridges” (hotsolid), “Run Like Hell (dynamichot), “Summer '68,” and “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun” (upinhot). Fluidity is evident, one way or another in the titles “A Pillow Of Winds,” “Breathe,” “Crying Song,” “Flaming,” “Goodbye Blue Sky” (bluefluid), “Seabirds” (fluid), “The Thin Ice” (thinsolid/cold), and “The Nile Song," disorder in “Brain Damage,” “Get Your Filthy Hands Off My Desert,” “Shine on You Crazy Diamond” (brightdisorderorder), “The Dogs Of War,” “The Post War Dream,” “When The Tigers Broke Free,” “Careful With That Axe, Eugene.” Brightness stands out in the titles “Fat Old Sun,” “Golden Hair,” “Let There Be More Light,” “Two Suns in the Sunset” (brightbright) and “Cirrus Minor,” speed in “On The Run” and “Interstellar Overdrive” (speedup), upwardness in “High Hopes,” “Pigs On The Wing,” “Point Me At The Sky,” “Learning To Fly,” “See Saw” (updown) and “The Great Gig In The Sky,” outwardness in “Outside The Wall” (outsolid) and “Is There Anybody Out There?,” coldness in “Terminal Frost,” solidness in “Another Brick In The Wall” (solidsolid), “A New Machine,” “The Gunner's Dream,” “Welcome To The Machine,” order in “Paint Box” (fluidorder), darkness in “Eclipse,” and “Jug-band Blues,” stillness in “Stay” and “Stop,” and inwardness in “The Gold It's In The...” (solidin) and and “Wearing the Inside Out” (inout).

About 14 Pink Floyd song titles sampled contain sequences of references to thermal qualities. Most (8) of these (“Burning Bridges,” “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun,” “Goodbye Blue Sky,” “Shine on You Crazy Diamond,” “Wearing the Inside Out,” “See Saw,” “Outside the Wall,” “Paint Box” ) involve mixtures of qualities across more and less exciting thermal categories, of which 6 (~75%) are imperceivable.

Pink Floyd lyrics

In Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” about half of the lines contain references to thermal qualities: “So, so you think you can tell / Heaven from hell? (uphot) / Blue skies from pain? (bluefluid) / Can you tell a green field / From a cold steel rail (coldsolid)? / A smile from a veil? / Do you think you can tell? / Did they get you to trade / Your heroes for ghosts? (fluidity) / Hot ashes for trees? (hothotsolid) / Hot air for a cool breeze? (hotfluidcoldfluid) / Cold comfort for change? (colddynamic) / Did you exchange / A walk on part in the war (chaos) / For a lead role in a cage? (insolid) / How I wish, how I wish you were here / We're just two lost souls / Swimming in a fish bowl (fluidsolid) / Year after year / Running over the same old ground (dynamicsolid) / What have we found? / The same old fears / Wish you were here.”

Of 23 thermal quality references throughout the song 21 occur in sequences with other qualities and 2 occur alone (fluidity and chaos). Among the 9 sequences there are 2 (cold—solid and in—solid) made exclusively of things from the less exciting thermal category, 1 (up—hot) is made of qualities from the category of more exciting things and 6 sequences mix qualities in a thermoaesthetic fashion. In terms of lyric lines, 9 (~39%) out of 23 contain quality sequences and 6 (~26%) contain thermoaesthetic mixtures. Here 5 (~83%) of the mixtures are of the imperceptible kind.

Grateful Dead titles

Grateful Dead song titles referencing a single quality: “Big River” (fluid), “Weather Report Suite” (fluid), “Crazy Fingers” (disorder), “Stagger Lee” (disorder), “Ripple” (disorder), “Good Morning, Little School Girl” (bright), “Just A Little Light” (bright), “Till The Morning Comes” (bright), “Turn On Your Love Light” (bright), “New Speedway Boogie” (dynamic), “Attics Of My Life” (up), “Sittin' On Top Of The World” (up), “High Time” (up), “Wake Up Little Susie” (up), “100,000 Tons Of Steel” (solid), “The Golden Road: to Unlimited Devotion” (solid), ”Hard To Handle” (solid), “Mountains Of The Moon” (solid), “Promised Land” (solid), “And We Bid You Goodnight” (dark), “One More Saturday Night” (dark).

Grateful Dead song titles with references to qualities in thermoaesthetic sequences: “Hell In A Bucket” (hotin), “Fire On The Mountain” (fluidsolid), “Cold Rain And Snow” (fluidcold), “Brokedown Palace” (disordersolid), “Shakedown Street” (disordersolid), “Unbroken Chain” (disordersolid), “Stella Blue” (brightdark), “Touch Of Grey” (brightdark), “The Music Never Stopped” (dynamicstatic), “Mississippi Half—step Uptown Toodeloo” (upsolid), “It's All Over Now Baby Blue” (updark), “That's It For The Other One Iv: We Leave The Castle” (outsolid), “Black Muddy River” (darkfluid), “Not Fade Away” (darkout), “Let Me Sing Your Blues Away” (blueout), “Box of Rain” (orderfluid), “Dark Star” (darkbright), “Here Comes Sunshine” (inbright), “Smokestack Lightnin’” (fluidsolidbright), “New Minglewood Blues” (disordersoliddark), “All New Minglewood Blues” (disordersolidblue), “Black—throated Wind” (darkinfluid).

Grateful Dead song titles with references to qualities in the same thermal category: “Goin' Down The Road Feeling Bad” (downsolid), “That's It For The Other One I: Cryptical Envelopment” (inin), “Cream Puff War” (fluidoutdisorder), “Ramble On Rose” (disorderbright), “Morning Dew” (brightfluid), “China Cat Sunflower” (brightflow), “Scarlet Begonias” (brightflower), “Sunrise” (brightup), “Big Railroad Blues” (solidblue), “Dupree's Diamond Blues” (solidblue), “Dark Hollow” (darkin), “Beat It On Down The Line” (down—order), “Caution: do Not Stop On Tracks” (static—solid).

Out of 134 Grateful Dead song titles sampled 58 contain references to thermal qualities and 76 do not. About 26%, or 35 titles, contain the references to thermal qualities in a sequence. Most of the sequences, 23 out of 35, or ~65%, qualify as mixed sequences. Of the mixtures 17 (~74%) are made of imperceivable opposites.

Grateful Dead lyrics

The Grateful Dead’s “Friend Of The Devil”:

"I lit up from Reno (brightupsolid) / I was trailed by twenty hounds / Didn't get to sleep that night (dark) / Till the morning came around (bright) / Set out running but I'll take my time (dynamicstatic) / A friend of the Devil is a friend of mine (hot) / If I get home before daylight (bright) / I just might get some sleep tonight (staticdark) / I ran into the Devil, babe (dynamichot) / He loaned me twenty bills / I spent that night in Utah (dark) / In a cave up in the hills (inup) / I ran down to the levee (dynamicdown) / But the Devil caught me there (hotin) / He took my twenty dollar bill / And he vanished in the air (fluid) / Got two reasons why I cry (fluid) / Away each lonely night (outdark) / The first one's named sweet Anne Marie / And she's my heart's delight (bright) / Second one is prison, baby / The sheriff's on my trail / And if he catches up with me (inup) / I’ll spend my life in jail (dynamicin) / Got a wife in Chino, babe / And one in Cherokee / First one says she's got my child / But it don't look like me."

Of 29 thermal quality references throughout the song 20 occur in sequences with other qualities and 8 occur alone. Among the 10 sequences there is 1 made exclusively of things from the more exciting thermal category, 1 of less exciting things, and 8 sequences are mixtures. In terms of lyric lines, 9 (~33%) out of 27 lines contain quality sequences and 7 (~26%) contain mixtures. In this song 7 (~87%) of the mixtures are of the imperceivable kind. Further mixing occurs among references in separate lines, for example darkness in the third line contrast with brightness in the fourth and brightness in the eighth contrasts with darkness and stasis in the ninth.

The Cure

In 185 songs titles sampled from the band The Cure, 78 (~42%) reference thermal qualities and 107 do not. Thermal qualities occur in sequences in 18 titles, of which 11, or ~61%, appear to be thermoaesthetic mixtures, and of these 9 (~82%) are imperceivable.

The Cure titles with mixtures: “Fire In Cairo” (hotsolid), “Grinding Halt” (disorderstatic), “Bananafishbones” (bright—fish—solid), “10.15 Saturday Night” (brightdark), “Jumping Someone Else's Train” (upsolid), “The Upstairs Room” (upin), “Snow In Summer” (coldhot), “Chain Of Flowers” (solidflower), “From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea” (influid), “In between Days” (inbright), “Coming Up” (inup).

More exciting things outnumber less exciting ones in The Cure titles with references to two or more qualities from the same category: “Hot Hot Hot!!!” (hothothot), “Shake Dog Shake” (disorderdogdisorder), “Bloodflowers” (fluidflower), “Spilt Milk” (disorderfluid), “A Strange Day” (disorderbright), “To The Sky” (upfluid), “Closedown” (indown).

In Cure song titles with a reference to single thermal quality, it comes from the hotter category in 32 out of 55, or ~58% of the time: “The Last Day Of Summer” (hot), “Fear Of Ghosts” (fluid), “Boys Don't Cry” (fluid), “Breathe” (fluid), “Burn” (fluid),“Prayers For Rain” (fluid), “The Blood” (fluid), “The Drowning Man” (fluid), “Ocean” (fluid), “Icing Sugar” (fluid), “The Same Deep Water As You” (down—fluid), “Cut” (disorder), “Cut Here” (disorder), “World War” (disorder), “Throw Your Foot” (disorder), “Disintegration” (disorder), “Strange Attraction” (disorder), “Jupiter Crash” (disorder), “Screw” (disorder), “The Exploding Boy” (disorder), “Splintered In Her Head” (disorder), “Mr Pink Eyes” (bright), “Halo” (bright), “A Pink Dream” (bright), “Another Day” (bright), “Dressing Up” (up), “The Top” (up), “High” (up), “Just Like Heaven” (up), “The Hanging Garden” (up), “Doing The Unstuck” (out), “Apart” (out), “Push” (out), “Open” (out), “Out Of Mind” (out), “Out Of This World” (out),“Cold” (cold), “I’m Cold” (cold), “Object” (solid), “Fascination Street” (solid), “Wailing Wall” (solid), “Pillbox Tales” (order), “A Foolish Arrangement” (order), “The Perfect Girl” (order), “If Only Tonight We Could Sleep” (dark), “A Night Like This” (dark), “At Night” (dark), “All Cats Are Grey” (cat—dark), “Stop Dead” (static), “Sinking” (down), “Snakepit” (snake—down), “Watching Me Fall” (down), “Subway Song,” (down), “Catch” (in), “Close To Me” (in), “Trap” (in), “Give Me It” (in), “Man Inside My Mouth” (in), “The Holy Hour” (in).

The Cure lyrics

The Cure’s “Killing an Arab,” with repeated lines removed:

Standing on the beach (solid/fluid) / With a gun in my hand (solid) / Staring at the sea (fluid) / Staring at the sand (solid) / Staring down the barrel (downin) / At the Arab on the ground (solid) / I can see his open mouth / But I hear no sound / I’m alive (dynamic) / I’m dead / I’m the stranger / Killing an Arab / I can turn (dynamic) / And walk away (dynamicout) / Or I can fire the gun (hotsolid) / Staring at the sky (upfluid) / Staring at the sun (uphot) / Whichever I chose / It amounts to the same / Absolutely nothing / I feel the steel butt jump (solidup) / Smooth in my hand / Staring at myself / Reflected in the eyes / Of the dead man on the beach (solidsolid/fluid) / The dead man on the beach (staticsolid/fluid).

Of 26 thermal quality references throughout the song 20 occur in sequences with other qualities and 6 occur alone. Among the 9 sequences there are 2 made exclusively of things from the more exciting thermal category, 1 made exclusively of less exciting things and 6 sequences are mixtures. In terms of lines, 8 (32%) out of 25 contain quality sequences and 5 (20%) contain mixtures. Here 5 (~83%) of the mixtures are imperceptible.

Overall song titles results

Overall out of 455 song titles 182, or ~40%, contain a reference to one or more of the thermal qualities hypothetically present at high rates in artistic writing, which is unexpected without any obvious particular reason for us to be more interested in these qualities rather than others. Of all the titles 67 contain sequences. Sequential combinations of qualities across hotter and colder categories, or mixed sequences, occur in 42 (a rate of 9% for all titles) of titles, or ~62% of titles involving sequences. Among the sequences 32 (~76%)

Overall lyrics results

Of 78 thermal quality references throughout all songs 61 (~78%) occur in sequences and 17 (~21%) occur alone. Among the 28 sequences throughout the 3 songs there are 4 (~14%) made of more exciting things, 4 (~14%) made of less exciting things and 20 (~71%) mixtures. In terms of lines 26 (32%) out of 75 contain quality sequences and 18 (24%) contain mixtures. A total of 17 (~85%) of the mixtures are imperceivable.


Artists appear to be as much aware of the aesthetic value of indirect opposition between psychothermal qualities they are of the direct opposition, even though such opposition is not apparent to us in nature, and there's no obvious reason given the current views on the evolution of the mind to account for how they know these things.

Exceptions in Pink Floyd song titles

Pink Floyd song titles which do not reference the thermal qualities under consideration: A Great Day For Freedom, A Saucerful Of Secrets, A Spanish Piece, Absolutely Curtains, Apples And Oranges, Arnold Layne, Astronomy Domine, Atom Heart Mother, Biding My Time, Bike, Bring The Boys Back Home, Chapter 24, Childhood's End, Cluster One, Comfortably Numb, Coming Back To Life, Corporal Clegg, Cymbaline, Dogs, Don't Leave Me Now, Echoes, Embryo, Empty Spaces, Fearless, Free Four, Goodbye Cruel World, Grantchester Meadows, Green Is The Colour, Have A Cigar, Hey You, Ibiza Bar, If, In The Flesh, On The Turning Away, It Would Be So Nice, Julia Dream, Keep Talking, King Bee (slim Harpo 1957), Lost For Words, Lucifer Sam, Lucy Leave, Matilda Mother, Money, Mother, Nick's Boogie, Nobody Home, Not Now John, One Of My Turns, One Of The Few, One Of These Days, One Slip, Paranoid Eyes, Pigs (three Different Ones), Poles Apart, Remember A Day, Round And Around, San Tropez, Scream Thy Last Scream, Seamus, See Emily Play, Several Species Of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together In A Cave And Grooving With A Pict, Sheep, Signs Of Life, Sorrow, Southampton Dock, Speak To Me, Take It Back, Take Up The Stethoscope And Walk, The Final Cut, The Fletcher Memorial Home, The Gnome, The Happiest Days Of Our Lives, The Hero's Return, The Narrow Way, The Scarecrow, The Show Must Go On, The Trial, Time, Us And Them, Vegetable Man, Vera, Waiting For The Worms, What Do You Want From Me, What Shall We Do Now, Wish You Were Here, Wots...uh The Deal, Yet Another Movie, Young Lust, Your Possible Pasts.


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