Mixtape Theory, Part 1

August 10, 2011

I’ve been making mixtapes and mix CDs and online playlists for a while now, twenty years? I’ve thought a lot about mixtapes over the years, and I think I have a few things to say about them. These thoughts apply specifically to the classic 60 or 90 minute cassette tape variety, but can be expanded to include aspects of more modern composed mixes.

I think Mixtapes can generally be classified into a few categories:

A. Relationship mixtapes
B. Thematic mixtapes
C. General mixtapes

The first category can be a bit tricky as it deals with romantic relationships. Within this category are the following:

1. the I Think You’re Cute tape – This one should be light-hearted and include just a lot of good songs that you really like or are into right now. Perhaps a few songs from your past. Thematic content of lyrics should be examined very closely; there should be nothing indicating obvious desire or love. That’s too much, too soon. You want to show someone a little bit about yourself by the music you love, especially if they love music too.

2. the I Think I’m Falling In Love With You tape – This is a “next step” in some relationships. There should still be a lot of light-hearted songs that you love, especially ones you think the recipient will particularly enjoy, based on what you’ve learned of their musical tastes. This is when you can drop hints about your feelings, choosing songs about love or falling in love or being in love or wanting to spend time with someone. But they still can’t be obvious. The recipient needs to slowly realize the way you feel, as the lyrical content of some of the songs begins to dawn on them. That’s why you keep the light-hearted ones interspersed with the dropping-hints songs.

3. the I’m Definitely In Love With You tape – Finally you can put all the songs you’ve ever loved that are too sappy or too obvious onto a tape, the ones that you’d feel embarrassed about in any other situation. You can put songs with “love” in the title. You can put a few “let’s go to bed” songs, but not more than two or three. Absolutely none of the songs should be downers. Think positively. You’re in love!

4. the Break-Up tape – I don’t have a lot of thoughts on these. I hear people make them for themselves after a relationship ends. An ex-boyfriend and I made each other one once, but it was more of a silly thing than a serious thing.

Of course, not all relationships unfold accompanied by mixtapes.

Next time: Thematic Mixtapes!