The hardest emotion for two people to display to one another is love. Sure they can write poems, or send flowers, or cook a favorite meal, or kiss, or canoodle, or go on romantic vacation cruise through upper Mongolia, or even say "I love you," ... but do any of those things really say love? What's needed is a method of communication that can woo the heart and rock out the soul. What's needed is a mix tape.
A mix tape conveys what you could have said if you kept practicing the guitar and didn't scare young children when you sing. It's the first step of a real relationship and takes you from the "like" stage to the "like-like" stage. For a teenager or hipster, a mix tape become the unspoken statement or, "I really think you're swell. Now here are some songs that should help me get to second base." You could use it to try and round third and slide into home, but that's some pretty tricky mixing. Marvin Gaye's Let's Get It On may work, but don't oversell your position with a song like George Michael's I Want Your Sex. There's a fine line between romantic gesture and restraining order.
In the heyday of mixes--after 8 Tracks and before MP3s--you had to have a physical copy of the song before you could transfer it to a cassette or CD. This usually meant that aside from borrowing your sister's Bryan Adams and Eric Clapton: Unplugged CD's, you had to rely on whatever music you owned. If you were a music aficionado, you were OK. But if you were like me and all your tapes could fit inside a shoebox, then you were in trouble. One of my best friends tried to make a mix for a girl during his sophomore year in high school and he only owned three Guns and Roses tapes and one Pearl Jam CD. When he got to track four and had to resort to Welcome to the Jungle, we both knew that he should look elsewhere for dates.
The key to a mix tape (or playlist for the iTunes generations) lies in mixing up the themes and genres. Love songs hit a nice chord, but after five or six in a row, they all sound the same:
I love you like [insert metaphor]
and more than [insert another metaphor]
Why don't we [sexual innuendo]
Throw in a power anthem to shake it up a little. It will show that you have some depth and can find interest in a variety of topics. Besides, 20 love songs in a row becomes pretty creepy. Stalkers fill a playlist with 20 love songs.
For an added degree of difficulty, try to select different genres and eras. Like theme choice, this shows that your personality has many sides to it. You like Rock AND Country!? Frank Sinatra and Jay Z?! Why, you are complex and interesting and need some lovin'. Selecting a smattering of lesser known bands also helps your "interesting" level, but do so sparingly. Filling the entire mix with "indie" artists makes you a condescending douchebag.
Every year since 2007 I've actually created a mix for the Queen for one of her Christmas presents. I find that it keeps the marriage interesting, especially during a stressful time of the year. Now that the Princess is around and cognizant, all music must carry the all-important Princess Seal of Approval. And although its kinda testosterone-heavy at the end, I think we did alright this year.
Here's the list:
Jack Grubb writes an incredible blog, Losing the Internets, which is read by at least 37 people and over 2,100 Russian SPAM bots. In his spare time he helps small companies find their marketing voice. Jack currently lives deliberately in Appalachia, Kentucky with his wife, two daughters, Jack Russell and a Lego collection beyond compare.