Are mix tapes old hat or alive and kicking?
August 17, 2009 5:41 AM   Subscribe

Are mix tapes (Mix CDs, online playlists et al) still relevant?

Yesterday evening I was watching Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, and it made me wonder if the concept of song compilations for the purpose of conveying one's feelings for another is still relevant. If so, at what stage of a relationship is it appropriate to present the recipient with said mix?
posted by animerion to Media & Arts (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I would think it'd be all about the context.

Way back in my high school days I made a mix CD of make out songs for a guy I had a sort of heated summer fling with. He loved it, and we used it on several memorable occasions. We were both young and stupid and horny as hell, but it worked for that.

A few years later I also received a mix CD from someone I had been dating for a while. In theory, was supposed to be full of songs that he thought really showed how he felt about me. I didn't really get it at all. It just seemed like a bunch of random crappy love ballads, and the whole thing felt cheesy and contrived. Dumbest gift ever.

It's kind of a cliche'd gift, so for it to work you would need to put some serious thought into who the recipient is, how you both feel about each other, and what you're putting on it. Personally, I would stay away from the whole "Professing my love for you via a mix tape" thing unless you're both at that stage where you're so blinded by your stomach-butterflies feelings for one another that cliche'd expressions of love come off as sweet rather than corny.

That said, as a friendly gift and more of a "Hey, here are some songs I like, I thought you might like them too" type of thing, it's totally appropriate. At least if you have some insight into what kind of music they like and also aren't giving them songs they already have.
posted by reticulatedspline at 5:58 AM on August 17, 2009

I've exchanged mix CDs with platonic friends on many occasions. It's a fun way to do something creative and hear some new songs.

If you want to do this in a romantic way, though, I think that the earlier in the relationship, the better. There's nothing better than getting a really kickass mix from someone you think you might be kind of into.
posted by oinopaponton at 6:06 AM on August 17, 2009

You might like, in which people submit the stories (and song lists) behind the mixtapes they made or received, typically as lovelorn high school students.
posted by carmicha at 6:21 AM on August 17, 2009 [4 favorites]

Still relevant. Getting a coherent, thoughtful collection of songs, bothenew and old, that have a correct order to be listened to is awesome. Listening to's recommended radio, or to iTunes on shuffle can get pretty boring.
posted by molecicco at 6:23 AM on August 17, 2009

That movie isn't even a year old, and it was fairly successful.
posted by box at 6:24 AM on August 17, 2009

*taps on box*
posted by bricoleur at 6:31 AM on August 17, 2009

Yes. Any stage.
posted by Jaltcoh at 6:32 AM on August 17, 2009

That's kind of like asking whether love letters are still relevant--something thoughtfully composed for those you care about will always be relevant and happily received.

Nonetheless, I do generally recommend against the inclusion of Manowar's Pleasure Slave in any romantic mix for a woman unless you know it will be well received (despite the obvious fact that it is awesome).
posted by Admiral Haddock at 6:36 AM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

I haven't had a significant relationship (or insignificant, for that matter) in the last 6 years that didn't include exchanging mixdiscs. I also exchange mixes with friends. And MeFites.
posted by Kattullus at 6:44 AM on August 17, 2009

Old single guy here, and hell yes, I still make mix tapes. Though these days they take the form of a mp3 CD, and I usually tack on a text file with the song lyrics.

I suggest only making a mix tape for women that you really, really like and know fairly well. The tape is about them, not you. Until you know for sure what they like, I'd wait. It's a huge botch to present a 80s R&B mix when your friend only likes mushroomhead.
posted by TheOtherSide at 8:34 AM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

Of course! Just over three years ago my now-boyfriend sent me a giant mix, made up of 6 cds (yes, 6!), in the mail over a summer break. At that point we were just acquaintances going to the same college, but once I got those CDs I realized "This guy might like me and he seems pretty cool" even though there weren't any I-like-you-won't-you-be-my-girlfriend songs on the cds (in fact it was mostly hardcore punk and metal). Three years later we're together, graduated, and living together, so in my experience mixes are a very relevant and important thing!

Also check out the livejournal community IndieMixTape, it's filled with kids asking for song recommendations or sharing mixes they've made to share such-and-such a feeling.
posted by radiomayonnaise at 8:37 AM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

Married nearly 20 years, and now giving a few mix discs to Mrs. Booth every year. (Next one will be the music I grew up with: AC/DC, Van Halen, Kansas, KISS, etc. If she doesn't hate it I'll have to do it over.)
posted by booth at 9:17 AM on August 17, 2009

Mix comps are definitely still a valid format. Either as a way to set a mood, express some feelings otherwise difficult to voice, or just provide some awesome music that you think someone will like.

It just seemed like a bunch of random crappy love ballads, and the whole thing felt cheesy and contrived.

Just because someone has crap taste in music doesn't mean the medium conveying his taste was dead, just like John Ringo hasn't slain the book format.
posted by FatherDagon at 9:33 AM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

it made me wonder if the concept of song compilations for the purpose of conveying one's feelings for another is still relevant.

Yes, if you're ~18 or younger. Just like before.
posted by ludwig_van at 11:02 AM on August 17, 2009

Yes. Relevant at any stage and for any type of relationship, no need to limit it to the romantic. First dates, fortieth dates, bar mitzvahs, funerals, they all require a mixtape.
posted by lemuria at 12:58 PM on August 17, 2009 [4 favorites]

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