[Young Hearts, you must be different. Not for us, but for next time.]
Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! I hope that the collective paths to your bedroom are lined with red-tipped yellow rose petals. Or some sort of daisy. I hope that nothing but Sam Cooke and Jeff Buckley are sifting slow through your speakers. I hope your happiness is bordering on obscene.
For those of you unattached, whether recently or semi-permanently, buck up! Today is not one to revile, but one to rejoice. And what better way to celebrate a day of coupling spent alone than by gaining up the courage to re-couple? And what better way to boost that courage than with a mix-tape? A full-on, balls to the wall, ‘hey, I fancy you. How about a cup of coffee?’ mix-tape.
Now, before we start, a few rules. First, mix-tapes for love interests need to strike a delicate balance between ebullient shouts of joy and desperate declarations of affection. Secondly, there is a thin line between clever and creepy; if you haven’t already established it as an inside joke, a first mix-tape is no place for “Wait (The Whisper Song).” Or this. Lastly, trust the songs to speak for themselves. If you feel the urge to record one of the songs yourself, featuring simply your weak and wavering baritone and less than stellar acoustic guitar, for the love of god, don’t. Especially if you’re recording it onto a microcassette recorder. Sorry about that, Tricia.
Okay, rules established. Let’s get mixing!
1. You! Me! Dancing! – Los Campesinos!
“We’re ignorant, we’re stupid, and we’re happy.”
You always want to start strong enough to catch attention, but with enough headroom that you can build momentum over the next three tracks. Also, this song rips.
2. Grass – Animal Collective
“I’d like to see you. Often!”
The best track from an album filled with love songs.
3. Young Adult Friction – The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
“Don’t check me out.”
Sometimes musical feeling is much more important than lyrical content. This song is a rush of 80s-tinged romance. There’s also nothing wrong about playing coy.
4. I’ll Believe in Anything – Wolf Parade
“I’d share a life and you’d Share a life.”
This is one of my favorite love songs of all time. Odd and lyrical. Emotional and obtuse. It’s playful and beautiful and near perfect.
5. Make it Hot – Mirah
“Make it hot, take me over and over and over.”
Track five is where you slow it down. Also, apparently, where you get sexxxy. Mirah is a gift you should give to anyone you’re even remotely interested in.
6. I Don’t Know – Lisa Hannigan
“I’d Like to Know You.”
This song was tailor made for budding romance mix-tapes. It’s essentially summing up everything that you’re trying to say and including muted trumpet. You can never go wrong with muted trumpet.
7. You Send Me – Sam Cooke
“Honest, you do.”
Always, always, always, include Sam Cooke. Find a place. Always.
8. She Is Beautiful – Andrew W.K.
“Falahlalalala, don’t know what to say.”
Consider this the first song of the “B” side of your mix. Start strong. Andrew W.K. is romance. Don’t doubt it.
9. Little Secret – Passion Pit
“Higher and higher and higher!”
Truth is, it’s incredibly hard to follow up Andrew W.K. Get a little dance-y with Passion Pit and a chorus of children.
10. Parenthesis – The Blow
“If something in deli aisle makes you cry, of course I’ll put my arms around you and I’ll walk you outside.”
Keep on dancing.
11. Pump Up the Volume – Art Brut
“I can’t help it. ‘Have you heard this song before?’”
Another song genetically engineered to end up on a mix-tape. Eddie Argos stops making out in order to turn up the radio.
12. There is a Boy that Never Goes Out – The Lucksmiths
“I’ve woken up on one too many floors, but my favorite was yours.”
By this point, you’re starting to lower the energy of the mix again. No band writes better earnest love songs than The Lucksmiths. And you can never go wrong with an allusion to the Smiths.
13. The Leanover – Life Without Buildings
“If I lose you…if I lose you…if I lose you…”
Never lose sight that a mix is about the music. About the joy inherent in discovering new songs, sharing artists and ideas. Life Without Buildings was a woefully short-lived and tragically unheralded band who released one great studio album and an even better live album. “The Leanover” is the stand-out of both. Share it with someone you may love.
14. Citrus – The Hold Steady
“I feel Jesus in the clumsiness of young and awkward lovers.”
15. 100,000 Fireflies – The Magnetic Fields
“I’m afraid of the dark without you close to me.”
You’re coming close to the ending here, so a upswing in tempo and mood will help bridge the gap. This song was ubiquitous in the C86 era, and there’s no reason it shouldn’t be again.
16. I Try – Macy Gray
“I believe that fate has brought us here, and we should be together, babe, but we’re not.”
I am a firm believer in the gospel of Macy Gray, and I will find any excuse to put her on a mix. If only to evangelize.
17. Old College Try – The Mountain Goats
“I will walk down to the end with you/if you will come all the way down with me.”
Seventeen is your last track. Choose it well.
Well, that’s it. A few more rules before I leave you to make your own:
Don’t be afraid of pop music. If the mixee has a strange fascination with Colbie Caillat’s “Bubbly”, find a place for it. It’ll be a pleasant surprise amongst the sea of Animal Collective songs.
Remember that you’re making this mix for someone else. If they’re a huge 70s soul fan, get soul-centric. If they love obscure Belgian metal, throw some Zwaardbroeder in the mix.
Again, Happy Valentine’s Day from all of us in Chaperone. Stay lovely.
-Miles + Chap