Monday, 16 April 2012

What Makes An Excellent Mix Tape?

What makes an excellent mix tape? Well awesome tunes obviously but let's take that as a given and while we're at it let's also knock some other factors on the head. A compilation of your favourite current tunes doesn't count. OK 90% of the playlists on my iPod were created this way and some of them I would class among by best 'mix tapes' but there's nothing that special to creating them, do I like that song? Yes. Where should it go on the playlist (up-tempo/favourites at the start and slower/fillers later on) and then they're ready to listen to.

Now let's look at true, creative mix tapes. What are the rules? Surely good music shouldn't have rules? Well actually the rules are what make a good mix tape and you make them up yourself as you go along. First you choose a theme. This could be a mix tape with all summer songs, chilling out songs, songs with ages in the lyrics, songs with years in lyrics, songs from a certain era (eg. Britpop), I even had a mix tape in my teenage years called "Making The Bed", man I must have been some hell raiser in my teens.

Where am I heading with all this? Well last week I had a package pop through the post with a German post mark and all it had inside was a CDR with FAQ written on it. "Perfect" I thought, something to listen to on my way to work and even better I didn't know what was on there (sometimes the best/worst thing about a playlist is knowing what song is coming next).

So I popped in the CD and the first track was "Whatever happened to Corey Haim?". "Ah easy" I thought, FAQ, frequently asked questions, "they're all questions". They came on Deacon Blue and I couldn't quite remember the title of the track but I couldn't work out the question. Then came on "What's the frequency Keneth?" followed by Grandaddy. I knew the title of the Grandaddy track but again it wasn't a question so what's the theme? Was I missing a lyric? Maybe the next track would give it away? "Hey you what's that sound?" by Les Rythmes Digitales and then next one - YES I finally got it. "Whoop whoop it's the sound of the police". They weren't all questions. They were questions and answers.

Soon I found myself listening to the question song and trying to guess the answer. I was devastated to hear the Magic Numbers tell me my jumper was Forever Lost, I laughed out loud (sorry LOL'd to you kids) as Pulp asked "Do You Remember The First Time" and Pet Shop Boys told me their memory was that "Love Comes Quickly".

What a great idea for a playlist and one that on the surface seems so easy to do, but can you make it difficult to guess at the start and then entertain later? I was so sure that Nirvana's question of "Where did you sleep last night?" would be followed by "Hotel Yorba" only to find she was "Somewhere Else", thanks for nothing Razorlight.

So all in all it was an excellent mix tape, it puzzled me, it entertained me and best of all I didn't skip a single track (despite my keenness to find out the answer). So I guess my challenge now is to send one back and anyone reading this, yes you, you should put together a mix tape and pop it in the post. They're great to put together and a good one is even better to receive...

Here's the full track listing. Anyone got any they'd like to add?

Oh and who was the playlist from? Schonberg of course.

Whatever Happened To Corey Haim? - The Thrills
Real Gone Kid - Deacon Blue

What's The Frequency Kenneth? - R.E.M.
AM 180 - Grandaddy

(Hey You) What's That Sound? - Les Ryhmes Digitales
Sound of da Police - KRS-One

Where Did You Sleep Last Night? - Nirvana
Somewhere Else - Razorlight

How Was It For You? - James
In Too Deep - Sum41 (You wish Schonberg)

What You Waiting For - Gwen Stefani
Last Train To London - ELO (I had to Shazam that one, I admit it).

Where's Me Jumper? - Sultans of Ping
Forever Lost - Magic Numbers

Where Have You Been Tonight? - Shed Seven
Drinking In LA - Bran Van 3000  (Could have been Gay Bar, Shorley's Wall or Dog Shit Street?)

Do You Remember The First Time? - Pulp
Love Comes Quickly - Pet Shop Boys

3 comments:

Schönberg said...

It was a pleasure Jal, glad you liked it. The playlist was restricted to only 9 questions and answers to fit on a CD. I had about 12 questions in total but can't remember all of them. Some were pushing it a little bit though, I had Rod Stewart's "Do you think I'm Sexy?" followed by The Dandy Warhols "Not if you were the last junkie on earth". I think you had the best ones.

Schönberg said...

Your words on what makes an excellent mix tape made me think of an old website I used to frequent when I first got online (back in 1999) and, hey! It's still operational, albeit with a massive re-vamp. The site is called www.artofthemix.org and it's a site where people can post their mixtapes. You get some top notch mixes on there, think I'll add a few new ones...

Jal said...

I'll have a look. Shame the Rod one didn't make it on, it certainly made me laugh.