When I was in high school, it was incredibly rare to meet someone who actively listened to the same music as I did. Sure, I did have a handful of online friends to fangirl over the same bands, but it wasn’t the same as being able to talk about a band or album with someone face-to-face.
In the broadest definition provided by a simple Google search, a mixtape is a compilation of favorite pieces of music, typically by different artists, recorded onto a cassette tape or other medium by an individual. Personally, that medium for me was CD-R discs. iTunes and Windows Media Player were the main media software I used at the time to buy, download, and organize my music.
As an attempt to get my friends (and even some family) listening to the same pop punk and acoustic rock songs as I did, I would closely analyze and match tracks that I thought were most like their favorite bands and artists. I paid attention to the sounds and lyrics, trying to figure out if my intended listener would like the song or not. After compiling a list of about 10 to 15 tracks, I would burn them on to a blank disc, create a case our of paper, and write the song titles and artists on the back of it. I still use this process today, although, now I even sometimes replicate the album artwork too.
Because I had a pretty good idea of what my friends and family would and would not like, I would estimate that about 70% of the songs I chose were favorable to their ears. Some of their thoughts were even surprising at times! For example, my 70-year-old father enjoyed multiple songs by alternative rock band, Muse. Even more surprising, he raved over the iconic “Welcome to the Black Parade” by My Chemical Romance—specifically the sounds of the piano. My younger sister also enjoyed the solemn musical and lyrical style of bands like Mayday Parade. Bands that some of my friends enjoyed included All Time Low, Yellowcard, Sleeping With Sirens, Panic! at the Disco, and We The Kings.
Now the main question here—why should mixtapes never die? Well, I couldn’t think of a more personal gift that equally represents both you as a giver and the other person as a receiver. After all, you are compiling a list of your favorite songs that you think the other person will enjoy just as much as you do. It is also extremely affordable and efficient to create for those who aren’t usually creative or don’t have a lot of money to spend. Putting together a mixtape for someone you care about is the ultimate way to give something to someone that not only you can both enjoy together, but it is something that can last forever too. And if you don’t like the same songs and artists as you did 5, 10, or 20 years ago? At the very least, you have a time capsule to give you a glimpse at who you once were in the past.