Today is the 13th of February - the day before Valentine's Day, and presumably a very busy one for those few shops who still sell blank cassette tapes.
When you're on a budget, there's no greater expression of love than a compilation of romantically meaningful songs. Nowadays, of course, it's equally acceptable to give the object of your affection a mix CD or a Spotify playlist, but scientifically speaking, tapes are more romantic because they take so much longer to make.
- Check the words. Never include a song in your romantic playlist without first inspecting the song's lyrics. A shockingly large portion of the world's favourite love songs are, in fact, creepy stalker anthems, and these tracks will do more harm than good if you give them to your other half (or, worse still, your crush). Every Breath You Take, The One I Love, and I Will Possess Your Heart are perhaps the most commonly-misunderstood non-love songs, but they aren't the only ones. Always check songmeanings.com before finalising your tape.
- Choose songs that are personal to the recipient. If you really want your tape to hit the spot, you need to use songs that actally mean something to you and your lover. Most couples have at least one 'our song', and it's crucial that you don't leave those tracks out in favour of generic wuv songs like I Will Always Love You, The Way You Look Tonight, et cetera.
And if you don't have a specific 'our song', choose a band or artist that you both like and find a love song by them. Every artist has at least one love song - you might have to do some digging, but it'll be there.
- Include some Barry White. That voice would get anybody in the mood for lovin', and his best-known songs are some of the most genuinely, unambiguously romantic in the pop canon. There are no stalkery undertones in, for example, You're the First, the Last, My Everything:
Admittedly, he is quite obviously singing this to a woman, and so it doesn't work so well if you're making a mixtape for a boy. Still, I wouldn't complain if somebody gave me this song for Valentine's Day.
- Do something clever. I once compiled a kind of acrostic mixtape whose constituent tracks spelled out the name of my then-girlfriend if you took the first letter of each one. Her name was Sarah, so the first track was Singing in My Sleep by Semisonic, then Ask by The Smiths, then...uh...something beginning with R...You get the idea. Smug, clever touches like that are a great way to show that you care more than the average assclown suitor with a tape recorder and a few CDs to draw from.
- Don't just fill it with sex songs. It's tempting, when compiling one of these things, to solely go for songs that will sound good in the bedroom. Include a few of those, by all means, but if your whole mix is packed with tracks like Let's Get It On, Kiss You All Over, and Bump N' Grind, your sinister intentions will be entirely transparent, and the tape will feel more like a pervy (and slightly desperate) sex gambit than a romantic gift from the heart.
That should be enough to see you right. Good luck, enjoy making your mix, and Happy Valentine's Day!