Music

Whatever happened to giving people mixtapes?

Cassette tapes are dead CDs are on their way out. With the rise of technology and music streaming apps, I totally understand why they are becoming obsolete. But there is one thing I miss — mixtapes. And not the ones musicians release, but the ones that you could give to that special someone or a good friend.

I realize mixtapes may be a weird thing to miss, especially since I grew up around the time this romantic gesture was already starting to die, but hear me out.

Music is so powerful because of the personal connections a listener can make to certain songs or bands. For instance, when I listen to Mumford & Sons’ album “Wilder Mind,” I am immediately transported to the cobblestone streets in front of my flat from my study abroad semester in London. “Midnight City” by M83 will always take me back to my high school prom, and anything by Frank Sinatra reminds me of my parents.

Whether you recognize it or not, everyone has that one song that can take you back to that special moment, place or person, and that’s what I love about music.

When you give another person a mixtape, it is basically your own artistic audio letter. The type of music, the arrangement, the bands, the name of the tape and all of the other thought that goes into each detail and selection tells a story.

Think about the recent game-changing partnership between popular dating app Tinder and Spotify. By letting users add their favorite music onto their dating profiles, it can attract other users with similar music tastes and allows for an icebreaker that’s a lot better than, “you up?”

Learning about the type of music a person likes is a glimpse into their world. Think about the music you listen to and the reasons why you like certain bands and songs. Now imagine getting a playlist made especially for you. Does that make your heart flutter, or is it just me?

Maybe it’s just the hopeless romantic in me, but I want mixtapes to make a major comeback this year, especially with Valentine’s Day coming up.

But I also want to know where the stigma of mixtapes began. In many movies and television shows viewers have seen the dorky or desperate person give whoever they’re in love with a mixtape only to have it thrown out or made fun of.

The very unstable character “Ponytail Derek” gave Candace numerous mixtapes full of sad love songs and creepy commentary in “The Perks of Being a Wallflower.” Ashton Kutcher’s character Adam in “No Strings Attached” made a hilarious “Period Mix” for Emma, played by Natalie Portman, who just wanted a strictly friends-with-benefits relationship. Could this stigma around mixtapes be the result of society’s rejection of commitment and embrace of hookup culture?

Sharing music is an intimate activity. It can put a person into a vulnerable position, especially for those who are trying to send a message. You may think that it’s just a playlist, but it’s more than that. Making a mixtape can be a grand romantic gesture and a sign of trust or chance that the other person may be taking on you. Jack’s Mannequin lead singer Andrew McMahon sang it best in “The Mixed Tape” – don’t be afraid to write someone “a symphony of sound.”

Christine Chung is a senior communication and rhetorical studies major. Her column appears weekly in Pulp. She can be reached at chchun02@syr.edu.

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