“Now, the making of a good compilation tape is a very subtle art. Many do’s and don’ts. First of all, you’re using someone else’s poetry to express how you feel. This is a delicate thing.”
“The making of a great compilation tape, like breaking up is hard to do. It takes ages longer than it might seem. You gotta kick it off with a killer to grab attention. Then you gotta take it up a notch. But you don’t want to blow your wad. So then you gotta cool it off a notch.”
Rob, High Fidelity
Put together a two-hour playlist to be played on Friday 20th November at the Lexington and win a £40 bar tab, an area for you and your mates to hang out and appreciate your work, plus guestlist for the Chris Baio (Vampire Weekend) DJ set upstairs at White Heat later that evening.
Send your ideas as a spotify playlist, soundcloud playlist, mixcloud mix, or just a list of tracks you think would set the tone to email@example.com and we’ll get in touch with the winners via email.
In the spirit of the occasion and to get your creative juices flowing here’s a compilation of some of the finest and most memorable mixtapes that have made the playlist format such an enduring feature of pop culture and, indeed, our lives.
Guardians of the Galaxy
Awesome Mix Vol. 1
Awesome Mix Volume One forms the emotional centre of Guardians of the Galaxy, it’s Quill’s last connection to his home planet of Earth and more importantly his mother and his heritage, as it’s the music she listened to whilst she was growing up. In short, Awesome Mixtape Vol. 1 not only forms the unmistakable sonic tone of the movie, it’s also a huge driving force for Quill as a character. It’s also an excellent example of how a mixtape, when done with due consideration, can form a deeply personal emotional narrative.
I’m Not in Love – 10cc
Come and Get Your Love – Redbone
Go All the Way – Raspberries
Never Been to Spain – Three Dog Night
Hooked on a Feeling – Blue Swede
Magic – Pilot
The Pina Colada Song – Rupert Holmes
Livin’ Thing – Electric Light Orchestra
Moonage Daydream – David Bowie
Fooled Around and Fell in Love – Elvin Bishop
Fox on the Run – The Sweet
Cherry Bomb – The Runaways
Spirit in the Sky – Norman Greenbaum
O-O-H Child – Five Stairsteps
Surrender – Cheap Trick
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Mixtape: One Winter (Charlie’s Mixtape)
In the book (and film) Charlie makes Patrick a meticulously crafted mixtape to help him “feel like he belongs to something whenever he’s sad.” The mixtape itself features a bunch of new wave, post punk and leftfield pop choices that highlight with the melancholy narrative about the pitfalls of adolescence, alienation and most importantly and touchingly the ultimate freedom of youth and the possibilities that lay ahead in finding oneself. It’s a love letter to friendship.
Ok, this isn’t strictly a mixtape but I can’t write this list without penning an ode to Jonathan Demme’s use of music in his movies as they provide the backbone two of his best and most underrated films, Something Wild and Married to the Mob. Whilst his name may be synonymous with Silence of the Lambs and Philadelphia he’s got an exceptional musical heritage, “Music was my first love, movies came second.” His musical filmography includes the iconic Talking Heads concert documentary Stop Making Sense, numerous Neil Young documentaries and music videos for the Talking Heads (he’s a long time collaborator with David Byrne) and Tom Tom Club, but for me it’s his off-kilter track selection in his mid-80s movies where I feel his passion comes to life. The soundtracks to both Married to the Mob and especially Something Wild two of my favourite and most played mixtapes and provide the films with a sense of playful possibility and accentuate their new wave sensibilities.
Kurt Cobain’s Montage of Heck Mixtape
Is this possibly the holy grail of mixtapes? A tape made by Cobain’s fair hand, a window into the soul of one of the most celebrated and fascinating musicians of the 20th century? In his own inimitable style the tape is barely what you could describe as a ‘mixtape’ in the traditional sense, instead pulling sounds and samples from a range of sources and barely giving anything the space to breath. It’s 35-something minute window into the musical inspiration behind his work.
Rahad’s Awesome Mixtape #6
Who can forget Boogie Nights, the jizz and blood drenched biopic of fictional 70s porn star Dirk Diggler, loosely based on the legendary John Holmes. The film’s soundtrack is drenched in disco sleaze and the vacuousness of 80s one hit wonders but it’s the apex of the characters deterioration into drug abuse, murder and unbridled chaos, as soundtracked by Rahad’s Mixtape #6, that makes it onto this list. If you were going to go on a crack-addled killing spree, here’s the mixtape to do it to.
Fun fact: You may notice the similarities in Rahad’s mixtape title and Quill’s mother’s mixtape title, given that they both exist in the same decade… well, who knows…
Words: Marcus Harris