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So, we made you this mixtape: this week on The Green Room

Mixtapes can be the perfect way to say, "I love you."
Leah Tihia/via Flickr
Mixtapes can be the perfect way to say, "I love you."

Hopefully you're aware of this by now, but Sunday is Valentine’s Day. 

If you’re in love with someone special, you might expect to get some roses, perhaps some chocolates, maybe even a diamond necklace. And pretty much the only thing that could ever possibly top some bling on V-Day would be a handpicked mixtape from the love of your life, right?

A mixtape was originally a homemade music album recorded to a cassette tape. Despite the fact that cassette tapes have gone the way of the dinosaur, the term and concept of a “mixtape” continued with CDs, and is very popular today with digital streaming platforms like Spotify and YouTube.

When IPR’s Aaron Selbig was serving in the Army, he was obsessed with making mixtapes. He said it was a way to connect with people he loved a world away. Even though it’s much less time-consuming to create mixtape today, he says there’s something to be said for physically holding a mixtape from a loved one. 

He says he feels bad for kids today— they won’t ever get that feeling.

“They’ll never know the tangible magic of holding plastic cassette tapes in their hand, popping them in a tape deck, and then having to rewind them with a pencil after they get eaten,” Selbig laments. “You just can’t do that with a Spotify playlist.”

Listen to the IPR Valentine's Day Mixtape:

Veyda DeAgro-Ruopp is studying Film at Interlochen Arts Academy. And even though she’s a Millennial, she tends to agree with Selbig. Even though it’s a lot easier to make a Spotify mixtape, rather than hover around a radio for hours, she says it’s not as meaningful. 

“I don’t think it’s really a very special thing because you can do it so quickly,” DeAgro-Ruopp explains. “I had a friend who made a mixtape on Spotify… for another person and it was a public playlist so I could see it; I could listen to it if I wanted to.”

You can listen to Veyda's mixtape, too, if you want to:


Another disadvantage of the digital mixtape is the fact that decorating them is nearly impossible. Hrishikesh Hirway is a musician and creator of the popular music podcast Song Exploder.

As a former graphic artist, that’s one aspect Hirway really misses about say, a Spotify mixtape. You could draw and write on cassettes and CD’s, but you can’t write on an audio file.

Hirway is very familiar with creating digital mixtapes. He curates a mix every week called, Five Song Fridays. At our most basic level, he says we as humans have the never-ending problem of trying to communicate our feelings. 

Mixtapes, he says, are the perfect solution to that problem.

“The purpose of the mixtape is to really bridge the failures of language and shyness and whatever else might be keeping us from being able to fully express ourselves.” Hrishikesh Hirway

And that will always remain the same, despite the format. 

Dan Wanschura is the Host and Executive Producer of Points North.