As for the order of the songs, one of the most solid pieces of advice comes
from the movie High Fidelity starring John Cusack. He said you have to
start off with something really good, and then with track two, you have to put
something even better, but you don't want to blow your load too early in the
tape, so you cool it off a bit for track three. After that, you might find
yourself in a bit of a freefall. Don't panic. Just listen to your songs
back-to-back and see if they sound good next to each other.
Sometimes You Can Pull Off Some Funny Things.
"The best transition we ever had was we had this nice quiet song with a sad
ending, and then right after it, 'Do The Mario' played," Merriman said. OK, so
the guy likes Mario.
Doller offers just a touch more advice then leaves you on your own. "The only
tip I have is don't use the same band or singer back to back," she said. "Oh,
and vary the tempo."
Mullett agrees with Doller and has a helpful tip on how to vary the tempo.
"Almost all the mix tapes I've made have one overriding principle: Make each
song very different from the last," Mullett said. "Therefore, I wouldn't have
'Strawberry Fields Forever' by the Beatles next to 'Journey to the Center of the
Mind' by the Amboy Dukes, because they're both psychedelic. Instead, I would
follow either song with, say, 'Angel of Death' by Slayer. Then I might put a
Mozart piece on and maybe something by the Presidents of the United States of
America or Camper Van Beethoven before looping back around to the other
psychedelic song. "I just feel that it's boring to hear the same type of song
twice in a row; far more interesting to have a juxtaposition."
He takes Doller's advice of not having the same artist back to back a step
further. "Not only do I never put the same artist twice on the same tape, I try
never to have the same musician appear twice on the same tape," he said.
"Therefore, I couldn't put a Rainbow song on the same tape as a Deep Purple
song, unless it's from one of the handful of Deep Purple albums that Ritchie
Blackmore is not on. This rule requires some vigilance, as someone like Ritchie
Blackmore or Jimmy Page played on quite a lot of 1960s recordings on a session
basis, and it's not always easy to get that information, but I figure a mix tape
isn't truly mixed if you've got two performances by the same person on it."