I feel like I must be in high school again because Dave Matthews Band is going on tour this summer. If you didn’t go to MULTIPLE DMB shows with MULITPLE boyfriends (OK, two) in high school then, well, you were not me. I grew up in Upstate New York so going to a Dave Matthews Band show at the outdoor venue in Saratoga (SPAC) was a social requirement. Another social requirement? Making mixtapes for crushes, chock full of subliminal messages and DMB songs.
Growing up in the ‘90s, I got to experience both anxiously awaiting my favorite song being played on the radio to record it onto a cassette tape and also the joy of creating a mix CD for my beau. Both are stressful situations to face because it brings up a lot of questions. How mushy is too mushy? Has she already listened to this song too much? Should I press play AND record? Stuff like that. So for those who never got the chance to experience such simple pleasures, and for those you who did, here’s a list of mandatory songs that were on every mix tape you gave to (or got from) your crush—back in the ’90s, of course.
“Crash Into Me” – Dave Matthews Band
This song is perfect for young love: it’s kinda dirty but not overtly, it’s quiet and slow and it’s – this is TMI – a great song to make out to. #sorrynotsorry If you were making a mixtape in the ‘90s and didn’t put this on it, well, you were mistaken.
“I’ll Make Love to You” – Boyz II Men
Taking it the more overt route you could straight up put “I’ll Make Love To You” on your mixtape. This is to make a BOLD move. You’re probably not suggesting you actually make love but you want your crush to know you have those “hearts-for-eyes emoji face” for them. I once embarrassingly had to dance to this song with my boyfriend at Prom and turned bright red throughout the experience. So this wouldn’t have been my top pick for a mixtape but I knew some bold people who would not have hesitated to put this on a mix.
“Head Over Feet” – Alanis Morissette
Jagged Little Pill was my everything from the moment it came out and “Head Over Feet” was one of my personal favorites. I added this to a mix to A. show I’m cool because I like Alanis Morisette and B. gently nudge him in the direction of thinking I might have a crush. The best thing about “Head Over Feet” is plausible deniability. If he didn’t feel the same way you could just cooly play it off like, “oh it’s just a really good less-well-known song on the album, silly.”
“Fade Into You” – Mazzy Star
This remains the sexiest song I’ve ever heard. This was a real thing for my friends and me in middle school. We thought this was just the greatest song and would listen to it constantly. We didn’t quite get it, or at least I didn’t, but we knew it sounded HOT. You know? Putting this after “Head Over Feet” will really give your crush something to think about. . .
“I Swear” – All 4 One
Just looking this song up has caused me to sing it all day – both to myself and out loud. I mean, who didn’t like singing to this song? “I Swear” is great and kind of non-committal so PERFECT for a mixtape where you’re just trying to test the waters.
“I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” – The Proclaimers
This is the perfect follow up to “I Swear” because it kind of throws the listener of the mix off track. “Does she love me or are we bros?” Which is what all mixtapes I made in the ‘90s were supposed to do, of course. Except for the ones I made myself for car trips, duh. And never forget its use in How I Met Your Mother.
“As I Lay Me Down” – Sophie B Hawkins
I could have honestly saved myself a ton of time and just listed every song off both Dawson’s Creek soundtracks but I’m a professional so I picked my own songs from my life.—including this song which is not on a Dawson’s Creek soundtrack (instead, they picked her song “Lose Your Way” for Vol. 1) but is used as Dawson and Joey’s theme song, essentially, throughout the run of the show. Swoon.
“Wild Horses” – The Sundays
Speaking of songs that were important to me because of TV shows I loved. . .this cover of “Wild Horses” by The Sundays is used both in that — ahem — rollercoaster scene in Fear as well as famously in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and was therefore extremely important to my life. The romantic implications of this song vary depending on what the listener knows it from so just. . .be careful.
“Still the One” – Shania Twain
This song was so important to me I bought the CD single of it. Do you know how desperate you had to be for a song to buy the CD single of it? Or even worse, the CASSINGLE? Supes desperate. Anyway, I adored this song and this song really hit home the “I have a crush on you” message.
“My Heart Will Go On” – Celine Dion
I turned 13 in 1998 so Titanic (and Dawson’s Creek premiering) were the two most important things that had happened to me by the time I officially became a teenager. I listened to the soundtrack of Titanic on loop (which shows dedication because that thing has a lot of pan whistles or whatever) and this track was obviously the pinnacle. There were many a tearful rendition performed of this song both at dances and alone in my bedroom. This is the closer to any definitive ‘90s mixtape. This is the height of ‘90s love and nothing will top it because my heart WILL go on.
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