Mood killers

Next time you make a CD for your crush, keep these songs out of the mix

We’ve all done it. Dreamily ensconced in the rapture of a new romance, we craft the perfect mix tape (or CD or playlist) to let our new love know how we feel and, more importantly, how great our taste in music is. Invariably we include one song that, upon mid-relationship reflection, was a little, well, inappropriate.

Some mistakes are horrifyingly egregious. In high school, my on-and-off girlfriend was named Michelle, and I thought it would be totally awesome to lead off an “I’m so glad we’re back together” tape with Guns N’ Roses’ “My Michelle.” From the first line—“Your daddy works in porno”—through references to smack addiction and whorin’ around, it became abundantly clear that I hadn’t picked up any poetry-analysis skills from my 10th-grade literature class. “On-and-off” became “unlisted number” before that C-90 had run its course.

But just because I’m presumptuously stupid enough to open an “I’m sorry Saturday night ended so awkwardly, but didn’t we have fun?” tape with “Sex Party” by the London Quireboys and close it with the Dead Kennedys’ “Too Drunk to Fuck” doesn’t mean you should make similar blunders. What follows is an alphabetical list of songs you’d be ill-advised to use as a love letter.

There’s no need to list tracks that obviously shouldn’t be on any mix ever. Readers of this publication are smart enough to understand that every song by Billie Holiday is essentially an overplayed suicide note. Furthermore, there’s no excuse to include any ’80s power ballad or anything ever recorded by Sarah McLachlan. And never, ever “Wind Beneath My Wings” or “Baby I’m-a Want You.”

“Crazy Little Thing Called Love” by Queen: Not unless you’re gay … and haven’t been outside since 1982.

“First Day of My Life” by Bright Eyes: Indie-rock love songs are so cynical they hurt. Not because songsmiths like Conor Oberst are the world-beaten lovers they want you to think they are, but because there’s such an immature sense of pragmatic malaise to lyrics like, “I’d rather be working for a paycheck than waiting to win the lottery.” When you ask a girl back because you can’t be bothered to look for anything better, you’re not in love—you’re an asshole.

“Hello It’s Me” by Todd Rundgren: It sounds romantic, doesn’t it? But do you really want to tell your sweetheart “Maybe I shouldn’t think of you as mine” or “I’ll come around to see you once in a while … and spend the night if you think I should”?

“(Sex) Love Is What We Makin’ ” by R. Kelly: Unless your beloved enjoys really dirty and potentially illegal sex, it’s generally a very bad idea to include any R. Kelly in your mix. This song takes the proverbial cake with verses like “I want sex in the morning / Sex in the evening / Sex in the noonday” followed with empty notions along the lines of “Baby girl, it’s OK because love is what we makin’.”

“My Baby Daddy” by B Rock and the Bizz: If you’re dumb enough to put this in a mix, you deserve to be single.

“My Wandering Days Are Over” by Belle & Sebastian: After years in the rat race of being single, this song’s protagonist finally gives up and decides to start fucking a friend because it’s convenient. Convenient is never romantic.

“New Slang” by the Shins: Because you’re not Zach Braff (for which you should be thankful).

“Red Hot Mama” by Funkadelic: Seem like a good idea to stick a little raunch in the mix? See “My Michelle” for why it’s not. You’d be better served by including “Alice in My Fantasies” from the same album. It has the most romantic line ever: “I’ll be your dog and you can be my tree and you can pee on me.”

“Take My Breath Away” by Berlin: This lush, sappy ballad is about how Teri Nunn, now that her world’s fallen apart and she’s lonely, finally deigns to give the guy who’s been lusting after her for years a chance to win her over. Wow, that’s sweet.

“Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd: What better valentine than a song about a friend who was so mentally unstable you kicked him out of your band? Anything.