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Sir, mix a lot
Create CD compilations for every occasion

By Danielle Komis Palmer · 340-2447

The season of shorter hours and colder weather has arrived, along with the annual retreat inside.

But instead of lounging on the couch, now is a great time to do something productive and fun like making a mixed compact disc. Mixed CDs can be your salvation on an upcoming holiday road trip, your comfort after a harsh break-up or your key to throwing a party where people will actually dance.

But before you jump into your music library, pay attention to some quick tips that will help you make a rockin' compilation every time.

Know your audience: If you're creating a CD for a party that will include people of all ages, avoid foul language so you don't offend someone. Also, don't alienate the people who will be listening to the tunes.

Decatur music junkie Andy Berenbak said he usually tries to cater his music to his listeners and "throw that type of music" in the mix. Berenbak, assistant manager at FYE in Decatur, creates daily playlists that play in the store and also makes them for road trips and parties. "If it's a group of people who don't like the same type of music, then I'll pick a little here and a little there," he said.

Don't forget to transition: Placing Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You" right before Kanye West's "Gold Digger" may startle you and your audience when you listen to the CD, so try to avoid vast changes in tone, rhythm, genre and artist. "I keep it at the same pace or build it up or slow it down," Berenbak said. "I start off simple and slowly build."

Grouping songs: Try to adhere to a theme for each mix. For example, group a bunch of upbeat songs for a mix that will keep you awake on a long nighttime car trip, suggested Anna Brooke Higdon of Decatur. "I think it's good to keep you awake and in a good mood," she said. The teenage singer and her father both love making their own mixes. Or, if you're interweaving songs for a party, plenty of current hip-hop numbers will usually appeal to a wide audience.

Here are some classic mix ideas to get your creative disc jockey juices flowing:

The Road Trip Mix

A lively mix of well-loved anthems, old-school hits and sing-along songs are necessary for friends embarking on a road trip. For this mix, be especially careful to cater to your audience or they could turn on you quickly. Otherwise, you could find yourself stranded at a truck stop with only a shriveled corn dog and a Red Bull energy drink to keep you company.

Classic choices (provided you’re not dealing with indie music snobs):

Tom Petty, “Free Fallin’ ”

Sheryl Crow, “Everyday is a Winding Road”

The Eagles, “Take it Easy”

Prince, “Little Red Corvette”

Bonus track: Vanilla Ice, “Ice Ice Baby.” This one-hit wonder can be the pick-me-up a driver needs to keep himself from dozing off and and slobbering on the seat belt.

The Breakup Mix

A depressing combination that calls for every song that speaks of love lost and spurned hearts. Don’t forget any song that you and your ex considered making “our song.”

Classic choices:

Radiohead, “Creep”

Alanis Morissette, “You Oughta Know”

Damien Rice, “Volcanoes”

Celine Dion, “All by Myself”

Bonus track: The ballad your lost love sang and recorded for you that now feels like a dagger in your heart.

The Party Mix

A bunch of people are headed for your apartment expecting a party. So what beats will keep the party going and, more importantly, keep people from asking, “What are we listening to?” Being called out at your own party is always a downer, so stick to the safe route of current hip-hop and rap songs with upbeat tempos.

Classic choices:

Kanye West, “Stronger”

Gwen Stefani, “Hollaback Girl”

T-Pain, featuring Akon “Bartender”

Lumidee, “Neave Leave You” (Uh Oh)”

Bonus track: Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal.” This song is a fun change for partygoers who don’t love hip-hop, but is intense and well-known enough to keep the party going.

‘Free-to-be-Me’ Mix

The great thing about this mix? No one needs to know you own it. It’s perfect for solo drives or other alone times. Here is a chance to indulge in embarrassing songs you’d never admit you like, or listen to your style of music that your friends aren’t into. If you’re a closet fan of Broadway musicals, then your mix might have the theme “Musical Mania,” for example.

Classic choices (for a closet Broadway musical lover):

“Phantom of the Opera,” “Angel of Music”

“Chicago,” “All that Jazz”

“Oklahoma,” “I Can’t Say No”

“Fiddler on the Roof,” “Sunrise, Sunset”

Bonus track: “The Sound of Music,” “My Favorite Things.” Obnoxious, yes, but addicting enough to pass the time on the road more quickly.

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