The process of making a mix CD was an important and carefully thought out procedure. A lot of planning was involved, a good amount of time, and of course, big decisions.
Is that Backstreet Boys song going to come on after that *NSYNC song, or should I separate them with some Spice Girls in between?
Or are you supposed to try and download some cool new songs and risk wasting space for things you end up hating?
It's a lot to think about that kids today just will never know. Here were all the questions that would run through our minds.
1. How many songs could you fit on the CD?
It always depended, of course, how long the songs were, but trying to make your own mix CD was such a process.
You would have to open up Windows Media Player and create a playlist, and hope that the time it said it was would fit onto the length of CD you bought.
Because if you miscalculate, even by just one single minute, the entire CD was going to fail and your last thirty minutes were totally wasted.
You also had to consider how you were going to fit all the names of the songs onto the CD, because you know we did that.
Do you know how many CDs I tried to make? Do you know how many times I messed up and tried to squish too many songs on one CD? Do you know how many hours I wasted? Too many and I know I can't be the only one.
2. How do you make the perfect song list?
It's hard to choose what the songs will be to start, and then even more difficult to figure out the proper order.
A lot of us were stuck on dial-up at the time, so it wasn't like we were downloading hundreds of songs, so our choices were limited to what we already owned on CD.
Even though we owned the CD, sometimes you wanted just that one song off of it so you obviously needed an awesome mix, but how do you join all these unique and wonderful songs together?
So much time wasted on trying to make everything flow together perfectly when honestly, did it really matter?
3. Is anyone else going to ever listen to this CD?
Here's the thing, we all have our guilty pleasure music. It's the songs we want to listen to, but maybe not the ones we want our friends to know we like.
Boy bands were often a guilty pleasure in the early 2000s when making CDs started getting really popular, because we were considered "too old" for them, but let's be honest, they were awesome.
So the way to hide your undying love of Backstreet Boys was to just sneak "Quit Playing Games With My Heart" on a blank CD with nothing written on it. No one will ever know. It's so inconspicuous while it sits in your CD wallet.
The only downside was when you would accidentally start singing along on the bus. You kind of gave yourself away there, but you know what, be proud of your love of 90s boy bands, they are the best.
4. How many CDs to you have left in your CD tower?
We all used to buy these little CD towers full of blank CDs so we could make a bunch at a time, but then suddenly they would be gone.
It was this weird phenomenon where it would be the same number of CDs for what felt like ever, but then we'd go to try and copy our friends new Blink 182 CD and they were just out.
Of course then we had to convince our mom to buy us a new tower of blank CDs claiming they were "for school" or save up our allowance to buy one.
5. Do you owe a friend a CD?
CDs were almost like currency. Not everyone had the same music collection, so sometimes you would have to ask your friend to make you a CD and just promise that you would buy the next one you both wanted so you could share.
It was always annoying if you ended up being the one always giving out the CDs though, so you had to make sure you would get some in return.
Although if someone was nice enough to give you the blank CD to copy it onto, it wasn't the end of the world. Sure, musicians probably hate that, but listen, we were kids and had no money.
6. Do you have enough room in your CD wallet for another CD?
This may not sound like a concern, especially to kids now, but imagine if you could only carry 12 of your CDs around now!
While it's easy to have access to millions of songs at the touch of a button now, when we were young we had to decide at the beginning of the day what we wanted to listen to.
That's why mix CDs were so important, because then you could get a little bit of everything, but what happens when your collection starts to get too big?
Yeah, you can buy a bigger CD wallet, but then you're going to have to figure out how to fit that in your already full backpack and honestly, who has the energy?
You have to make some very important choices as to which CDs you want on you at all times, and when you make the wrong choice you know it.
7. Is that one downloaded song going to actually work?
When downloading music started to be a thing, we all tried it. But there was a bit of a risk involved.
First of all, you were 100% going to end up with 300 viruses every time you tried to download something.
Second of all, the songs didn't always actually turn out to be what they said. I don't know if it was a weird prank that the people were trying to pull, or if they honestly just didn't know the difference between different singers, but there were so many mislabeled songs.
Third of all, the volume of the song was going to be a total gamble. Sometimes the quality was absolutely perfect, just like you had the CD, but other times you'd end up with a version that sounded like someone used the built in microphone to record it off of the radio.
I actually had a few songs downloaded that literally had a commercial start playing at the end of them. It was a wild time.
Sure, we had it easier than the kids before us who had to make tapes, but this was still a lot of work! When was the last time you made a mix CD?
Did you know there is a scientific reason why you still love the music you did as a kid? I mean, other than the fact that it was just the absolute best?
That explains why my love of the Backstreet Boys has endured decades, even though some of their music videos are absolutely wild.