What’s On Your iPod: How to Size Up Your Dates by Their Playlists

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Anyone who has wasted hours at work on Facebook (you know who you are) has done a quiz or two about what the bands they like say about them, but have you ever considered sizing up potential dates this way? Courtney E. Smith, author of Record Collecting for Girls: Unleashing Your Inner Music Nerd, One Album at a Time (guys, you’d like it too), dedicates quite a bit of ink in her book to tackling this important subject. Since learning everything about a potential date before you actually meet them is vitally important (especially to music nerds), we bring you the scoop from Courtney.

HowAboutWe: First, what to watch out for: What bands/music say “run screaming?”

Courtney: There are two types of songwriters with whom an identification is a problem: the unreliable narrator or sad bastard music.

The unreliable narrators are the sorts of characters in songs by Leonard Cohen and The National. While their music is fantastic, the point of view is very self-centered and questionable. There are times in life it makes perfect sense, but if that is an on-going favorite of someone then you might not want to date them.

The sad bastards, those people who habitually listen to not just one sad band sometimes but all sad bands (the Smiths, the Cure, Bon Iver, Elliot Smith) all the time? They’re only going to bring you down.

And now, the good stuff: Is there any band or music that unequivocally signifies a person is awesome?

Yes, but that is almost entirely dictated by your own taste in music. Are you impressed when someone name checks obscure artists? Do you love when their record collection is just like yours? Nothing like yours? Their awesomeness is entirely in your head, so start asking them about their record collection and see if you think they’re awesome.

The one exception is Pulp: everyone who owns Pulp albums is automatically extremely cool and probably a really good dancer.

How important is it to have the same music taste as a potential date?

As important as you make it. I think it’s best to have enough in common to be able to talk about and listen to the same music, but both know enough different stuff to continue teaching each other. If you don’t have anything at all in common, musically, that creates a lot of uncommon ground to make up. It’s easier to have a somewhat mutual starting point. If not, then have a lot of patience.

Are there any hard and fast music and dating rules?

If you really like music, never date anyone who responds to the question, “So what kind of music do you like” by saying “everything.” Everything people don’t actually like music and they’ll drive you nuts.

If you’re not sure what to put on for a first make out, go with Otis Redding.

Finally, don’t try to seriously date anyone who is actually in a band.

iTunes investigation: Top Five Albums to Look For (are we still calling them albums?)

1. Anything by the Beatles —

    this band has sold over one billion records worldwide, therefore almost everyone should have one. Check out which one and if they don’t have any, ask them why. This should at least spur an interesting conversation. If they have no particular reason why, they are probably a sociopath.

2. Nirvana’s Nevermind —

    we are in the middle of a cultural resurgence for the ‘90s, with Nevermind as the key component of conversation. For many people it is a seminal album. Many others will tell you they prefer Pearl Jam or Hole or any number of grunge bands. Any which way, asking them about this album (or lack thereof) on their iPod is another great conversation starter.

3. Guilty pleasures

    — one unfair trick to guess a lady’s age is to look at her guilty pleasure tracks on the iPod. NKOTB? NSYNC? Jonas Brothers? Bieber? Yeah, you can guess the generation she’s actually in, if you’re in doubt.

4. Serge Gainsbourg —

    this is how you know if they’ve got game.

5. Marvin Gaye (as long as it isn’t ONLY Here My Dear) —

    this is how you know if they’ve got soul.

Tanya Edwards works for Food Network digital and writes for Glamour. She used to be married. Now she’s not. She loves dating. Follow her on Twitter @misstanya.