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FESTIVE
50S

John selects records for the Festive 50John Peel's annual rundown of listeners' fifty favourite tracks of the year, 'The John Peel Festive 50' became a Christmas institution more loved than fairy lights and Christmas crackers.

Listeners of John's Radio 1 show picked the chart by voting for their three favourite tracks of the year before the end of November. The Festive 50 were then played on air.

John originally let listeners choose their all-time favourite three tracks for the 1976 chart. The Beatles, The Doors and Jimi Hendrix all cropped up in the run-down, even though the Beatles had split up and The Doors' lead singer Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix were dead by then. John counted the listeners' votes and compiled the chart himself.

He told the NME:

"It's really just me marking every single vote down in a ledger. There is obviously the temptation to slip something in that I like, especially if it's just outside the 50, and something crap has gone above it. But I have a very workman-like brain so it just wouldn't be on to fix it."

The all-time Festive 50 that first aired in 1976 was replaced by a year-only chart in 1982, but was briefly revived for the Millennium.

By 1986, the chart was overstuffed with listeners' top tracks of the year. John didn't like this at all, even though it contained many of his favourite artists, including seven tracks from The Smiths, seven by The Fall and four from The Wedding Present, as he felt that it was too predictable and unadventurous.

John wasn't always happy with what the listeners voted for and he was quoted as saying that he felt there were too many "white boys with guitars" making an appearance on the countdown.

The Festive 50 of 1991 was also known as the 'Phantom 50', because despite being voted for by listeners, it was not compiled by John until later in the year. This was because Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" predictably topped the chart, which featured none of the emerging rave and hardcore sounds John had featured and supported on that year's show.

The 1991 chart did eventually creep on to the air, however, but not until 1993. John played one track from the Festive 50 per show until the countdown was eventually complete.

The Phantom 50 wasn't the only hiccough in the annual chart's broadcast. In 1997, Peel broadcast only a 'Pretty Festive 31'. He had originally said that there wouldn't be a Festive 50 that year due to the lack of airtime that he had been given around Christmas, but listeners demanded one so he agreed to play a shortened version based on telephone votes. Cornershop's Brimful Of Asha came in at No 1.

Despite not always being too keen on the music his listeners voted for in the Festive 50, John admitted that he'd find it almost impossible to compile a list of his top three songs of the year himself, "I couldn't get any fewer than a list of 250," he said.



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