I wrote a similar thread to this last year which received close to zero interest.
As I pointed out then, as a way of making myself feel better, it was kind of fitting since not that many people bothered with Festive 50 in the last few years. As I also pointed out last year, this is not meant to represent what Peel would have played on his shows but rather that strange subset - what the John Peel wingding's relatively conservative listenership would have voted for. Sure, the occasional cut of Warpy braindance, semi-ironic happy-hardcore or novelty sampletronica made an appearance but, let's face it, 90% of the chart was what Peel would often bemoan "white boys with guitars."
So, on to this year then. It's not been a great year for singles or albums and the Festive 50 would've been lacking it's two Grand Poobahs since neither Mark E Smith or David Gedge released new records this year. I doubt Peel, or his listeners, would have been that impressed with the nu-electroclash revival this year. After all, Ladytron, Clinic, Melys et al sated that nostalgic thirst years ago. God Help The Girl may have reminded John just why Peelacres and Belle & Sebastian had a trial separation in the early-noughties and I doubt Darren Hayman's bluegrass pastiche would have caused any excitement. Having said that, the Hayman-endorsed Springsteen covers project may have picked up some votes since Ballboy's 'Born In The USA' and Electrelane's 'I'm On Fire' were big Peel faves a few years ago.
I'm sure John would've been an advocate of The Twilight Sad, despite an underwhelming second record - Fat Cat Records were always welcome on the Cats Caravan. Perhaps their inspired and stripped-down cover version of The Wedding Present's Suck would have featured in the countdown. Anything that translates slightly-misogynistic Gedgian into a Scottish folk would've had the backing of The Peel Team and The Nabs.
A handful of labels, previously endorsed by Peel, were prolific this year. The Too Pure singles club produced some interesting seven inches - the straight forward buddyrock shambolica of The Crookes or indiefolk darlings Peggy Sue could have got the nod and the Great Pop Supplement cranked out some gorgeous neo-folk vinyl, always beautifully cut and packaged. GPS may have replaced Static Caravan as Peel's label-of-choice this year - "beautiful packaging… it shouldn't matter, but it kind of does" as the great man once said. Grimey dubstep from the basement seems to have entered that phase where it's all about creepy film samples and jazz hints - drum and bass went through a similar period half-way through her lifecycle - but The Black Acre record label produced some dense and heavy platters this year.
Anyway, enough rambling, here's the Top 5…
1. John Peel Roadshow - HELEN LOVE (Elefant)
It had to be... right? The Love's loveable brand of gabbapunkpop was always championed by Peel and with a minor celebrity fanbase, including Dave Gorman and Phil Jupitus, this may have had some important outside exposure. For all his modesty, John did enjoy references to himself and his family in the music he loved - the mighty hardcore majesty of 'John Peel Is Not Enough' by CLSM (number 9 in 2003) and the omnichord homage to his wife Shelia, 'Pig Might Fly' by The High Fidelity spring instantly to mind. This b-side, to 'Calm Down Dad', would've been a fitting number one.
2. This Tornado Loves You - NEKO CASE (Anti)
One of the biggest Peel-related mysteries was why, following her Festive 50 number one in 2000 with 'Twist The Knife', John was left unmoved by Neko Case's follow up album. He never properly explained it on air yet to these ears, Blacklisted is just as achingly crucial as Furnace Room Lullaby, if not more so. Despite this I hope Fox Confessor... would've reignited John's passion for the real Queen of Country and although the latest album is overly-polished, it may have spawned a couple of entries this year.
3. Nasty Rabbits – SHITMAT (Planet Mu)
There may have been enough tunes, at the expense of the usual daft, impenetrable tomfoolery, to finally win over the listeners with Shitty’s awesome back-to-basics ‘One Foot In The Rave’ platter. This cut may have received maximum airplay thanks to the title – an open goal for many a classic Peel segue for other songs featuring Rabbits in the title. It also contains a version of the Amen loop that appears to be lifted straight from another Peel favourite – Stepping Stone by The Farm (though it’s probably Mantronix really).
4. I Hear You’re The Man Now, John – THE JUST JOANS (weePOP!)
Split single on new obscure label – tick. Garish pink vinyl – tick. Helping fill the quota of ‘self-deprecating twindiepop, sung in a broad Scottish accent’ – tick. Has a name related to the Peel team in the title – tick. There’s too many things going for this record for it not to make a strong appearance. And, with the line “In school you were ugly but now you’ve turned stud-ly” one of the lyrics of the year.
5. Cinema Vs House - THE BROKEN FAMILY BAND (Cooking Vinyl)
Ah, Cooking Vinyl, the place where indie bands see out their last days. The end of an era really, since BFB were one of the last bands that Peely nurtured from a first demo. What he would’ve made of Steve Adams and co’s transition from Cambridge country to straight-forward indierock, we’ll never know. I’d like to think he would’ve stuck by them since the standard of song-writing remained so high. This meditation on what to do for a date was the stand-out from the band’s final album - a high entry out of loyalty and respect for a band who were Peel through-and-through.
Er, that's it. Be happy to know what Peel fans think...
Happy New Year!