Friday, October 24, 2014

Festive Fifty Tips: The Longlist

This is going to be one of a series of probably two posts about the Festive Fifty which is a series of three podcasts that I put together in association with the Contrast Podcast every year idealistically publishing it over the last three weeks of the year (though usually it's in the first month or two of the new year)

Basically, you send in a list of 50 songs from the current year ranked from 1 to 50 (the "longlist") and then I tabulate all of those votes into a list of 100 songs (the "shortlist"). You will then vote on your favorite 10 songs from that list (with the option to "downvote" one song in addition to your list of 10). I compile those votes into a list of Fifty songs. Then I ask people to introduce a song or two. Then I make it into three podcasts and we all enjoy it!

I often hear about people who feel like they didn't get any songs they liked on the Festive Fifty. Usually, it's that none of the 50 songs they submitted made the 100 song shortlist. So I decided to let you in on some of the behind-the-scenes stuff and the kinds of things I see when I'm tabulating results to maybe help you "game the system" as it were. I am not sure if the system will change if everyone tries to game it, but I suppose we shall see.

1) Song Ranking

In a perfect world, you'd make your long list of 50 songs in order of preference. #1 would be your favorite song of the year and #50 would be your 50th favorite song of the year.  But what usually happens is that 5 or 6 songs get LOTS of votes and the rest get one or two people voting for them.

My first recommendation for getting your songs on the Festive Fifty is to put the songs that you feel like everyone might vote for below songs that you think you might be in the minority of liking. So, for instance, I really liked KONGOS's song "Come With Me Now" this year, but I have a feeling I'm not alone in this. So I will put that song in the teens or even 20's (depending on how popular I think the song is) and I'll put more obscure songs above it.

Now, there are problems with this. You're risking being wrong about the popularity of a song and having a song you love not make the list.

There's also the issue of having a list of 50 songs that are ALL obscure. To those people, I would just offer my best wishes and point out that people following my advice might level the playing field a little and make it more feasible for your songs to make the shortlist!

2) Artist Limit

One of the rules that I implemented a couple years ago is the Artist Limit rule. If, for example, St. Vincent has 4 songs that are in the Top 100 songs from the Longlist Votes, only the top 2 will make the Shortlist. The other 2 will be cut and the songs below them will be moved up.

This is where I'm torn. I could advise you to therefore limit your votes to only two songs per artist so that you aren't diluting your vote among many songs. But I could also advise you to put as many songs as you'd like by an artist into your longlist, so that any songs that anyone else voted for will get a boost from your vote. I'm not sure which way is better, so that'll have to be up to you.

So that's my advice for the longlist vote. It's not much, but hopefully it can help you when you're constructing your longlist! When we get closer to Shortlist Voting time, I'll post some tips for that!

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