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MACGOWAN & FAIRYTALE OF NEW YORK

What’s the greatest Christmas song of all time? Fairytale of New York!
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What’s the greatest Christmas song of all time? According to UK’s Magic Radio “12 Songs of Christmas” poll result in 2018: “Fairytale of New York” (The Pogues ft. Kirsty MacColl). It ranked above Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You” and Wham’s “Last Christmas”.

Written by Jem Finner and Shane MacGowan, it was voted the most popular Christmas song in the UK in 2018 in a survey by PRS for Music, despite not being a Christmas song, merely set at Christmas. In the UK it is the most-played Christmas song of the 21st Century.

The song has been subject to criticism in recent years for its lyric, sung by Kirsty MacColl: “You scumbag, you maggot, you cheap lousy faggot.” In 2018, Eoghan McDermott, a DJ for Irish national broadcaster RTE, had called for the lyric to be censored, arguing: “Enough vitriol out there without gay people having to feel uncomfortable so people that aren’t affected by an insult can tap their toe.” Pogues frontman Shane MacGowan responded, saying it was “not intended to offend … The word was used by the character because it fitted with the way she would speak and with her character … She is not supposed to be a nice person, or even a wholesome person. She is a woman of a certain generation at a certain time in history, and she is down on her luck and desperate.”

Kirsty MacColl and Shane MacGowan | Pic: BBC

Earlier in 2010, musical comedian Mitch Benn commented that “faggot” was Irish and Liverpudlian slang for a lazy person, and was unrelated to the derogatory term for homosexuals.

What Dorian Lynsky at The Guardian wrote about this boozy ballad pretty much sums it all up: “The kind of ‘anti-Christmas song’ that ended up being, for a generation, the Christmas song.”

I also included here a hauntingly beautiful cover of “Fairytale of New York” by Alban Fuam ft. Alison Medini.

Merry Christmas y’all! And happy birthday, Shane MacGowan! Let’s have a toast to the good music and wonderful Irish whiskey—Jameson Stout!

• Read also IRISH WHISKY, CELTIC PUNK, PADDY FOLK-ROCK, & REBEL MUSIC.

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Featured image via Financial Times.

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Rudolf Dethu

Rudolf Dethu

Music journalist, writer, radio DJ, socio-political activist, creative industry leader, and a qualified librarian, Rudolf Dethu is heavily under the influence of the punk rock philosophy. Often tagged as this country’s version of Malcolm McLaren—or as Rolling Stone Indonesia put it ‘the grand master of music propaganda’—a name based on his successes when managing Bali’s two favourite bands, Superman Is Dead and Navicula, both who have become two of the nation’s biggest rock bands.
Rudolf Dethu

Rudolf Dethu

Music journalist, writer, radio DJ, socio-political activist, creative industry leader, and a qualified librarian, Rudolf Dethu is heavily under the influence of the punk rock philosophy. Often tagged as this country’s version of Malcolm McLaren—or as Rolling Stone Indonesia put it ‘the grand master of music propaganda’—a name based on his successes when managing Bali’s two favourite bands, Superman Is Dead and Navicula, both who have become two of the nation’s biggest rock bands.

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RUDOLF DETHU

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