Fairytale Of New York is named Britain’s favourite Christmas song


Fairytale Of New York has been named Britain’s top ten favourite Christmas song – despite controversy surrounding a homophobic slur in its lyrics.

The festive hit, performed by The Pogues and featuring Kristy MacColl, was released in 1987, but never managed to reach the No.1 spot in the charts.

However, it has now beaten Mariah Carey and Wham! to be crowned top Xmas choice for Britons, according to a YouGov survey, where respondents were asked to write their own answer rather than choose from a list. 

It comes after a censorship row in November which saw the BBC change some of the Pogues’ lyrics – including the word ‘fag**t’. 

As a result, Radio 1 is broadcasting an alternative version of the song in the run-up to this Christmas to avoid offending younger audiences who are ‘particularly sensitive’ to the original’s ‘stark’ language. The word ‘sl*t’ will be muted, and MacColl will sing ‘haggard’ rather than ‘fag**t’

Fairytale Of New York by The Pogues, featuring Kirsty MacColl, has been named Britain’s top ten favourite Christmas song – despite controversy surrounding a homophobic slur in its lyrics. (Above, MacColl with Pogues frontman Shane MacGowan circa 1987)

BRITAIN’S FAVOURITE CHRISTMAS SONGS
Rank  Song name  Artiste/Band Percentage of vote
1 Fairytale Of New York The Pogues, featuring Kirsty MacColl  17% 
2 All I Want For Christmas Is You  Mariah Carey  8%
Last Christmas  Wham!  7% 
White Christmas  Bing Crosby (among others)  6% 
Merry Christmas Everybody  Slade  5% 
Silent Night  (traditional, various)  5% 
Driving Home For Christmas  Chris Rea (among others)  4% 
I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday  Wizzard  3% 
O Holy Night  (traditional, various)  2% 
10  I Believe In Father Christmas  Greg Lake  2% 
Source: YouGov
Fairytale is the top Xmas choice for Britons, according to a YouGov survey (above), where respondents were asked to write their own answer rather than choose from a list. It comes after a censorship row in November which saw the BBC change some of the Pogues' lyrics - including the word 'fag**t'

Fairytale is the top Xmas choice for Britons, according to a YouGov survey (above), where respondents were asked to write their own answer rather than choose from a list. It comes after a censorship row in November which saw the BBC change some of the Pogues’ lyrics – including the word ‘fag**t’

All I Want For Christmas Is You, by Mariah Carey (above) came second with 8% of the votes. Her 1994 upbeat smash remains the most popular with younger Britons, winning 24% of the vote among those aged 18 to 24

All I Want For Christmas Is You, by Mariah Carey (above) came second with 8% of the votes. Her 1994 upbeat smash remains the most popular with younger Britons, winning 24% of the vote among those aged 18 to 24

Fairytale received 17% of the votes – a nine percentage point lead over second-placed All I Want For Christmas Is You, by Mariah Carey.

Her 1994 upbeat smash remains the most popular with younger Britons, winning 24% of the vote among those aged 18-24. 

Meanwhile, George Michael’s Last Christmas (during his time with Wham!) came in at number 3, with 7% – increasing to 13% among those 18-24. 

White Christmas by Bing Crosby comes in fourth place (6%) closely followed by Merry Christmas Everybody, originally by Slade, tied with Silent Night – both on 5%. 

George Michael's Last Christmas (during his time with Wham!) came in at number 3, with 7% - increasing to 13% among those aged 18 to 24

George Michael’s Last Christmas (during his time with Wham!) came in at number 3, with 7% – increasing to 13% among those aged 18 to 24

Slade, above, scored their festive hit in 1973

Bonnie Tyler performs a rendition of Silent Night with a choir in 1998

Merry Christmas Everybody, originally released by Slade (left) in 1973, tied with Silent Night both on 5%. (Right, Bonnie Tyler performs a rendition of Silent Night with a choir in 1998)

In sixth place is Driving Home For Christmas, first popularly covered by Michael Bublé but originally by Chris Rea. It netted 4% of the vote.

I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday [sic], by Wizzard, is the preferred festive tune for 3%, and 2% opt for O’ Holy Night and I Believe In Father Christmas, by Greg Lake.

The genesis of Fairytale Of New York reportedly dates back to a bet that the singers could not create a Christmas tune that was not ‘slushy’, according to music magazine NME.

The song’s story begins with an Irish immigrant being tossed into a ‘drunk tank’ to sleep off a Christmas Eve binge.

While doing so, he hears an old man sing an Irish ballad called The Rare Old Mountain Dew. 

Amongst other things, the lyrics touch on gambling (‘Got on a lucky one. Came in eighteen to one’.)

Yet, despite the song being so popular, we still haven’t quite learnt all the words, with Fairytale Of New York lyrics being Googled 22,000 times a month on average.  

Commenting on the research, Connor Ibbetson, data journalist at YouGov said: ‘This Christmas, Brits show Fairytale of New York to be their favourite classic Christmas song, despite recent controversy over BBC Radio 1’s decision to play an edited version of the song this year. 

‘The 1988 classic has a nine-percentage-point lead over second-placed All I Want for Christmas which recently hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart 25 years after it was first released.’

White Christmas by Bing Crosby (far left) comes in fourth place, with 6% in the YouGov survey

White Christmas by Bing Crosby (far left) comes in fourth place, with 6% in the YouGov survey

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