Fairytale of New York – The Pogues, featuring Kirsty MacColl – 1987
According to various sources, Fairytale of New York is the most popular Christmas song of the twenty-first century in the UK, which confounds me because I’ve never been much of a fan, and I like to think I have my finger on the pulse of the nation. I have a real love/hate relationship with this song, but there’s also no real doubt that most people seem to love it, so I seem to be in the minority.
On the one hand there should be no doubt about it: Fairytale of New York is a terrible Christmas song. Shane MacGowan has a horrible voice, and the lyrics and story of the narrative – while interesting and clever – are downright depressing. Kirsty MacColl does her best to balance the scales, but even that Irish jig can’t save it.
On the other hand, I genuinely don’t mind listening to it at Christmas (which, in fairness, is the only time it’s played on the radio). In a strange, oxymoronic kind of way, it does put the jingle in my bells… but I’m thankful that I don’t have to hear it other than the month leading up to December 25th.