'Fairytale' named as true soundtrack of Christmas

 

It has been called the best festive song never to top the singles chart.

But the Pogues can now raise a glass of the hard stuff after "Fairytale of New York" was named the most-played Christmas song of the century.

The booze-soaked waltz, performed by Shane MacGowan and the late Kirsty MacColl as warring lovers, reached No2 when released in 1987, kept from the top spot by the Pet Shop Boys' cover of "Always on my Mind".

It has returned to the Christmas Top 20 on seven occasions, peaking at No3 in 2005 and 2007. This week the song is poised for another tilt at the top.

On its failure to become the Christmas No1 in 1987, MacGowan once ungenerously said: "We were beaten by two queens and a drum machine."

However, its elevation to modern standard has been confirmed by another chart compiled by the music licensing body PPL, which totals up every public airing a song has received – from radio and TV plays to being used as background music in shops, bars, gyms and restaurants – since 2000.

It has leapfrogged Wham's "Last Christmas" and Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas is You" to become the most-played festive song this century. It has even outperformed perennials such as Slade's "Merry Xmas Everybody" and Wizzard's "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday". The Pogues benefited this year from the song's use in a Tesco Christmas TV campaign.

Royalties from its airings have assisted MacColl's family in their campaign to uncover the truth about her death at the age of 41. She was hit by a boat while swimming in Mexico in 2000.

Voted the public's favourite Christmas song in a 2004 poll, "Fairytale of New York" attracted controversy over its use of the words "scumbag", "maggot" and "faggot". Radio 1 bleeped out "faggot" in 2007 to "avoid offence" but climbed down after complaints from listeners and MacColl's mother, Jean.

Since MacColl's death, The Pogues have continued to perform their tale of a drunken Irish immigrant's reverie using guest singers, including Katie Melua and Imelda May.

The 1980s are the most successful decade according to the PPL chart, providing more than half of the top 20 most popular festive tunes. They include Wham's "Last Christmas", Band Aid's "Do They Know It's Christmas?" and "The Power Of Love" by Frankie Goes To Hollywood, all from 1984, as well as Shakin' Stevens' "Merry Christmas Everyone" the following year.

The oldest recording, at No16, is Bing Crosby's "White Christmas", from 1942, while East 17's "Stay Another Day" and Carey's "All I Want For Christmas Is You" are the most recent, from 1994.

Jingle all the way: The 10 most-played festive hits

1. Fairytale of New York (1987), The Pogues

2. Last Christmas (1984), Wham!

3. All I Want for Christmas is You (1994), Mariah Carey

4. I Wish it Could be Christmas Everyday (1973), Wizzard

5. Do They Know it's Christmas? (1984), Band Aid

6. Merry Xmas Everybody (1973), Slade

7. Driving Home for Christmas (1988), Chris Rea

8. Step into Christmas (1973), Elton John

9. The Power of Love (1984), Frankie Goes To Hollywood

10. Merry Christmas Everyone (1985), Shakin' Stevens

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Wonder.land Musical by Damon Albarn

Theatre

Arts and Entertainment

Film review

Arts and Entertainment
Innocent victim: Oli, a 13-year-old from Cornwall, featured in ‘Kids in Crisis?’
TV review
News
Northern exposure: social housing in Edinburgh, where Hassiba now works in a takeaway
books An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop
Arts and Entertainment
Terminator Genisys: Arnie remains doggedly true to his word as the man who said 'I'll be back', returning once more to protect Sarah Connor in a new instalment

 

film review
Arts and Entertainment

festivals
Arts and Entertainment

Final Top Gear review

TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Carl Barat perform at Glastonbury 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Richie performs live on the Pyramid stage during the third day of Glastonbury Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Williamson, left, and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods
musicYou are nobody in public life until you have been soundly insulted by Sleaford Mods
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dew (Jess) in Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
theatreReview: Bend It Like Beckham hits back of the net on opening night
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

    'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

    If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
    The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

    The science of swearing

    What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
    Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

    Africa on the menu

    Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
    Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

    Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

    The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
    10 best statement lightbulbs

    10 best statement lightbulbs

    Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
    Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

    It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
    Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

    Dustin Brown

    Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
    Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test
    Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

    Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

    Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
    John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

    Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

    'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
    Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

    Forget little green men

    Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
    Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

    Dying dream of Doctor Death

    Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy