The Pogues' and Kirsty MacColl's "Fairytale of New York" is a certified Christmas classic, but did you know that it is also problematic? The song has come under fire because of the use of the word "f**got"—some want to bring attention to it so people won't singalong with that word anymore, some want the word bleeped out of the song entirely.
Singer Shane MacGowan has responded to the controversy about that particular verse, explaining that the reference was never intended to be homophobic but rather, in context, was part of a character study.
"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," MacGowan said in a statement. "Her dialogue is as accurate as I could make it but she is not intended to offend! She is just supposed to be an authentic character and not all characters in songs and stories are angels or even decent and respectable, sometimes characters in songs and stories have to be evil or nasty in order to tell the story effectively."
The Pogues shot the video in New York during Thanksgiving week. The air was bitterly cold and fairy lights twinkled in the trees. Matt Dillon played the NYPD officer who arrests MacGowan but he was too nervous to manhandle him until the shivering singer snapped: "Just kick the shit out of me and throw me in the cell and then we can be warm!" Contrary to the lyrics, the NYPD didn't have a choir, so Dougherty hired the force's pipe band instead. When it turned out that they didn't know Galway Bay, they mouthed the only lyrics they all knew: the Mickey Mouse Club chant.
Also, MacGowan apparently hates Christmas, which feels right (maybe it's because it's his birthday—he's 61 today!). Jimmy Fallon and Saoirse Ronan performed it on The Tonight Show a few years back (they omitted the controversial verse entirely):
If you're looking for more holiday-themed tunes for the day, Thom Yorke unveiled his own version of "Silent Night" the other night:
Spider-Man also released a holiday EP:
Who could forget NYC holiday classics like Run DMC's "Christmas In Hollis"?
Or Kanye West's underrated all-star tune "Christmas In Harlem."
This year feels ever-closer to a "Post Apocalypse Christmas:"
And of course, we all know that Bob Dylan released the greatest Christmas album of all time: