Revealed: Britain's favourite Christmas song

Emily Cleary
·3-min read
Singers Kirsty MacColl (1959 - 2000) and Shane MacGowan with with toy guns and an inflatable Santa in a festive scenario, circa 1987. In 1987, the pair collaborated on the Pogues' Christmas song 'Fairytale of New York'. (Photo by Tim Roney/Getty Images)
Kirsty MacColl and Shane MacGowan first performed Fairytale of New York in 1987 - the song has been named the nation's favourite Chrstmas song in a YouGov poll (Tim Roney/Getty Images)

Christmas classic Fairytale of New York has been named the nation’s favourite festive song in a poll published on Friday.

Research carried out by YouGov shows that the 32-year-old duet is a clear favourite.

The 1987 classic never hit number one in the UK but received the backing of 17% of those who have a favourite festive song– a nine-percentage point lead on the second most popular song, Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas, which also failed to hit the top spot when released.

Carey’s song came in second place with 8% of the vote. However the track did prove the most popular with younger Britons, winning 24% of the vote among those aged 18-24.

A YouGov surveyed asked more than 1,200 UK adults what their favourite Christmas song was - and here are the results (YouGov)
A YouGov surveyed asked more than 1,200 UK adults what their favourite Christmas song was - and here are the results (YouGov)

Narrowly reaching third place was Last Christmas, released by George Michael and Wham! in 1985, with 7% of votes.

Last Christmas was beaten to the Number 1 spot in the charts by Band Aid’s Do They Know It’s Christmas, written to raise money for the Ethiopian famine appeal. Wham! also donated all royalties from their song to the same appeal. The ballad was the most-played Christmas song of the 21st century in the UK until it was overtaken by Fairytale of New York in 2015

Live Aid dual venue benefit concert held on 13th July 1985 at Wembley Stadium in London, England, and the John F Kennedy Stadium in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States, the concerts were organised as a follow up to the Band Aid single 'Do They Know Its Christmas?', the brainchild of Bob Geldof and Midge Ure, to raise money for victims of the famine in Ethiopia,Picture shows Wham duo Andrew Ridgeley and George Michael watching the concert at Wembley. (Photo by Mike Maloney/Daily Mirror/Mirrorpix/Getty Images)
80s due Wham! released Last Christmas in December 1985 but were held off the Number 1 spot by Band Aid's Do They Know It's Christmas. The pair donated all proceeds from the sale of their Christmas hit to the Live Aid charity(Mike Maloney/Daily Mirror/Mirrorpix/Getty Images)

Fairytale of New York hit the headlines in November this when the BBC announced it would censor several lyrics for fear of offending listeners.

A statement said: “We know the song is considered a Christmas classic and we will continue to play it this year, with our radio stations choosing the version of the song most relevant for their audience.”

In recent years, people have spoken out about the lines referring to “an old slut on junk” and “cheap lousy f*****”, saying it is not appropriate, although 63% of respondents in a separate YouGov poll said Radio 1’s decision was wrong.

Pogues frontman Shane MacGowan has previously defended the use of the lyrics, saying in 2018 that it was meant to represent the "down on her luck" character but was "not intended to offend”.

Actor Lawrence Fox slammed the BBC for deciding to ‘bleep’ sections of the song, saying: “The cultural commissars at the BBC are telling you what is and isn’t appropriate for your ignorant little ears. Wouldn’t it be nice if we sent the (proper) version to the top of the charts?”

However, The Pogues hit back on Twitter, replying to Fox saying: “F*** off you little herrenvolk sh***.”

Watch: Shane MacGowan says Fairytale Of New York is not insulting

The Irving Berlin-composed White Christmas, which has been performed by artists including Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and Michael Bublé, received 6% of the vote to come in at fourth place in the YouGov poll, closely followed by Merry Christmas Everybody, originally by Slade, tied with Bing Crosby’s Silent Night both on 5%.

At sixth came Chris Rea’s Driving home for Christmas - also recently covered by Bublé - which netted 4% of the vote.

I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday was the preferred festive tune for 3%, and 2% opt for O’ Holy Night and I Believe in Father Christmas

Britons tastes in Christmas music are extensive however, with other respondents’ answers including everything from Coldplay, to Elvis, and even the Fountains of Wayne.

YouGov said: “Britons tastes in Christmas music are extensive... with other respondents’ answers including everything from Coldplay, to Elvis, and even the Fountains of Wayne.”

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