Fairytale Of New York tops chart of most-played Christmas songs

Shane MacGowan and The Pogues perform on stage at the Carling Academy, in Brixton, south London, Tuesday 20 December 2005. PR
Shane MacGowan and The Pogues perform on stage at the Carling Academy, in Brixton, south London, Tuesday 20 December 2005. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Photo credit should read: Joel Ryan/PA

The Pogues’ classic anthem Fairytale Of New York has been revealed as the UK’s most-played Christmas song of the 21st century, beating tracks by Wham! and Mariah Carey.

The 1988 duet with late singer Kirsty MacColl, who was killed in a boating accident in 2000, has never been a number one.

However, it has now topped the chart of the top 40 most-played Christmas tracks of the 21st century compiled by music licensing company PPL, from music usage data around the UK.

Fleadh Kirsty MacColl
Kirsty MacColl was killed in a boating accident in 2000 (James Arnold/PA)

Carey’s festive All I Want For Christmas Is You – which topped the charts for the first time earlier this month – is second on the list, while Last Christmas by Wham! takes third place.

Meanwhile, Wizzard’s I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday and Chris Rea’s Driving Home For Christmas take fourth and fifth place respectively.

Steve Lillywhite, producer of Fairytale Of New York, said: “The term ‘timeless classic’ is reserved for very few records and, by definition, you need time to have passed to define this.

“I am very happy to have produced this timeless classic, although it’s tinged with sadness as Kirsty is no longer with us, but what a way to remember her every Christmas.”

The new chart is based on PPL data, compiled from music usage and airplay information from radio stations and television channels, as well as public performance locations such as pubs, clubs, bars, jukeboxes, and shops all across the UK.

Mariah Carey European tour
Mariah Carey (Ian West/PA)

It was broadcast on Christmas Day on BBC Radio 2 and will be available on BBC Sounds.

PPL chief executive Peter Leathem said: “During times of uncertainty and change, the music we know and love can provide comfort and support, through good memories as well as hope for the future.

“It is no surprise then that Christmas music has been broadcast and played earlier than ever this year, providing relief during the pandemic.

“This is a testament to the performers and recording companies who created it, and PPL is proud to support them via our royalty payments.

“Thank you to BBC Radio 2 for helping us celebrate these brilliant tracks, and we wish our performer and recording company members, our licensees and all music fans a merry Christmas and a brighter 2021.”

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