The Pogues' Shane MacGowan defends 'Fairytale of New York' lyrics after backlash

16 December 2019, 14:37 | Updated: 16 November 2022, 15:18

Shane MacGowan
Shane MacGowan. Picture: Getty

By Tom Eames

Shane MacGowan has hit back at critics who have called for 'Fairytale of New York' to be banned due to some of its lyrics.

The classic Pogues and Kirsty MacColl Christmas song has been the subject of a backlash in recent years, due to the use of the words "f*ggot" and "sl*t".

The Story of... 'Fairytale of New York'

Some DJs around the world have banned the song, with one presenter recently labelling it as “downmarket chav bilge.”

Speaking to Ryan Tubridy on Ireland’s The Late Late Show, MacGowan defended the song’s lyrics, before performing it with the full lyrics included.

The Fairytale Of New York on The Late Late Show.

“There is no political correctness to it,” MacGowan told Tubridy.

“I’ve been told it’s insulting to gays; I don’t understand how that works.”

When Tubridy pointed out how the world could be offensive, MacGowan replied: “Nobody in the band thinks that’s worth a second’s thought.”

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MacGowan previously defended the song in a longer statement, explaining that the lyrics suited the female character in the song.

“The word was used by the character because it fitted with the way she would speak and with her character,” he said.

“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.”

The Pogues - Fairytale Of New York (Official Video)

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He continued: “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.

“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.”

Meanwhile, another Christmas song that has been criticised in recent years is 'Baby It's Cold Outside', with John Legend recently updating the song to reflect the #MeToo movement.