By Mark Nobes

Quite possibly, the best Christmas song of all time, the Irish folk ballad "Fairytale Of New York" by The Pogues, reached #2 in the UK (#1 in Ireland) in 1987. It was kept off the top spot by Pet Shop Boys cover of Always On My Mind.

The festive tune featured on the album If I Should Fall from Grace with God, and was originally planned as a duet with the Pogues' bassist Cait O'Riordon, but he left the band in 1986 before the song was finished! Kirsty MacColl was asked to sing a guide vocal, but she was so good that she ended up singing in the final version.

The song was penned by Pogues band members Jeremy "Jen" Finer and Shane MacGowen and released on 23rd November 1987. The creation of the song proved to be difficult and actually started in 1985, taking two years to get to its final state, with many rewrites and re-recordings along the way. 

The B-side on all versions of the original single included the track "The Battle March Medley" written by Terry Woods. The 12", cassette and CD singles included a third track penned by Shane MacGowan entitled "Shanne Bradley".

The video was filmed in New York during Thanksgiving week in November 1987. The close-up of hands playing the piano near the start of the video actually features the hands of pianist James Fearnley who is wearing Shane MacGowan's jewellery, ans MacGowan couldn't play the piano. 

The Pogues ft. Kirsty Maccoll

Fairytale of New York vinyl sleeve (25th anniversary edition from 2012)

By January 2023, the single had spent 119 weeks in the UK chart and is the most played Christmas song in the 21st century.

Scroll down the page to see a Top Of The Pops performance.

Recent Chart Positions

25 Dec 2016 #13

23 Dec 2016 #15

29 Dec 2017 #5

28 Dec 2018 #4

27 Dec 2019 #4

11 Dec 2020 #4

31 Dec 2021 #4

16 Dec 2022 #9

Shane MacGowan and Kirsty MacColl singing at the piano.