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Radio 2 changes decision on airing Fairytale Of New York's offensive slur

Joe Harker

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Radio 2 changes decision on airing Fairytale Of New York's offensive slur

It's December, and that means everyone holding back their mighty tide of festive joy for the sake of decency and decorum can finally open the floodgates.

You can now wear your Christmas jumper, stick on The Muppet Christmas Carol as many times as you want and listen to all the Christmas music your heart desires.

Of course, that means it's also time for the same seasonal arguments to rear their heads such as whether Die Hard is a Christmas movie, or if the lyrics to 'Baby It's Cold Outside' are sexist.

One of these most popular debates rages around what might be the most popular Christmas song of all time, 'Fairytale of New York' by The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl.

It's one of the most iconic songs of all time and a real favourite whenever people get drunk enough this time of year to decide they'll have a crack at karaoke.

However, there's one line in the song some people reckon should be censored and you can probably already guess which one it is.

That's right, it's the part where Kirsty MacColl sings 'you scumbag, you maggot, you cheap lousy f****t', which causes some obvious problems as that's a homophobic slur.

In recent years plenty of broadcasters have decided to play a censored version of the song, swapping the offending lyric out for 'you're cheap and you're haggard' by cleverly splicing in some audio of MacColl singing a revised version.

Kirsty MacColl and the Pogues worked on one of the greatest Christmas songs of all time. Credit: Everett Collection Inc / Alamy Stock Photo
Kirsty MacColl and the Pogues worked on one of the greatest Christmas songs of all time. Credit: Everett Collection Inc / Alamy Stock Photo

At the karaoke microphone, a lot of people like singing 'you taped over Taggart' as a funnier replacement.

Radio 2 is the latest broadcaster to make the switch, as it told HuffPostUK it had decided to play the censored version this Christmas, while other BBC radio stations will be able to 'choose the version of the song most relevant for their audience'.

They said: "On Radio 2 we are reflecting what we are hearing back from many of our listeners who love the song, but find some of the lyrics jarring in 2022, and playing an alternative version provided by the record company."

The BBC split opinion back in 2020 when Radio 1 decided to make the switch over to the censored version of 'Fairytale of New York' but Radio 2 continued with the original recording that some found offensive.

BBC Radio 2 have switched their stance and decided to play the censored version of 'Fairytale of New York'. Credit: dac / Alamy Stock Photo
BBC Radio 2 have switched their stance and decided to play the censored version of 'Fairytale of New York'. Credit: dac / Alamy Stock Photo

The Pogues lead singer Shane MacGowan previously defended the inclusion of the word 'f****t' in the iconic song, saying there's 'no political correctness to it'.

He said: "I've been told it's insulting to gays; I don't understand how that works. Nobody in the band thinks that's worth a second's thought.

"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.

"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."

While he goes for the uncensored version himself, MacGowan has absolutely no problem with people removing the lyric if they find it offensive as he's not interested in arguing about it.

Featured Image Credit: YouTube/ThePoguesOfficial

Topics: Christmas, Music, BBC, News, UK News

Joe Harker
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