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Warner Music creates new radio edit of Fairytale Of New York, to the annoyance of homophobia fans

By | Published on Friday 20 November 2020

Fairytale Of New York

Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat! You probably can’t even say that now can you? What if the fat geese are offended? Bloody hell, what a bunch of snowflakes. That’s how it goes though, isn’t it?

Anyway, as noted, the festive season is approaching, so it’s time once again to have an argument about whether or not saying the word ‘faggot’ in a pop song is appropriate in this day and age. The answer is, it depends, context is everything, and you really shouldn’t get angry if people decide it’s not.

Yeah, so, ‘The Fairytale Of New York’ by The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl – the undisputed greatest Christmas song of all time – is in the news again due to its more unsavoury lyrics. Specifically the words ‘faggot’ and ‘slut’. This debate is whipped up every year now as a way to alert the general public to the fact that they should probably be thinking about buying Christmas presents soon. Oh, and also to remind people who like giving the BBC a good kicking to give the BBC a good kicking.

The Beeb has been trying to find an answer to whether and how the song should be censored for more than a decade – first cutting out the word ‘faggot’ in 2007, but later returning it to the song. This year it’s decided to look at the issue across different demographics and act accordingly.

So, on Radio 1, where the station’s younger audience are apparently more likely to be offended by the offending words, an edited version will be used. On Radio 2, where older listens generally aren’t fussed about that sort of thing, the original will be played. And on 6 Music, it will be up to individual presenters to decide.

“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”, says the BBC in a statement.

Fair enough, you might say. Or you might not, if you believe that such words should always be censored, regardless of who is listening. Or, more likely, if you for some reason have decided that everyone should be forced to listen to words that you think are just fine, regardless of whether or not they want to or not. You probably tweeted something like that shortly after calling ‘WAP’ “disgusting”, didn’t you?

Two years ago, the writer of ‘Fairytale’, Shane MacGowan, said that his intention had never been to offend, but to make sure that the language used by the two characters in the lyrics was true to 1940s New York, where the song is set. But he also agreed that awareness of this intention may have been lost over time.

“Sometimes characters in songs and stories have to be evil or nasty in order to tell the story effectively”, he said. However, “if people don’t understand that I was trying to accurately portray the character as authentically as possible then I am absolutely fine with them bleeping the word”.

So he’d be fine with bleeping. Actually, there won’t be any bleeps on the BBC, because a decent amount of effort has gone into creating a ‘faggot’ free radio edit with Warner Music creating a new version using a live performance of the song to replace the most offensive line. As a result, “you cheap lousy faggot” is replaced with “you’re cheap and you’re haggard”. So now there’s a whole new line that’s just as easy to sing along to but which maintains the malevolent spirit of the original.

Radio 1 has gone one step further and also removed the word ‘slut’, creating a radio edit of a radio edit. But, maybe, with the line that traditionally causes the annual hoo haa, everyone’s finally cracked it. Maybe we’ve found a way to deal with this song that no one can legitimately complain about!

Of course, that doesn’t mean they can’t and won’t complain. One-man outrage generator Laurence Fox has been complaining about it, for starters, because that appears to be his job. Although when he did so The Pogues responded on Twitter by telling him to “fuck off you little herrenvolk shite”. That’s a fancy way of calling him a Nazi, by the way. A little Christmas gift for you there.

Actually, I think we should be more upset that this argument seems to be arriving earlier than ever this year. It’s mid-November! It’s far too early to be getting upset about Christmas music. Although, according to the Official Charts Company, the pandemic has got people playing festive tunes early this year, with sales and streams 51% higher than at this point in 2019.

“After what has been a year to forget for the vast majority of us, it also seems to be the year when Christmas is starting earlier than ever – with Christmas songs surging stronger and earlier than we’ve ever seen in the past”, says OCC chief exec Martin Talbot. “This says volumes for the power of song – and Christmas songs in particular – to raise our spirits at even the most challenging of times”.

Well, in that case, let’s all raise our spirits now with the newly edited version of ‘Fairytale Of New York’:

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