Christmas bonus for MacGowan from Fairytale of New York

The Pogues Fairytale of New York

Shane MacGowan of the Pogues is set to cash in to the tune of €450,000 as his classic hit Fairytale of New York dominates the airwaves again this Christmas.

The festive season is a big-money earner for the select few bands with evergreen Christmas songs that are revived every year.

Fairytale of New York, which MacGowan co-wrote with Jem Finer in 1987, is second on the list of most played Christmas songs in the UK. That means that MacGowan and Finer get paid a staggering €450,000 every year for the use of their song on radio stations, TV programmes and adverts.

The song tells a story of a drunkard falling out with his partner, who is tired of being let down. The two are miserable at Christmas while all around them everyone is enjoying the holiday season. Many people relate to the harsher side of Christmas which is probably why the song has remained so popular over the years.

MacGowan duets with the late Kirsty MacColl on the song as the two brilliantly play out the roles of the couple.

Noddy Holder always said his song would be his pension

The list was compiled by the Performing Right Society, which collect fees when songs are used by broadcasters.

Slade’s 1973 hit, Merry Christmas Everybody, came top of the list. Noddy Holder, who wrote the song with Slade bass player Jim Lea, always said it would be his pension, and an annual income of around €590,000 in royalties certainly backs up his claim.

Mariah Carey is third in the list with All I Want for Christmas is You. Carey’s hit was kept off the number one spot in the UK charts for Christmas in 1994 by East 17’s Stay Another Day.

But the pop diva’s Christmas hit has stood the test of time better, with East 17 receiving only around €35,000 a year in royalties compared to her €350,000.

Fairytale is also helped by campaigns being run by its fans each year to try to get back into the top 20. There not always successful, although Fairytale has been in the top 40 in the UK eleven times since it was first released.

Click here for more background information on how Fairytale of New York was written.
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By Andrew Moore

Andrew Moore is a writer for Irish Music Daily and Ireland Calling. His favourite Irish music bands are the Dropkick Murphys and the Pogues.