Fairytale of New York crowned UK’s top Christmas song

The 1987 track by The Pogues feat. Kirsty MacColl is both the most played Christmas classic in the UK and has been named Brit’s favourite festive tune.

Bekki Bemrose
  • By Bekki Bemrose
  • 4 Dec 2019
  • min read
The 1987 track by The Pogues feat. Kirsty MacColl is both the most played Christmas classic in the UK and has been named as Britain's favourite festive tune.

PRS for Music analysed data from radio stations across the country to identify the UK’s most played Christmas tracks, and its research also revealed that the 10th of December is when Brits officially feel the festive spirit.

Four in ten (41 percent) of the people surveyed said festive music was a key factor in feeling Christmassy.

The top 20 most played tracks revealed that older classics still rule, with Cliff Richard’s 2000 number one The Millennium Prayer being the most recent hit on the list.

PRS for Music also quizzed Brits on their festive pop knowledge, which laid bare a shaky familiarity with Christmas number ones.

Of those survey, one in six (57 percent) assumed The Pogues hit the top spot when it was in fact beaten by Pet Shop Boys’ version of Always on My Mind.

Meanwhile, 50 percent thought that Mariah Carey was crowned Christmas queen with All I Want for Christmas Is You, but it was Walthamstow’s finest East 17  who had an unexpected smash with Stay Another Day.

It's 25 years since the song was released and Mortimer has recently recorded a charity version of the song for the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM).

Similarly, half believed The Darkness had a chart topper with the comic Christmas Time (Don’t Let the Bells End), but it was Gary Jules that topped the charts with Mad World in 2003.

Brits also struggled with placing the right number ones to the right year, with more than half (52 percent) believing Paul McCartney had festive success with Wonderful Christmas Time in 1979, but it stalled at number six while Pink Floyd topped the charts with Another Brick in the Wall.

Tony Mortimer (East 17), songwriter and PRS for Music member, says: 'I’ve done different things with Stay Another Day over the years. For its 25th anniversary this year it’s been an honour to work with Waltham Forest Borough to release a charity version to support CALM, a cause very close to my heart. Songs take on different meanings for different people. I’m incredibly humbled that my lyrics can continue to touch people, to have longevity and possibly help someone at this time of year. It’s not all about being Number One.'

Andrea C. Martin, chief executive, PRS for Music, comments: 'It’s great to see that the nation’s favourite Christmas songs are penned by homegrown talent, with the majority of the Top 20 written by British songwriters. There is definitely something particularly special about Christmas lyrics; more than any, they evoke a sense of home, family and spending time with our loved ones. It takes a very talented songwriter to pen a Christmas classic and while some didn’t reach Number One when they were first released, they make a return to our hearts and charts year after year.'

The UK’s favourite Christmas songs are as follows:
1 The Pogues Feat. Kirsty MacColl - Fairytale Of New York - 1987
2 Wham! – Last Christmas 1984
3 Slade – Merry Xmas Everybody (Original Version) 1973
4 Bing Crosby – White Christmas 1942
5 Wizzard – I Wish it Could be Christmas Every Day 1973
6 Mariah Carey – All I Want for Christmas Is You 1994
7 Chris Rea – Driving Home For Christmas 1986
8 Band Aid – Do They Know It's Christmas 1984
9 Greg Lake – I Believe In Father Christmas 1975
10 Johnny Mathis – When A Child Is Born 1976
11 Boney M – Mary's Boy Child 1978
12 East 17 – Stay Another Day 1994
13 Nat King Cole – The Christmas Song (Chestnuts roasting on an open fire) 1946
14 John Lennon – Happy Xmas (War is Over) 1971
15 Shakin' Stevens – Merry Christmas Everyone 1985
16 Frankie Goes To Hollywood – The Power Of Love 1984
17 Aled Jones – Walking In The Air 1985
18 Bing Crosby and David Bowie – The Little Drummer Boy 1977
19 Jona Lewie – Stop The Cavalry 1978
20 Cliff Richard – The Millennium Prayer 2000