Shropshire Star

The Big Debate: The best Christmas song ever made

What’s the best Christmas song of all time? Dan Morris and Andy Richardson put forward their festive top picks.

Shane MacGowan and Kirsty MacColl

Dan Morris: Fairytale all the way

It was Christmas Eve, babe, in the drunk tank...

Never has there been, nor will there ever be, a Christmas song that has stirred my soul like this one.

Written by Jem Finer and Shane MacGowan, 'Fairytale of New York' lifts the hairs on the back of my neck every year without fail, and I never consider the festive season to have truly started until I've heard that iconic piano intro kick in.

Recorded by MacGowan's legendary folk-punk band The Pogues, and featuring Kirsty MacColl as the insatiable wild man's duet partner, this one is a Christmas song with a difference, tackling themes ranging from substance abuse to relationship breakdowns.

In true MacGowan style, this was a record that was packed with attitude, yet also more heart and emotion than the average bear could ever muster.

After the slow and delicate intro gives all listeners the perfect soundtrack to humbly reflect on the year that has been, the middle céilidh kicks in and signals the start of party time. And this is why I love this one so much – it is the perfect microcosm of Christmas itself; a time of rambunctious enjoyment and also heartfelt reflection.

It was with great sadness that we said goodbye to Shane MacGowan last month, yet every year we can remember this talented poet by toasting one of his greatest creations.

This Christmas Day, Guinness in hand, I will certainly be raising a glass to the chap who, in the year of my birth, brought us the greatest festive ditty ever penned. We'll keep your dreams with us, Shane, and put them with our own. Thank you.

Andy Richardson: The sound of Chriiisssstmaaaasss!

The point of The Big Debate is to pit one writer against the other. We’re supposed to extol the virtues of something for which we’re passionate, thereby winning and proving that our pick is best.

Except, when it comes to Christmas songs – and when Dan Dan Drummer Man is banging the drum for The Pogues – the best this writer can do is extend the hand of friendship and call for a draw.

Because Fairytale Of New York – and, of course, Slade’s Merry Xmas Everybody – are the essence of Christmas. It’s a dead heat, there’s nothing to choose between them. Both are devoid of the saccharine of some Christmas songs – sorry Cliff, sorry Wham, sorry Mariah – and avoid the cliche of cash-in festive gimmicks – sorry Sausage Roll Man, come again next year.

In Slade’s case, is there a more festive sound than the one, the only Noddy Holder hollering: ‘It’s XXXXXMMMMASSSSSS’. Well, perhaps, but that’d be Shane and Kirsty, who Dan’s banging on about.

The sound of Slade is the sound of Christmas. It’s also the sound of people having a good time, of, literally, everybody having fun, of momma kissing Santa Claus, a-ha-har. So crack open the bubbly, or, more likely, pour yourself a pint of Bathams, because Noddy is playing Santa. And let’s look to the future, now, it’s only just begun.

Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.