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Kirsty MacColl opted not to sing ‘f****t’ during a 1992 ‘Fairytale of New York’ performance and Armageddon did not occur

Josh Milton December 27, 2019
Singer Kirsty MacColl, who sang alongside The Pogues for a 'Fairytale of New York' cover, once changed a controversial lyric live on Top of the Pops in 1992. (Screenshot via YouTube)

Singer Kirsty MacColl, who sang alongside The Pogues for a 'Fairytale of New York' cover, once changed a controversial lyric live on Top of the Pops in 1992. (Screenshot via YouTube)

A families up and down the UK tucked into turkey and basked in the warm glow of their television boxes, queer people got the Christmas gift they always wanted: Hearing a homophobic slur.

Imagine how tired we are.

The Pogues‘ 1987 song ‘Fairytale of New York’, regularly rated as the nation’s favourite festive song, is also regularly plunged into controversy for its inclusion of ‘f****t’ in one of its lyrics.

Becoming as synonymous with the holidays as twinkly lights, the annual debate over whether the lyric – given the term’s modern use as an anti-gay slur – was intensified after BBC One comedy Gavin & Stacey aired on December 25.

It became caught in a crossfire of criticism after two characters did a karaoke version of the song and sang the lyric, cutting it off shortly after the word was uttered. Broadcasting the slur to more than 11.6 million viewers.

Kirsty MacColl changed controversial homophobic lyric and the world did not end. 

Viewers’ reactions were divided, as some claimed that the original context of the lyric – ‘f****t’ being traditional Irish slang for lazy person – gives claim to sing the song as originally written.

While detractors said that the term should have been censored or avoided altogether considering the term’s brittle and hurtful usage.

But footage of the late Kirsty MacColl singing the line, ‘You scumbag you maggot, you cheap lousy f*****, happy Christmas your arse I pray God it’s our last,’ where she opted not to belt out the homophobic slur has gone viral.

While Pogues front-person Shane McGowan has defended the lyric, MacColl once performed a rendition of the song where she swerved saying the lyric completely.

She instead sang: “You’re cheap and you’re haggard.”

Fortunately, the world did not end and the song sounded amazing. Being a pre-Twitter world, swarms of straight people did not swoop down to claim the slur is only ‘harmless’.

And for LGBT+ viewers tuning into the 1992 Top of the Pops episode, they did not have to uneasily shift on their couch or sip their tea as they watched it.

Twitter: ‘Well, would you look at how EASY it is to not sing the word f*ggot’.

Moreover, the adaptation of the song has been revised by other artists since, such as Christy Moore as well as Ronan Keating.

As Gavin & Stacey fans continue to trade barbs and discuss whether the lyric should have been included in the Christmas special, many Twitter users said that what MacColl showed is that the song can be sang while *checks notes* not saying a hurtful slur.

More: Christmas, Fairytale of New York, Gavin and Stacey, homophobic slurs, kirsty maccoll

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