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Music News: The BBC Edits "Faggot" Out Of The Pogues' Christmas Classic, Plus Britney Spears, Michael Jackson, Mary J. Blige, Shelby Lynne, Gary Barlow

Fairytale

GuestbloggerPlease welcome Robbie Daw, who will be penning weekly music posts for us here on Towleroad! Robbie runs his own pop music site called Chart Rigger.

road.jpg In the U.K., the BBC backed down a day after announcing its decision to censor the word "faggot" from Radio 1 plays of The Pogues' holiday classic, "Fairytale Of New York". The 1987 song, a duet with deceased vocalist Kirsty Maccoll, features reminiscent bickering between fictional ex-lovers, wherein Maccoll admonishes Pogues' singer Shane MacGowan with "you scumbag, you maggot, you cheap lousy faggot," and he refers to her as "an old slut on the junk."

The BBC had previously said, "We are playing an edited version because some members of the audience might find it offensive." Today, the BBC reported, "Controller Andy Parfitt said the original decision was 'wrong'."

PoguesThe decision came after the Stonewall organization took the BBC to task for its apparent hypocrisy, as popular morning show DJ Chris Moyles refuses to apologize for his frequent use of the word "gay" in a manner "more associated with homophobic playground language."

Stonewall chief Ben Summerskill said to PinkNews.co.uk: "We would be happier to see Radio 1 take action against the persistently anti-gay Chris Moyles rather than bleep one word of a Christmas classic." In an awards ceremony put on by Stonewall last year where Chris Moyles was named Bully Of The Year, host Ian McKellen commented, "Chris Moyles repeatedly uses the word gay in the playground sense, without apology, that is inappropriate language for a host of a national breakfast show who speaks to millions of young children."

The U.K. paper The Telegraph also published comments from readers regarding the censorship of "Fairytale Of New York." Said one man identifying himself as gay: "To begin altering songs made long ago would mean bleeping out a lot of the music back catalogue. However, if the song was made today and directed at homosexuals solely then I do think that would be a whole different story."

"Fairytale Of New York" is a Christmastime staple on U.K. radio. The song originally peaked at #2 on the British chart in December 1987, held back by the Pet Shop Boys' "Always On My Mind." It has been re-released on several occasions, and is currently at #8 in this week's U.K. Top 10.

Thrillerzombiecover_3road.jpg Within three days of its YouTube debut, Britney Spears' "Piece Of Me" video has garnered over 1.6 million views. There's nary a Chris Crocker cameo to be seen in the paparazzi-themed clip, but dig those backing vocals by Robyn.

road.jpg Specifically designed to make you feel old, Epic will release the Thriller: 25th Anniversary Edition (pictured left) February 12. Michael Jackson's landmark album will feature the nine original songs -- which include "The Girls Is Mine," "Beat It," "Wanna Be Startin' Something" and "P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)" -- as well as remixes, unreleased tracks "Carousel" and "Someone In The Dark," and a bonus DVD with three music videos and Jackson's original performance of "Billie Jean" from the Motown 25: Yesterday, Today And Forever special, where he first unleashed "the moonwalk" upon an unsuspecting world.

road.jpg Martha Wainwright will join her brother Rufus on stage tomorrow at New York's Highline Ballroom for a Christmas charity performance benefiting SaveDarfur.org.

road.jpg TODAY'S NEW RELEASES:

Pretty much the only album from a major artist this month, Mary J. Blige's Growing Pains, is out. The singer worked with Ne-Yo, The Neptunes, Polow da Don and Stargate on the record.

Also made available on iTunes are singles from Nick Lachey ("Ordinary Day") and Shelby Lynne ("Anyone Who Had A Heart"). Lynne's full album of Dusty Springfield covers drops in February.

road.jpg HOLIDAY CLIPS: I'll leave you with the music video (featuring a Matt Dillon cameo) for The Pogues' "Fairytale Of New York," and a perhaps less-offensive clip -- or more, depending on your tolerance for schmaltz -- of a 15-year-old, pre-Take That Gary Barlow performing his original composition "Let's Pray For Christmas" in a 1986 song competition on BBC's Pebble Mill. He didn't win.

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Comments

  1. "Fairytale of New York" is a beautiful song, all the more so since the tragic, horrible death of Kirsty Maccoll. (She was vacationing in Cuba and was run over by a motor boat while swimming. The prop chewed her up---in front of her husband and children. Just awful.) "Editing" it is stupid. The fight between the two singers is funny and heartfelt, not offensive. Plus they make up...the fight ends something like this:

    Her: "You took my dreams away, when I first met you."

    Him: "I kept them with me babe, and mixed them with my own. Can't we get on tonight, this Christmas Eve." (but don't quote me)

    Posted by: Paul | Dec 18, 2007 3:28:14 PM


  2. It was the song "Bille Jean" that Michael Jackson performed on the Motown 25th Anniversary Special, where he first did his moonwalk, not "Beat It".

    Posted by: wrong song | Dec 18, 2007 3:28:56 PM


  3. RIP kirstie. we'll miss you although your lovely voice will live on.

    Posted by: alguien | Dec 18, 2007 3:40:16 PM


  4. Paul, Thanks for the update, but Kirsty was killed in Cozumel, Mexico, not Cuba. The guy who drove the boat was sentanced to 2-4 years in jail, but was given the option of paying $90 to remain free....Mexican justice!

    Posted by: mike | Dec 18, 2007 3:51:01 PM


  5. I can hardly listen to the songs on MacColl's last album, "Tropical Brainstorm" without tearing up a little bit because of her horrible demise.

    I love she and the Pogue's "Fairytale". The 'faggot' line sometimes makes me bristle a bit (especially if the song comes up on my Holiday playlist at work) but ultimately it fits within the context of the song since they get a little more and more vicious with each other. But as Paul mentions, the (singing) characters at the end redeem themselves.

    That said, I share the sentiment that true homophobes be targeted for their hateful language rather than the artists behind this song (and the song itself). I would much rather hear decent, supportive people use the word 'faggot' than hear some dipshit who uses the word 'gay' as an insult.

    It's all in the delivery.

    Posted by: Rey | Dec 18, 2007 4:02:57 PM


  6. "The fight between the two singers is funny and heartfelt, not offensive."??

    A stake dipped in boiling Christmas pudding up your arse, Paul. Faggot, nigger, kike, spic, et al., are not toys for "artistes" to play with. And the same to the BBC for backing down and Stonewall UK's contribution to it. Now, counting the failure to censure Moyles, we have two wrongs that don't make one right. Happy now, Lady Summerskill?

    Counting down until Lady Elton "I proudly sang with homohaters Eminem because I wanted to suck his White Trailer Trash cock" John to weigh, and we do mean WEIGH, in.

    Posted by: Leland Frances | Dec 18, 2007 4:07:53 PM


  7. To Leland Frances -

    I like your point about how hateful words are not toys for artists to play with. That also applies to all the movies out there that throw around the word "faggot," yet they don't have one single gay character in them. I also agree with you about Elton John. That duet he did with Eminem was... well, for lack of a better word... gay.

    Hollywood Dave

    Posted by: Hollywood Dave | Dec 18, 2007 4:13:33 PM


  8. Uh, it was Billie Jean, not Beat It, that MJ did the moonwalk to (and has been doing it ever since.) Towleroad's copy editor on vacation already? j/k :-)

    Posted by: Joseph | Dec 18, 2007 4:14:41 PM


  9. With or without the word, the song still sucks.

    Posted by: Bud | Dec 18, 2007 4:38:10 PM


  10. I LOVE THAT SONG and it should not be edited.

    Posted by: Stenar | Dec 18, 2007 4:41:06 PM


  11. Oh fer chrissake people! They're DRUNKS! The two characters in the song are hardcore, wetbrain, terminal ALCOHOLICS!

    The argument against the use of a sexual slur in "Fairytale" has as much weight as the contention that the depiction of Patsy and Edina's drinking and drug use on AbFab encouraged drug abuse in young people.

    Please. Could we try and be a little less literal all the time? Context does count for something.

    Besides, most Holiday songs bring my dinner up. This song is one of the few that actually brings a tear to my eye...Sniff...

    Posted by: mcQuaidLA | Dec 18, 2007 4:47:51 PM


  12. Oh fer chrissake people! They're DRUNKS! The two characters in the song are hardcore, wetbrain, terminal ALCOHOLICS!

    The argument against the use of a sexual slur in "Fairytale" has as much weight as the contention that the depiction of Patsy and Edina's drinking and drug use on AbFab encouraged drug abuse in young people.

    Please. Could we try and be a little less literal all the time? Context does count for something.

    Besides, most Holiday songs bring my dinner up. This song is one of the few that actually brings a tear to my eye...Sniff...

    Posted by: mcQuaidLA | Dec 18, 2007 4:49:22 PM


  13. How about instead of just bleeping it out, we replace it with "nigger" or "kike." Then lets see how many people are offended. Why would one be more acceptable than another?

    I'm not even offended, but I've heard words like "damn" bleeped out on radio stations before. A radio station is a business that can make its own censorship decisions. I just find it interesting the amount of outrage over one word, a notably derogatory one, being bleeped out for a fraction of a second. As if you can't just download or buy an unedited copy anyways.

    I don't even care for political correctness but even I can understand that a radio station might want to bleep a word like 'slut' or 'faggot'. They are pretty vulgar words to a lot of people, and if they're going for a family friendly Christmas audience then it makes all the sense in the world to censor it.

    Of course they could just not play the song at all as its pretty terrible anyways IMO.

    Posted by: Wes | Dec 18, 2007 5:13:54 PM


  14. Oops! Fixing the "Billie Jean"/"Beat It" mix-up. Thanks for pointing out, Joseph and WS!

    Posted by: Robbie | Dec 18, 2007 5:14:01 PM


  15. Editing art is offensive. And Kirsty was and is a treasure, as others have pointed out, sadly missed.

    Posted by: Ernie | Dec 18, 2007 6:23:41 PM


  16. Mike, you are of course absolutely correct. I suppose I was confused by her regular Cuba associations.

    And Leland, thank you for reminding me why I've generally stopped reading the comments on this site. And per usual, you're absolutely right---artists shouldn't be allowed to write, sing, or portray discussions or anything else in a way that accurately depicts a likely conversation between two sodden drunks. After all, some idiot DJ speaking like a playground bully is really directly comparable to the beautiful talent that was Kirsty Maccoll.

    Posted by: Paul | Dec 18, 2007 6:50:52 PM


  17. Robbie neglected to mention that "Bleeding Love" by Leona Lewis was finally made available in the U.S. store today. Here's hoping she makes as much of an impact here as she did in the U.K. for seven weeks...

    Posted by: BEB | Dec 18, 2007 8:44:57 PM


  18. To everyone complaining about the word "faggot" in New York Fairytale, all I can say is:

    Philistines.

    Kirsty Maccoll and Shane McGowan are both treasures, and that song is one of the best they ever sung. To edit it would be desecration.

    Context matters. If you don't understand that, please go sit back down at the Manichean table.

    Posted by: Dan E | Dec 18, 2007 10:16:15 PM


  19. Paul: Thanks for sounding off. Care to know what annoys me?

    1.) People who post about topics they obviously know nothing about.

    2.) People who claim they don't read the T.R. comments, but really do.

    Posted by: Jeff | Dec 19, 2007 9:19:36 AM


  20. If editing art is offensive, you should take issue with every radio station that edits every curse word in the world. That's a lot of radio stations, by the way.

    Why can't people just buy or download an unedited copy of the song if you want to hear it? No one complains when fuck is constantly bleeped out, why should faggot be any different?

    Posted by: Wes | Dec 19, 2007 9:56:32 AM


  21. Jeff, your point 2 may or may not be valid, but you have no basis for your assertion of point 1.

    Paul seems to know quite a bit about the subject at hand. Perhaps it's you who can't understand things within their context.

    Either way, I agree with Dan E and others - again, I would much rather hear decent, supportive people use the word 'faggot' expressed as screwed-up chav-characters than hear some dumb ape* who uses the word 'gay' as an insult.

    (*My apologies to chimps, gorillas, orangs, and bonobos everywhere!)

    Posted by: Rey | Dec 19, 2007 10:46:15 AM


  22. Paul, not to be bitchy, but just for the record, the line goes:

    I kept them with me babe, I put them with my own, can't make it all alone, I've built my dreams around you.

    Shane McGowan is one of the best lyricists of modern times. As for his singing...

    R.I.P. Kirsty

    On the topic of knit-pickery, it's so good to know that we've achieved such strides in equality for gays and lesbians that all we have to deal with currently is a single word used in a specific way by a specific character in a song from the 80s. Thank God we picked all the right battles.

    Posted by: Quakerjono | Dec 19, 2007 2:41:25 PM


  23. I saw a great doco on the making of that song. IIRC, Kirsty's vocal was overdubbed as a temp track (she was married to the producer of the song) and McGowan liked it so much, it stayed.

    Posted by: mike | Dec 20, 2007 8:00:45 AM


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