Glen Hansard and Imelda May rendition of Fairytale of New York divides Late Late Show viewers

Glen Hansard and Imelda May rendition of Fairytale of New York divides Late Late Show viewers

VIEWERS of Friday's Late Late Show Christmas Special were left divided by a rendition of Fairytale of New York by Irish singers Glen Hansard and Imelda May.

The song, written by Shane MacGowan and Jem Finer, was originally a hit in Ireland and Britain for The Pogues in 1987.

Featuring the late Kirsty MacColl, it has continued to chart in both countries in most festive seasons since then, including reaching No. 7 in Ireland and No. 4 in Britain last year.

Clearly a much-loved song marked out by MacGowan's distinctive vocals, it takes a brave person to cover the classic.

May and Oscar winner Hansard made a sincere stab at it but opinions were divided over the performance, with the main gripe appearing to be a change to the original lyrics.

Performances and airings of the song have occasionally censored the word 'f****t' over fears it could be offensive, and May similarly dropped the word in favour of 'crackhead'.

"Shame on Glen and Immelda [sic] for changing the words and ruining a lovely song," said one Twitter user.

"Half the attraction of that song is in the original lyrics. It's just hasn't the same passion or meaning minus these lyrics!" added another.

"You just destroyed another person's great work, which is one of the best Christmas tunes in history. If you're going to even attempt, have the decency to use the correct words," said a third.

Others compared the performance unfavourably to previous cover versions by Ronan Keating and Bon Jovi, which were also widely criticised by fans of the original.

"Bon Jovi murdered this song years ago and she out did him," said one critic.

"They are making Ronan Keating's version look good," added another.

However, some viewers enjoyed the song and commended the pair for taking on a classic.

"The original will always stand but this version had its own magic," said one viewer.

"I liked it. I liked the music of it, the changes in the version they did," added another.

"It's not the iconic one, that belongs to Shane and Kirsty, and always will, but I liked it."

Despite the criticism, the inspiration for performing the song — which talks of the bitterly cold New York weather on Christmas Eve — was more sombre.

Hansard and May were on the show in part to promote the Big Busk, which returns to the streets of Dublin for the first time since 2019 following the Covid pandemic.

The event, which began more than a decade ago, sees some of Ireland's biggest stars performing in Grafton Street on Christmas Eve.

Proceeds from the event go to homeless charity the Simon Community.

Previous years have seen performances from Hansard and May as well as MacGowan, Bono, Damien Rice and Sinead O'Connor.

Ahead of their Late Late Show performance, May also praised the late MacColl, who gave the Dubliner her first break after she moved to Britain in 1998.

"She took me under her wing and I went on a support tour with her," May told host Ryan Tubridy.

"We had just such a lovely time.

"We were supposed to work on some songs together.

"I would like to send loads of love to Kirsty's family."

This year, the Simon Community have also released an album to coincide with the Big Busk.

Featuring performances from Bono, Rice and Hansard among others, it is available from