The Pogues and Kristy MacColl’s “Fairy Tale of New York” is officially the most played Christmas song of the 21st century.

Music body PPL totals up every public airing of the song in Britain. Its calculations include plays on the radio, TV, and as background music in shops, bars, gyms, and restaurants. They began their calculations in 2000.

The song, released in 1987, never reached number one in the charts in Britain, but is played around the world every Christmas. It has also been featured in the UK’s top 20 chart on seven occasions.

Jonathan Morrish, spokesman with PPL, said “Fairytale of New York  is a timeless classic which everyone knows and rightfully deserves its place at the top spot”.

Writing in the Irish Times, Joe Cleary, a lecturer in the National University of Ireland, Maynooth, said that the song told the story of the reality of Irish emigration and what lay behind the “American Dream”.

He wrote, “With the exception of Joyce's ‘The Dead’ or Patrick Kavanagh's ‘Advent’, no work of the 20th-century Irish imagination has managed to illuminate a particular sense of Christmas so well as that song has done…It is at once a twisted love song, an emigrant ballad, and an anthem to the capital city of the 20th century. And it is perhaps for that reason that it is the only "Christmas classic" that one can hear without wincing in July."

Here’s the list of “The most played Christmas songs”:

1. Fairytale of New York  (1987), The Pogues

2. Last Christmas  (1984), Wham

3. All I Want for Christmas is You  (1994), Mariah Carey

4. I Wish it Could be Christmas Everyday  (1973), Wizzard

5. Do They Know it's Christmas?  (1984), Band Aid

6. Merry Xmas Everybody  (1973), Slade

7. Driving Home for Christmas  (1988), Chris Rea

8. Step into Christmas  (1973), Elton John

9. The Power of Love  (1984), Frankie Goes To Hollywood

10. Merry Christmas Everyone  (1985), Shakin' Stevens

Here’s the video for “Fairytale of New York”: