'Fairytale of New York' remains my favourite Christmas song. I'm aware this is hardly an original view - particularly amongst lefties and radicals - but it's just the way it is. It's one of the sublime examples of romanticism, of a song that makes something poetic and beautiful and lyrical from the muckiness of real life. The Pogues' version of 'Dirty Old Town' is another example, though I regard Jarvis Cocker as the master of the form (he was my favourite lyricist when I was a teenager, during Pulp's heyday).
The song is so well-loved at least partly because it presents an alternative depiction of Christmas: far from negative, but simultaneously dark and yet strangely affectionate. It is much richer and deeper than the bland predictability of a safely commercialised Christmas. Which leads me, somewhat inevitably, to...
The triumphant rise of Rage Against the Machine to the top of the XMAS charts, with 'Killing in the Name' championed - through an inspired grassroots Facebook campaign - as an antidote to the corporate stitch-up of the great British tradition that is the Christmas number one. It feels to many like a collective backlash against much of What's Wrong, even if that is defined quite differently by different people. Despite there being a few tenuous arguments for why people should get behind the single, I'm chuffed that the campaign happened - and that it actually worked.
It's a symbolic blow against the narrowing of the musical mainstream and the way hugely powerful individuals (Simon Cowell) and big corporations can seemingly exert such control. It demonstrates the potential of the Net to mobilise people in a campaign - though we should also keep this in perspective! - and it's simply a source of pleasure to think of an anti-capitalist classic being at number one for Christmas.
The band, when interviewed by 5 Live this week, commented on how the track reflects the 'tensions' in people's lives. The strength of the online mobilisation to launch it to the top is surely an expression - and, in a peculiarly modern way, a collective expression - of those tensions.