I’m in severe danger of starting to hate an excellent song. Not because of what “Fairytale Of New York” is – whole-hearted, rambunctious, sad and sentimental – but because of what it’s being used for: “the great anti-carol” as Sean O’Hagan typically puts it in a piece in today’s Observer, a stick to beat ‘commercialised’ and ‘banal’ Christmas with. Weirdly, O’Hagan’s analysis of what’s going on in the song – the mixture of the “romantic and sordid” – is pretty astute, so it’s doubly frustrating that he reaches for “gritty realism” as the key thing to take away from it. I don’t want to fight cliche with cliche here, but it reinforces a long-standing impression that broadsheet journalists with a thing for ‘realism’ in pop are lazy thinkers who get a nice little cultural stiffie over other people’s misery.

Pop and Christmas go so well together because both are such a mix of fantasy and reality, hope and expectation, grinding practise and evanescent magic: the Pogues and Kirsty track takes an honoured place in any list of great Christmas songs but it’s no more realistic than Slade’s rowdy family Christmas, or “Blue Christmas”‘ tinsel-tinted loneliness, or even “In The Bleak Midwinter”. The Christmas tree has a religious trunk and commercial branches but its roots go deeper than either – this is a fucking horrible time of year and as human beings we need to invent something to cheer ourselves up and let us dream a bit. Which “Fairytale Of New York” does admirably, no thanks to its false-friend defenders.

Here’s a worse song than “Fairytale”, no more than a dirgey blast of irritation really, though this year more than ever I’ve found myself wanting to point people to it. This excellent video, by a Liverpool-based artist, gives me an excuse.