Debbie Harry and singer/songwriter Jesse Malin teamed for a cover of the Pogues' famous Christmas track Fairytale of New York over the weekend (14Dec19), despite recent controversy surrounding the song's lyrics.

The former Blondie singer and the New Yorker took the stage for a rendition of the 1987 hit, which also featured vocals by late singer/songwriter Kirsty MacColl, during a special event for the Joe Strummer Foundation in New York City.

Founded in honour of the late frontman of British punk rock pioneers The Clash, the charity's benefit was timed to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the band's iconic album London Calling. Strummer also briefly fronted The Pogues in the late 1980s, while frontman Shane MacGowan was on a hiatus.

The line in Fairytale of New York, which has long caused outrage, is sung by MacColl, who died in 2000, and includes the phrase "cheap lousy f**got". The song, which chronicles a couple's addiction battles, has been the subject of much recent debate with campaigners calling for the offensive term, regarded as an anti-gay slur, to be removed, while MacGowan insists the lyrics were never intended to be politically correct.

"There is no political correctness to it... I've been told it's insulting to gays; I don't understand how that works," he said on Ireland's The Late Late Show.

The 61 year old also explained the lyric last year (18), when he noted of the persona adopted by MacColl for the song, "She is not supposed to be a nice person, or even a wholesome person. She is a woman of a certain generation at a certain time in history and she is down on her luck and desperate. Her dialogue is as accurate as I could make it but she is not intended to offend!

"She is just supposed to be an authentic character and not all characters in songs and stories are angels or even decent and respectable, sometimes characters in songs and stories have to be evil or nasty in order to tell the story effectively."