Ok, it’s now official. John Lewis has released their annual Christmas TV ad, we may as-well hang up the tinsel tonight. It’s officially unofficially Christmas.
It’s become a tradition among many families to sit down and watch the annual TV advert. Evoking warmth, love and most always including small animals, the ad gets you in the festive mood and more importantly get you spending. Over the years we’ve had Monty the Penguin, Buster the Boxer, Edgar the Dragon and many more who’ve all been stuffed and sold as toys in John Lewis stores across the country.
This year’s ad is again partnered with Waitrose and follows many different characters, both human and clay in their winter journeys. Its main theme is kindness and focuses on giving back as “every act of love has a positive impact on the world around us”.
Today we’re focusing on the songs that have accompanied the ads over the past decade. They’re usually some relatively unknown folk singer covering (or ruining) a classic throwback. However. this year John Lewis have recruited Brit-Award-winner Celeste to produce an original track. Titled “A Little Love”, the song ties into the kindness theme of the advert, especially after the chaotic year it’s been. From worst to best, here they are:
11. Dan Smith - Can’t Fight This Feeling (2019)
Original artist – REO Speedwagon
Poor Dan from Bastille (and the London Contemporary Orchestra), this whole advert and song was probably the worst to date. It’s all a bit boring really, we’d had the sad melancholic songs, we’d had the lovable creature, so it all felt a bit repetitive. The production is incredible, don’t get me wrong the LCO do a marvellous job, it’s just lacking in the vocal department from Smith. I think it’s best he sticks to Bastille from now on.
10. Aurora – Half The World Away (2015)
Original artist – Oasis
The biggest mistake of 2015’s advert was deciding an Oasis song was appropriate for a beloved family focused advert. Norwegian singer-songwriter Aurora is amazing, she has a great voice and portrays the story well, but it just doesn’t work. Bearing in mind, Adele has just released 25 that month which obliterated half the songs in the charts. It all was very lacklustre and a naff year as a whole for John Lewis.
9. Slow Moving Millie – Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want (2011)
Original artist – The Smiths
Another forgettable year for John Lewis. Maybe it’s my youth, but this song is utterly boring. I had to give the ad a watch as I couldn’t even remember it, however it’s utterly boring and deserves to be forgotten. Plastered in between Ellie Goulding and Gabrielle Aplin, who both have superior covers and better adverts makes 2011 fall so far down on the list.
8. Elbow – Golden Slumbers (2017)
Original artist – The Beatles
It’s very different for John Lewis, having a well-established band sing a cover for 2017’s advert. It’s mediocre at best. Better than the previous three on the list but still manages to fall victim to a common trope of John Lewis’ ads where the advert is great and the song is average.
7. Ellie Goulding – Your Song (2010)
Original artist – Elton John
Well done to Ellie Goulding’s agent. This advert really gave her the best end to a great year for her career. After releasing her debut album, and bops like Starry Eyed, Goulding – who was relatively unknown at the time – covered the great Your Song by Elton John. It’s a good cover with distinctively Ellie Goulding vocals. Her vibrato (which can be ever so jarring) goes amazingly over the strings and piano chords. It gave her the boost she needed and has went onto become one of the most popular artists in the UK.
6. Elton John – Your Song (2018)
What can I say? It’s Elton John. He’s a legend and the song is iconic.
5. Tom Odell – Real Love (2014)
Original artist – John Lennon
I LOVE this advert, It’s the penguins. 2014’s ad continues the winning streak for John Lewis, who opted for a male voice that year. Tom Odell really does shine on ballads, take a look at Another Love. It may be a tad forgettable, however when you do remember it, it makes it so much better.
4. Celeste – A Little Love (2020)
From winning her first Brit Award in February to providing her voice to this year’s advert, Celeste is setting herself up nicely for the release of her debut album. She doesn’t disappoint with the first original track to be used; a great song accompanies one of the best John Lewis adverts in years. Her deliciously rich tone makes you feel so cosy and homely. Celeste jumps into a sweet falsetto near the end which gives a great contrast her lower register. It’s a nice addition to the catalogue of JL theme songs.
3. Vaults – One Day I’ll Fly Away (2016)
Original artist – Randy Crawford
This cover gets a bad rap. I really enjoy Vaults’ rendition of the song, it has some really great vocals moments it, probably the most of any John Lewis song. However, the climax is where it’s at, Blythe Pepino’s vocals over the arrangement of strings is chilling. Nostalgia and a mix of emotions place it so highly, however I will argue its greatness forever. Despite the band splitting in 2017, they deserved better as they have some really great original songs too. The advert is also immensely cute as well.
2. Lily Allen – Somewhere Only We Know (2013)
Original artist – Keane
Okay, I might’ve got a bit teary re-watching 2013’s advert. At the height of the excitement for it, they managed to produce their best one ever. It’s animated, it’s heart wrenching, it’s great. Recruiting another great British female artist, Lily Allen joins the John Lewis song club. She’s an icon and she does a great job, despite hating it herself. The Keane cover shows Allen in a different light, allowing her to share a more vulnerable, sombre tone.
1.Gabrielle Aplin – The Power of Love (2012)
Original artist – Frankie Goes To Hollywood
The first song to reach Number One from the John Lewis ads, and rightly so. It’s the gold standard. The advert follows a snowman on the hunt for the perfect gift for his snow-wife. It’s great, everything about it screams Christmas. The JL trend of taking a classic and completely reinventing it works best here. Aplin has a great discography and the cover of Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s The Power of Love is a great addition that fits perfectly. The piano driven balled plays upon listeners heartstrings and builds to a fantastic climax, whilst maintaining that melancholic feeling. I doubt they’ll ever top this year.