The breathy tones of the annual John Lewis Christmas advert cover song continue to serenade us each festive season, but what does this year have in store for us?
John Lewis enlisted the expertise of the creative agency Adam & Eve DDB in 2009 to help cement their position as the king of Christmas adverts, and since then two of the six songs used in the two-minute tear-jerkers have reached number one in the charts. It goes without saying that the advert will include a smooth cover of a Britpop classic but before predicting the future, let’s look back over the past.
John Lewis set the bar high for their first Christmas cover, as it simply doesn’t get more British than Guns ‘n’ Roses 1988 rock anthem Sweet Child O’ Mine. The Swedish singer, Taken by Trees’, covered the classic and reached number 23 in the UK charts. This revealed the first element of the formula - the covering artist will sing a Britpop banger.
The turn of the decade came with another addition to the formula; the adverts will focus on British songs & singers. Ellie Goulding’s cover of Elton John’s Your Song which topped the UK’s download chart. We all had our heartstrings pulled with this one…
Amelia Warner covered The Smith’s Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want which peaked at 31 in the official charts. This was the lowest ranking song in the charts compared to others!
The first John Lewis advert cover song to reach number one was Gabrielle Aplin’s cover of the 1984 classic, The Power of Love by Frankie Goes to Hollywood. It also re-entered the charts again the following Christmas. Another element of the formula is clear - the covering artist is likely to be a female…
The proceeds from Lily Allen’s cover of Somewhere Only We Know, the 2004 indie ballad by Keane, which accompanied the animated tale of a bear and a hare, were donated to Save the Children's Philippine Typhoon Appeal campaign.
Indie singer-songwriter Tom Odell crooned a cover of Real Love, a John Lennon song that was reworked by the three remaining Beatles in 1995. Odell's version reached number seven in the charts.
Last year’s song will be sung by a Norwegian breakthrough artist, Aurora. The Christmas Advert featured a cover of the Oasis song, Half the World Away, a 1994 B-side that doubled as the theme tune to The Royle Family. The formula becomes clearer as we can now say that the covering artist is likely to be a breakthrough act.
We’ve been working behind the scenes, using the charts to find the number one singles and albums, and based the genre classifications of the different bands and artists on category labels in last.fm. You can view our John Lewis Christmas Advert Formula here.
Even though no single song in the past 7 years has ticked every box of the winning formula, these are still the most recurrent patterns that if this year’s song meets every criteria, perhaps it will be the ultimate Christmas advert song!
We’re looking forward to finding out if the predictions were right, and most importantly, another heart-warming, tear-jerking, great Christmas ad!