By now most of us could probably have a good go at listing the ingredients of the John Lewis Christmas advert. Heartfelt vignettes about togetherness and community, backed by re-imagined pop tunes of yesteryear. Its introduction each year borders on a national event.
This year it was Phil Oakey’s Together in Electric Dreams which has been given the stripped-back, slowed downtreatment we’ve come to expect, with Lola Young taking over vocal duties.
Oakey’s TIED was a shimmering synth-pop gem, perhaps as 80s as the 80s can get and when you take out all that electronic instrumentation, lesser songs may have fallen a bit flat. However, Young’s cover highlights the sincerity present in the lyrics and gives it a more delicate almost melancholy feel.
In place of synths, we have sparse piano parts, and backing vocals are given a more choral element. There is a break before the last chorus which does seem like it’s done for the sake of adding some variety, rather than actually givinganything more to the song, but admittedly it does make the final chorus stand out, so I suppose it did its job.
Overall, it’s a very compelling version which does feel like a unique take on a classic, in the same way many previous John Lewis songs have.
Speaking to i Young said: “This version does feel like my song. It’s different enough from the original but still pays respect to the original writers.” That is certainly the case.
The 21-year-old singer is following in the footsteps of Lily Allen, Elbow and Celeste who have all featured on previous iterations of the advert and there’s no doubt that this is likely to give a platform on which she can showcase her music to a raft of new listeners.
Words – Matthew Dougherty