Here’s a riddle: you might love them, you might hate them, but once a year you can’t escape them. That’s right, it’s Christmas adverts! And with Christmas adverts come songs crafted for these campaigns; built to make you laugh, smile, and, of course, buy things.
Some do it better than others, so we’re counting down the best musical masterpieces that have graced our screens these last few Decembers. Did we include your favourites?
From Me To You
Created the year before the supermarket changed its advertising company, this song’s ad is almost unrecognisably John Lewis. Set in a plain grey studio, actors of varying ages are paired with fitting gifts. Piling on some Christmassy pressure, the ending tagline proclaims that ‘if you know the person, you’ll find the present’ – daring you, just daring you, to buy a candle.
The song’s as simplistic as the ad; a gentle Beatle’s cover that hints at the stripped-back charm of the supermarket’s later sound. It’s sweet, it’s heartwarming, but somehow it feels a little incomplete.
Every Bit of Christmas
Called ‘amazing’ by some and ‘grotesque’ by others, this is the marmite of Christmas Advert Songs. Still, if you’re looking for some respite from the years of sombre John Lewis ads or some #relatable content, sing along to lyrics about running out of sellotape and hating Brussel sprouts. Get out of my head, Sainsbury’s!
While the ad received an icy reception, this Beatle’s cover was deemed to be a saving grace. Staying true to the feeling of the original, Elbow also succeed in making it their own, although, frustratingly, it doesn’t segue into “Carry That Weight”.
For kids of the 80s and 90s, this jaunty tune from Toys R Us initiated a pavlovian pleading for presents every Christmas that left pressured parents exasperated. It was a sad day when cartoon giraffe George and his theme tune were replaced by a lifeless CG recreation and instantly forgettable song. They don’t make them like this anymore.
Sweet Child O’ Mine
Both sentimental and upbeat, this cover by Taken By Trees might feel like a welcome reprieve from John Lewis’ more melancholic ads.
Holidays Are Coming
‘You know it’s Christmas when the Coca Cola advert comes on,’ it may have become a cliché at this point, but it’s true. We have to give this song credit for becoming a bona fide cultural icon as well as a seasonal marker. Who needs calendars when you’ve got Coke!
Half The World Away
Aurora’s ethereal vocals reshape this song to beautiful effect, even while the gloomy lyrics might feel a bit mismatched with Christmas. Then again, who hasn’t thought ‘find me a hole and I’ll live in it’ at some point on the big day. Probably when the Monopoly board comes out.
One Day I’ll Fly Away
Another hair-raising cover, Vaults’ breezy, sweeping vocals merge with delicate instrumentation. It’s the perfect companion to snowy vistas and frosty branches, as well as apparently being the perfect soundtrack to a dog bouncing on a trampoline.
Check out the full, awe-inspiring cover here.
The Power Of Love
Remember that John Lewis snowman ad? Of course you do! The overriding song was similarly whimsical; Gabriella Aplin’s tender vocals pairing perfectly with this dedicated boyfriend/snowman’s journey to the city. He certainly set the bar high.
Somewhere Only We Know
Who’d have thought the person who used to sing about pimps and getting your licence revoked could sound so angelic? Lily Allen’s trembling vocals sound gloriously sweet in this Keane cover, while the rush of the keys perfectly capture that feeling of festive anticipation.
Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want
It may be on the sombre side, but this Smiths cover is an understated gem. Using it to add to the surprise of the ad’s ending twist was a stroke of genius.
Amidst a potentially more accurate reflection of Christmas-time, this KFC song promises peace and unity at the low price of a bucket of chicken. Featuring fireworks, a gospel choir, and the most passionate delivery of ‘seasoned meat’ you’ll ever hear, it’s the funnier, less chipper cousin of its Sainsbury’s counterpart.
Critically acclaimed, this Ellie Goulding cover avoids massacring an Elton John original. Far from it; her voice is perfectly poised over the gentle piano accompaniment, and glides through the song from beginning to end. Not sure that excuses the poor dog being stuck outside in the snow, though?
Walking In The Air Parody
As if Irn Bru parodied The Snowman by having its protagonist drop the boy from 100 ft in the air, and all for the sake of an Irn Bru. He even chucks the carrot nose over his shoulder for good measure.
Tom Odell’s tremulous warbling? It’s my allergies. A little boy being friends with a penguin? I’ll admit, I’m getting a little choked up. The penguin falls in love? Now I’m full-on sobbing into my Bailey’s. Combine all three and you’ve got an all-out emotional onslaught, and somehow this flippered fiend is convincing me that’s a good thing.
Whether Christmas makes you want to laugh or cry, we hope you’ve enjoyed doing both in our look-back on some of the best yuletide ads and the Christmas advert songs they’ve spawned.
If you liked this, you may also like:
The 20 Best Christmas Movie Soundtracks
The Funniest Misheard Lyrics Of All Time
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