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Monty the penguin and friend in this year's John Lewis Christmas ad.
Monty the penguin and friend in this year's John Lewis Christmas ad.
Monty the penguin and friend in this year’s John Lewis Christmas ad.

As has been the tradition for the last few years, the retail outlet John Lewis has released their annual advert for Christmas, and once again it’s a heartwarming tale of unexpected love set to the soundtrack of a downbeat and mournful version of a well known pop song.

Last year Lily Allen did melancholy things to “Somewhere Only We Know” by Keane while a rabbit taught a bear the meaning of Christmas. The year before that Gabrielle Aplin sucked all the grandeur (and some of the lyrics) out of “The Power of Love” by Frankie Goes To Hollywood while a snowman bought his lady friend a hat. And the year before THAT Slow Moving Millie made “Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want” by the Smiths seem to be about ticking off items from the Christmas list, rather than filling an existential void, except in a final twist in the tale, the excited child in the advert was actually impatient to give his parents their present.

So this year, true to form, the balladeer Tom Odell has taken John Lennon’s “Real Love”—one of two songs donated to the three remaining Beatles in 1996 to record over for the Anthology project—and given it the mournful sloth treatment. It’s here, but this is not where the fun really starts:

So, we have a formula—unexpectedly heartwarming thing happens to the soundtrack of an old song made sad—and an entire nation of natural snoot-cockers on Twitter, ready with sharpened wits and suggestions for (as the hashtag has it) #FutureJohnLewisAds.

It started with Metro…

…who did a few of these…

…before hitting comedy paydirt by making the old song entirely inappropriate:

The gauntlet well and truly thrown down, enter the great British public with their snarkbombs:

And before we know what’s what, we have a spiraling comedy hashtag on our hands…

…made official by the arrival of Comedy Central:

Note: other Christmas commercials with dreary music are available.

See more:
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Five Songs That Contributed to the Moral Decay of Great Britain
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By Fraser McAlpine