The Story of... 'Can't Fight This Feeling' by REO Speedwagon

14 November 2019, 09:59

REO Speedwagon - Can't Fight This Feeling
Picture: YouTube/John Lewis

By Tom Eames

REO Speedwagon's '80s power ballad 'Can't Fight This Feeling' has been given the John Lewis Christmas advert tribute for 2019.

Dan Smith from Bastille has covered the song for this year's festive ad starring Excitable Edgar the cute dragon, but who wrote the original song and what inspired it?

  1. Who wrote it?

    REO Speedwagon's Kevin Cronin in 1980
    REO Speedwagon's Kevin Cronin in 1980. Picture: Getty

    The ballad was written by REO Speedwagon lead singer Kevin Cronin, who also penned other hits by the band including 'Keep on Loving You'.

    When the band struggled to come up with songs for their Wheels Are Turnin' album, they each took time off they could write alone.

    Cronin travelled to Molokai, Hawaii, and he played around with a song that he first wrote 10 years earlier but never finished. It evolved into this.

  2. What inspired the song?

    Kevin Cronin's girlfriends have been the inspiration for several REO hits, and he told Songfacts that this track is based on a combination of various relationships, but the song has also a deeper meaning.

    "Really, what the song is about was about my inability to have the courage to express myself," he said.

    "I was brought up in an Irish-Catholic family, and you were taught to always keep a bright face, always act like everything was OK, even if maybe everything on the inside wasn't so OK.

    "So that's something I've struggled with, and over the years have gotten better at."

    He continued: "At that time, the only way I knew to express those feelings was to write songs about them. I've learned over the years that it works better to talk to people!

    "You can actually become closer to other human beings when you are vulnerable and express yourself and are free to tell the truth and to be honest and to be up front with your feelings. It does work. Back in those days, the best that I could do was write a song about it."

  3. What happens in the music video?

    Two videos were made for the track.

    One shows the band larking about in rehearsals before performing the song, and another cutting edge video directed by Kevin Dole, showing a baby going through life stages from birth to death.

  4. How did it perform in the charts?

    While only a number 16 hit in the UK, the song gave REO another number one hit in the States in 1985.

  5. Who has covered it?

    In 2019, it was used in the Christmas advert for John Lewis & Partners, sung by Bastille's Dan Smith (watch the advert above).

    It was performed by Russell Brand and Alec Baldwin in the comedy rock musical Rock of Ages.

    There have also been versions by Cory Monteith in Glee, Smokie, and it has also popped up in Stranger Things, South Park and even a Sheba cat food advert.