John Lewis deny accusations of copying 'Together In Electric Dreams' arrangement for Christmas advert

12 November 2021, 15:08

This year's annual John Lewis advert is called 'Unexpected Guest'.
This year's annual John Lewis advert is called 'Unexpected Guest'. Picture: John Lewis

By Thomas Curtis-Horsfall

John Lewis is embroiled in a copyright dispute over the song featured in their latest Christmas advert.

The beloved department store has denied copying an intimate cover version of 'Together In Electric Dreams'.

Lola Young recorded the cover version used in this year's John Lewis famed Christmas advert, titled 'Unexpected Guest’.

Read more: The Story of... 'Together in Electric Dreams' by Phil Oakey and Giorgio Moroder

The original 1984 hit single was recorded by synth pioneer Giorgio Moroder and The Human League's Philip Oakey, and reached No.3 in the UK charts.

It was the lead single from the soundtrack for romantic comedy Electric Dreams that came out the same year.

Somerset alt-folk act The Portraits have claimed that the version used in John Lewis' annual festive ad is almost identical to the version the duo released last year for charities Mind and Cruse Bereavement Support.

Unexpected Guest | John Lewis & Partners | Christmas Ad 2021

Last week they posted a lengthy statement on their Facebook saying they'd sent an offer to John Lewis' marketing team to use their cover version back in March of this year.

“We had a (perhaps naive) dream that we could use a future ad by the company with our soundtrack linked to it to maximise the funds going to those charities,” the duo wrote.

“But instead, it seems John Lewis went with the idea and produced a version borrowing the ‘feeling’ and many elements of the arrangement of our version, without even letting us know they were planning to do so.”

Read more: John Lewis Christmas advert: Department chain and M&S launch campaigns on same day in festive battle

The Somerset duo argue that the classic track “had never been a Christmas song before December 2020”, claiming that John Lewis had pinched the idea from their arrangement.

You can read the full statement from The Portraits here.

Philip Oakey & Giorgio Moroder - Together in Electric Dreams (Official Video)

In response, a spokesperson for John Lewis has stated that there's "no substance to the claims" as the marketing individual contacted left before work on this year's advert began.

“The music that accompanies the ad is always the final element to be added and this year was chosen at the end of October.”

The spokesperson concluded: “The creation of advertising and music is carried out solely by our agency and we are unable to read or consider ideas from other external or internal sources.”

Read more: All the John Lewis Christmas adverts ranked from worst to best

Despite the drama, Lola Young who contributed the soundtrack to this year's festive advert is "honoured" to be involved:

"I feel super honoured to be a part of this, growing up I always watched the John Lewis Christmas adverts, they’re iconic and so it kinda feels surreal getting asked to be in one,” she said.

“It also means a lot as an up and coming artist to be a part of something this special. 'Together In Electric Dreams' is a very beautiful song. I love that era of music and I think Philip Oakey and Giorgio Moroder are incredible.”