The best songs used in Christmas adverts

Yes, half of them are from John Lewis... And yes, most of them will make you cry.

Christmas adverts have become their own genre of cinema in recent years, with companies battling it out to create the most irresistible characters and tear-jerking storylines. Often, the soundtracks to these ads play an integral part in their success – who among us can hear Gabrielle Aplin’s ‘The Power Of Love’ without imagining the sad John Lewis snowman? Equally, a popular ad can send an artist soaring into the Top 40, maybe for the first time ever. Here are some of our favourite songs used in Christmas adverts. Read ’em and weep.

‘Come Out And Play’ – Billie Eilish

Apple / Share Your Gifts (World)

Eilish and her brother Finneas wrote this track specifically for Apple’s 2018 advert, which encourages creatives to share their gifts with the world. Tenderer than much of Eilish’s discography, it suits its purpose beautifully without being explicitly tied to a particular season. There’s life beyond Christmas adverts for this one.

‘The Power Of Love’ – Gabrielle Aplin

John Lewis Christmas advert 2012 Snowman

One of many John Lewis songs on this list, because the retail giant knows how to commission a beautiful cover. This one is from the brand’s 2012 ad which depicts a love story between two snowmen (snowpeople?). Aplin is at her best on a stripped-back piano track and delivers some truly otherworldly vocals in this cover of a Frankie Goes To Hollywood original.

‘Treat People With Kindness’ – Harry Styles

M&S | Gifts that give | 2022 Christmas advert

This year’s M&S Christmas clothing advert borrows from the megastar’s discography. The ad depicts a series of gift giving exchanges culminating in a huge Christmas street party, as Hazza and a gospel choir belt out this less memorable but still enjoyable offering from 2019’s Fine Line.

‘Your Song’ – Ellie Goulding

John Lewis Christmas Advert 2010 Ft. Ellie Goulding Your Song

Goulding saw huge chart success with her cover of Elton John’s ‘Your Song’, back in relatively simpler times for John Lewis ads. Over footage of people preparing for gift-giving season, Goulding’s breathy, dreamy vocals make an unremarkable ad memorable.

‘Song For You’ – Alexi Murdoch

Special Because (Boots, 2014)

Boots’ 2014 Christmas ad, ‘Special Because’, is an ode to healthcare staff and those who have to work on Christmas. It’s tenderly soundtracked by Alexi Murdoch, whose soft acoustic guitar-driven ‘Song For You’ makes for moving listening.

‘Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want’ – Slow Moving Millie

John Lewis Christmas Advert 2011 The Long Wait

John Lewis’ 2011 advert, ‘The Long Wait’, still stands out as one of their simplest and best. This vulnerable cover of The Smiths’ ‘Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want’ from Slow Moving Millie takes it to new heights.

‘I’m Going Back’ – Chas & Dave

Coming Home for Christmas | Heathrow Airport

This jaunty tune from rock-pop duo Chas & Dave isn’t obvious Christmas ad music at first listen, but its non-manipulative sincerity is what makes it so appealing. The duo sing over a pair of travelling teddy bears in Heathrow Airport’s 2016 advert, ‘Coming Home For Christmas’.

‘Half The World Away’ – Aurora

John Lewis “Man On The Moon”

Norwegian singer Aurora is known for her distinctively ethereal vocals, so it’s really a wonder that she hadn’t already been recruited for a John Lewis advert before 2015. Her cover of Oasis’ ‘Half The World Away’ soundtracked one of their most popular ads, ‘The Man In The Moon’, which chronicles a friendship between a little girl and an old man in the sky.

‘Time After Time’ – Mabel

Imaginary Iggy | Christmas | McDonald's UK

English pop singer Mabel lent her voice to this stripped-back Cindy Lauper cover for the McDonalds Christmas advert in 2021. Titled ‘Imaginary Iggy’, this story of a girl and her imaginary friend set to Mabel’s gentle vocals is one of the biggest tearjerkers on this list.

‘Real Love’ – Tom Odell

Monty The Penguin (John Lewis, 2014)

Tom Odell on a Beatles cover is truly something magical. His mesmerising vocals meant that even the Christmas advert cynics could find something to enjoy in John Lewis’ 2014 ‘Monty The Penguin’ offering.

‘Love Is A Compass’ – Griff

FROM OUR FAMILY TO YOURS | Disney Christmas Advert 2020 | Official Disney UK

Disney recruited singer-songwriter Griff to soundtrack their 2020 Christmas advert, a short film called ‘From Our Family To Yours’. As a family explore the traditions that connect them throughout generations, Griff sings a power ballad about the guiding principle of love.

‘Love Runs Deeper’ – Gregory Porter, CHERISE

THE STEPDAD | Disney Christmas Advert 2021 | Official Disney UK

Gregory Porter’s rich vocals tell the story of someone entering a family and figuring out how to find their place, a perfect soundtrack to the second installment in Disney’s Christmas ad story, ‘The Stepdad’.

‘Somewhere Only We Know’ – Lily Allen

Classic John Lewis Christmas Advert 2013 The Bear and the Hare

Another of John Lewis’ most famous offerings, Allen’s cover soundtracked an animated friendship between a bear and a hare. Allen delivers a truly magical cover of the Keane track, full of warmth and sincerity.

‘Here Come The Girls’ – Ernie K-Doe

Boots Here Come the Girls Ad - 2008

Back before every Christmas advert had to leave you in a puddle of your own tears, Ernie K-Doe’s upbeat track made its way into a 2008 Boots Christmas advert. Celebrating a good office Christmas party, the advert sees the women in the workplace getting dolled up as Ernie sings.

‘Electric Dreams’ – Lola Young

Unexpected Guest | John Lewis & Partners | Christmas Ad 2021

Whilst last year’s John Lewis advert was – let’s face it – no one’s favourite, the smoky vocals of up and coming British singer-songwriter Lola Young are worth revisiting. Her cover of Philip Oakey and Giorgio Moroder’s ‘Together In Electric Dreams’ is restrained, dreamy and truly stunning.

‘You Don’t Own Me’ – Grace ft G-Eazy

House of Fraser Christmas Advert 2015 #YourRules ft Grace & G Eazy

House Of Frazer went against the grain in 2015 when they chose to use this triumphant cover of Lesley Gore’s ‘You Don’t Own Me’ by Australian singer Grace and rapper G-Eazy. Grace manages to capture the spirit of the original whilst adding her own modern twist to Gore’s independence anthem.

‘Golden Slumbers’ – Elbow

Watch the John Lewis Christmas ad 2017

This Beatles cover is a personal favourite. Elbow’s stirring vocals capture all the emotion of the original in this understated rendition, beautifully soundtracking John Lewis’ tale of a little boy and the monster under his bed.

Honorary Mention: ‘You Get What You Give’ – The North Star and Friends x Sainsbury’s

The Big Night | Sainsbury's Ad | Christmas 2018

How could we resist adding in this adorable choir?