The other day I was playing a game with my three year old daughter in which we were making up funny songs, based on themes that we each took turns to suggest. So, I had to come up with songs about sheep, or busses, or cakes, for example. One song that she sang sounded particularly happy and upbeat – a fun kid’s song. Just out of curiosity, I then asked her to sing me a ‘sad song’, and what she did was (a) hilarious, and (b) really interesting. She basically just sung the same melody but slower, in a breathy, fragile voice, and did so while pretending to look ‘sad’ (in the same way that a mime-artist might do). This was wonderful as it linked directly to something that has been floating around in my head for the last few Christmases. Namely, the phenomenon of the ‘Christmas advert’ – typified by those for John Lewis(a UK department store), for example – which seem to have become (inter)national events, in recent years.
Most people reading this, certainly those from the UK will be familiar with the phenomenon that I am referring to. Essentially, these are adverts (commercials) that last for approximately 2 minutes in which a supposedly heartwarming, Christmas (or winter, at least) narrative is played out, often with an emotional message or display of seasonal good will. Importantly, however, the songs used in each of the adverts are cover versions of famous pop songs. If you are not sure what I am referring to then the following example is the most recent John Lewis advert (‘The Man on The Moon’) featuring a cover version of ‘Half the World Away’, by Oasis.