The department store unveiled their much-anticipated 2021 ad last week, which features a slowed-down version of the classic 80s track sung by up and coming singer Lola Young.
However, alt-folk group The Portraits have claimed the version resembles their own take on the song, which they recorded with a collective of choral and orchestral musicians last Christmas, in memory of those who lost their lives during the pandemic.
They previously offered up their arrangement – which helped raise money for bereavement and mental health organisations – to the retailer for consideration, after “many had told us how much like a John Lewis ad it was”.
The duo – made up of Jeremy and Lorraine Millington from Wells, Somerset – told the Guardian that they sent John Lewis’ head of marketing the track in March this year, but did not receive a reply.
“On the one hand, it feels like a vindication of our musical ideas,” the band said in a post on Facebook. “We can’t pretend otherwise.
“On the other, it feels like a heartless betrayal of all that those musical ideas were being used to represent.”
They added: “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.”
However, a John Lewis spokesperson has said The Portraits addressed their email a person who went on to leave the business in June, and was also not involved in this year’s Christmas ad campaign.
They there is “no substance” to the band’s claims, adding in a statement: “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.”
Together In Electric Dreams was originally a collaboration between pop pioneer Giorgio Moroder and Human League frontman Phil Oakley.
Lola Young’s version debuted last week as John Lewis unveiled their festive ad campaign, which sees Skye the alien celebrating her very first Christmas.