John Lewis Christmas ad stars Elton John and his sadly normal sitting room. Could it be real?

No dyed purple swans? No jewelled obelisks? This is disappointing, writes Patrick Freyne

John Lewis have released their Christmas advert for 2018, this time starring Elton John singing 'Your Song'. Video: John lewis

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I always suspected that when I died Elton John’s life would pass before my eyes. This is the theme of John Lewis’s Christmas ad. Every year the UK department store extrapolates from a universal experience – the love of a child for his stuffed penguin, for example, or the joy of a pet on a trampoline, or the tragedy of aging and death – in order to extract our delicious tear juice thus lubricating our desire to buy Christmas presents.

This year the universal experience they have chosen is the universal experience of being multimillionaire pop star Elton John. The ad begins with Sir Elton looking a bit sad, probably because of Brexit, as he plays his hit Your Song beside a Christmas tree in his dressing gown. It’s a surprisingly normal looking sitting room – there are no dyed purple swans or jewel encrusted obelisks and his dressing gown isn’t spun gold or anything. This is a bit disappointing to be honest. I’m going to presume that it’s not even Christmas and he has a Christmas tree up all year round and they filmed this in July.

Tye new John Lewis Christmas ad feature Elton John in a story called The Boy and the Piano. Photograph: John Lewis & Partners/PA
The new John Lewis Christmas ad feature Elton John in a story called The Boy and the Piano. Photograph: John Lewis & Partners/PA
Photograph: John Lewis & Partners/PA
Photograph: John Lewis & Partners/PA
Photograph: John Lewis & Partners/PA
Photograph: John Lewis & Partners/PA

We then see him singing Your Song on a big stage with a big red heart behind him. And then we see a younger Elton John belting the song out on front of an arena of screaming fans. Even younger Elton John then sings it to some hippies on a private jet. Then there’s a TV performance of the song and a snippet of the original studio recording.

Yes, it’s like that Always a Woman ad of a few years ago except instead of aging we see Elton de-aging and instead of featuring a silly old nobody like you, you loser, it features Ivor Novello award-winning songwriter Elton John.

Surprise, Surprise, it’s a piano. Photograph: John Lewis & Partners/PA
Surprise, Surprise, it’s a piano. Photograph: John Lewis & Partners/PA

Before we know it we’re watching a bespectacled child rattle out some rock’n’roll piano for a Knees-up Mother Brown-style shindig at an English pub, a smaller child playing a musical recital in a school hall and, finally, the kicker, a tiny child who looks remarkably like Elton John (presumably played by Elton himself using de-aging make up and mirrors) stumbling down the stairs on Christmas morning. There, in his front room, he finds a huge piano-shaped present. Spoiler alert – the present is a piano. Elton junior begins to play it.

The message is clear: this is where it all started. If Elton’s doting mother had given him something else that Christmas – a plastic gun or a L’il Businessman Activity Playset or a load of mysterious eggs – it might all be different now and adult Elton John would now be in a different sitting room stroking an M16 or cradling a jargon-strewn white board or carefully tending to his mysterious eggs.

But no, Elton got a piano, and we are then left to ponder present-day Elton melancholically tinkering away at it while thinking about his past and/or Brexit.

Here are my takeaways

  • Take-away 1: We are all ultimately alone.
  • Take-away 2: We are all Elton John.
  • Take-away 3: Buy a piano from John Lewis and your child may also be Elton John.
  • Take-away 4: Rethink giving your child the pile of mysterious eggs you purchased from that strange curiosity shop attendant.
  • Take-away 5: Happy Christmas?
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