The department store John Lewis has denied copying a lo-fi arrangement of the song Together in Electric Dreams for use on their 2021 Christmas advert, according to the BBC.
UK alt-folk duo The Portraits said the new ad resembles their reworking of the Human League electro-pop hit, which they released last year for charity.
The slow orchestral piano version featured their daughter on vocals.
Now the John Lewis rendition, which launched last week, is softly sung by 20-year-old Lola Young.
The group – aka Jeremy and Lorraine Millington from Wells, Somerset – wrote on Facebook that they contacted John Lewis in March 2021 to offer up the track for consideration for this year’s ad but did not receive a reply.
They believe the new version is “borrowing the feeling and many elements of the arrangement” of their own – which was released to raise money for bereavement and mental health charities during lockdown.
John Lewis said in a statement to the BBC, which first appeared in The Guardian, that the duo did email a member of the marketing department but she left the company, adding that there is “no substance” to their claims. It noted how there are other covers of the song – written by Philip Oakey and Giorgio Moroder – in existence.
The company’s new advert tells the story of a friendship between a boy and an alien visitor – the titular Unexpected Guest.
The Portraits’ previous music video showed photographs of people who had died due to coronavirus, and included musical accompaniment from of Wells Lockdown Orchestra.
“Our version was a fundraising song aimed at supporting bereavement and mental health organisations that have needed the money more than ever during the pandemic,” they posted.