REO Speedwagon star Kevin Cronin has admitted he had never heard of John Lewis before a cover of his hit Can’t Fight This Feeling was featured in the retailer’s Christmas advert.
The 1984 hit by the US rock band has been recorded by Bastille singer Dan Smith for the department store’s first joint Christmas campaign with Waitrose, featuring an exuberant young dragon called Edgar who almost derails festivities in his fire-breathing excitement.
However, Cronin said he was not familiar with John Lewis or the anticipation that surrounds its annual festive ad, before his song was used.
He told the PA news agency: “I can’t say that I did (know about John Lewis) and I’ve spent some time over in the UK, we have toured there a number of times.
“We were there for five weeks the year before last and we were there at Christmas time too.
“We toured the whole month of December 2016 with Status Quo and it was so much fun being in the UK at Christmas time because every city that we went to was decked out with holiday decorations and I really got a taste of how Christmas is celebrated in England and Scotland.
“People really get into it over there, which I loved, so I’m surprised that I wasn’t aware of the John Lewis thing because every day, when I’m in cities that I’m not all that familiar with, I like to just get out and walk around, especially in the UK.
“If I’m playing in Manchester that night, I want to experience Manchester during the day, if I’m playing in Liverpool, wherever I am, I want to feel it so I can bring some of that vibe into the performance, and this year was the first time the John Lewis advert was brought to my attention and the amount of anticipation and excitement that is generated by this annual Christmas advert is pretty remarkable.”
Cronin, who has recorded his own Christmas music – the album Not So Silent Night … Christmas With REO Speedwagon – said it was an “honour” to have his track used, adding: “As a songwriter there is no better compliment than having a great singer cover one of your songs.
“That is one of my favourite things in life, when I hear other singers sing my songs, and usually the first time I hear it I’m horrified immediately and then, as I listen to it more, I go ‘Oh, I see’ and it kind of grows on me.
“So the Dan Smith version is starting to grow on me and he definitely puts a different spin on the song, he puts a certain grit, a certain power into it that I don’t remember him singing like that on the other Bastille songs, that I’m aware of. It’s like he steps into a different zone in his interpretation of the song as well.”