Elton John’s new Christmas ad for British department store giant John Lewis has gone viral hours after its launch on Wednesday night (British time).
Celebrity supporters, including James Corden (“Holy sh-t … this commercial”) and Josh Groban, raved about the two minute, 20 second ad, with a Cosmpolitan writer admitting to crying “thousands of tears” while watching it.
After being shared by Corden via Liverpool’s Radio City station, ‘The Boy and the Piano’ racked up 5.42. million views in just over 24 hours.
Described as “perfect” by fans and “heartwarming” by mainstream media, the ad shows Sir Elton’s rise to fame to the tune of Your Song.
It begins in the present day, with megastar father-of-two Elton, 71, playing piano in the present day, then moves backwards through his Rocket Man glory days at Wembley, retro bus tours, small clubs and early days in the recording studio.
The last scene is the famous singer as a child, unwrapping a piano for Christmas. It’s a gift from his mother Sheila Farebrother, who died three weeks before Christmas last year at age 92.
— Elton John (@eltonofficial) November 15, 2018
The unusual ad is low on tinsel, commercialism, pavlovas toted by beaming grannies and hams on the bone. There’s no Christmas jingle or obvious push to buy things, just a Santa sack load of poignancy and gentle nostalgia.
The ad is so “sweet”, warned the British Guardian, that it could bode ill for its star: “Somebody better call Elton John an ambulance right away, because this is exactly the sort of thing that happens right before you die.”
Twitter was inundated with praise for the ad and John Lewis, whose Christmas ads are the “one thing guaranteed to get Brits in the mood for mistletoe and wine”, according to The Telegraph.
The retailer’s big budget campaign has been a fixture of the consumer festive season calendar since 2007. Elton’s tearjerker followed last year’s young boy and his imaginary monster. In 2016, the store went for comedy with a bouncing boxer dog called Buster.
“Best ad ever,” said one Twitter user. “Just loved it. So many memories with that song,” said another.
“I wanted to hate this advert for a few reasons … but it’s f—ing awesome,” wrote a third. Another said the ad was “better than 1000 puppies”.
Los Angeles morning TV host Allie Mac Kay posted she “made the mistake of watching it during a commercial break on our show. So beautiful.”
It was noted that the ad is inspirational and historically accurate:
But not everyone was an unbridled fan.
One Twitter user asked if Sir Elton was pocketing a giant fee, or if proceeds were going to charity.
“A donation has been made to the Elton John Charitable Trust and the ad is supporting our school skills program,” John Lewis replied.
And in a social media backlash, there were complaints the ad isn’t Christmassy enough, and that parents motivated to buy a piano for their child at John Lewis would be up for a shade over $1400.
They were largely slammed down.
“It’s not about the piano,” pointed out one tweet. “It’s about mum loving providing a springboard of love.”