Meet Gabrielle Aplin - the 20-year-old unsigned YouTube star whose haunting voice appears on John Lewis' Christmas advert


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The Independent Culture

Until today, indie-folk singer Gabrielle Aplin’s fame has been limited to her army of YouTube fans. Now she is being tipped for the Christmas number one after her haunting version of The Power Of Love was chosen by John Lewis to soundtrack its blockbuster Christmas advertising campaign.

“It’s like winning the X Factor,” said Aplin, 20, after she landed a slot which is now one of the most sought after in the music industry – the musical accompaniment to a Christmas television campaign which has become more talked-about than the programmes surrounding it.

The Bath singer-songwriter’s version of Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s 1984 chart-topper will be given its premiere on Channel 4 tonight. The song accompanies a heart-melting 90-second John Lewis advert following a snowman’s magical journey to find the perfect gift for his wife.

Last year, the John Lewis campaign turned The Smiths’ Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want, interpreted by Slow Moving Millie, into a mournful, surprise hit.

Aplin, who set up a DIY record label aged 17 to release her own songs and notched up 2.5 million YouTube views for her single Home, actively lobbied John Lewis to sing this year’s song.

“I always looked forward to the adverts and I’ve been pestering them for a long time to cover a song,” she told the Independent. “I think they went through every female singer-songwriter in the country to find the right person. I can’t believe it’s actually happened. It potentially could be number one - but I don’t expect it to.”

Her good fortune placed Aplin in a dilemma. The Power Of Love will be rush-released tomorrow, forcing Aplin to cancel her first single for EMI’s Parlophone label, which was due next week.

She took to Twitter and Facebook to apologise to her loyal fans, telling them “sometimes I have to do things I dont want to do and make hard choices.”

“I had to let my fans know,” she said. “I was scared a lot of people would get annoyed and cancel their pre-orders for the single but fortunately everyone has said they are very happy for me.”

Aplin, who cites Nick Drake and Joni Mitchell as musical inspirations, hopes that she isn’t seen as a “sell-out”. With music sales in decline, advertisements are an important income stream for musicians and Aplin would like to see her own songs used next in a BT campaign and on film soundtracks.

However she won’t be glued to the television when her advert premieres tonight (Friday). “I don’t have a TV so I’ll be watching it online,” she said. “Maybe I’ll Face Time my mum when she’s watching it. It’s very exciting.”

The self-taught pianist, who says she normally shuns the “industry madness”, will be whisked to Radio 1 tomorrow to talk about the single. She hopes her version doesn’t disappoint grown-up 80s pop fans, a demographic John Lewis consistently targets. “I don’t want to annoy all the hardcore Frankie fans because it’s a classic song. Hopefully I’ve made it my own.”

Aplin, who begins a UK tour at The Wardrobe in Leeds next week, may soon find herself filling bigger venues. She promises fans who ordered her intended next single, Please Don’t Say You Love Me, that they will receive it as an anti-Valentine message, in February.