Slow Moving Millie is an actress/singer who was born Amelia Catherine Ekblom in Liverpool, Merseyside, to actress Annette Ekblom and actor Alun Lewis. After deciding to follow her parents in the acting profession, she won herself roles in television (Casualty, Lorna Doone and feature films Mansfield Park, Aeon Flux under the name of Amelia Warner. She also had a brief marriage with Hellraiser actor Colin Farrell between July and November 2001.
Having already composed music for several short films, Warner wrote and performed the song "Beasts" under the name "Slow Moving Millie" for a Virgin Media television commercial in the summer of 2009. The track was released as a single on 17 August 2009 and its follow-up, "Rewind City," was used for another advertisement for Orange UK. In October 2011, Warner signed a record deal with Island Records and released an album, Renditions containing versions of 80s songs redone in a piano ballad style. They included this track, which originally featured on the flip side of The Smiths' early single "William, It Was Really Nothing."
"Slow Moving Millie" is a nickname given to Warner by her friends because they believed she was pursuing her music career with insufficient energy.
This song was selected as the soundtrack to the John Lewis 2011 Christmas advertising campaign and was released as a single in the UK on November 11, 2011. John Lewis's Marketing Director Craig Inglis told The Daily Telegraph that Smiths vocalist and lyricist Morrissey was "delighted" that the retail chain wanted to use the song. "It wasn't a long and difficult road actually," he said "It was relatively straightforward getting the rights. We approached the record company [Rough Trade] and Morrissey back in July, and they gave their approval. It is an iconic track from an iconic British band. We know our audience holds The Smiths and bands from that era in high esteem".
Other artists that have recorded the song include Amanda Palmer
, Clayhill, The Decemberists, Deftones, The Dream Academy, Franz Ferdinand, Hootie & the Blowfish, Muse, OK Go, She & Him and Third Eye Blind. The Dream Academy version peaked at #83 in the UK Singles Chart in 1984.
Notable uses of the song on screen include an instrumental rendering of Dream Academy's version, which was used during the Art Institute scene in the movie Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Also British band Clayhill's cover can be heard at the end of the Shane Meadows film This Is England. The Smiths' original version featured in the Christmas special finale of the UK TV comedy Extras, which was broadcast in the UK in December 2007.
Most of the '80s tracks that Warner covers are full of huge synths and electric drums and her intention was to get at the song underneath. However she performed this Smiths ballad of existential despair straight. "It is so perfect I wouldn't have the audacity to change it. I connected a piece of myself to it; it just resonated, something came through," Warner told The Daily Telegraph.
Warner told The Independent newspaper why she chose to sing '80s music on her debut album: "I think '80 music can get a bad rap because of the naff way it was produced," she explained. "The lyrics are really dark, but are trussed up in these manic assaults of melody and sound. But underneath they're actually all really poignant songs, and they're all about having your heart broken."
Warner explained to Digital Spy
that it was her manager who got her involved with the John Lewis ad. She said: "It was a situation where they knew what song they wanted and had sent it out to lots of different artists. I was recording my covers album anyway, and my manager asked me to try it out without telling me what it was for. It was about two months later when I found out it was being used for the advert."