BBC Music has created a unique broadcasting and musical moment spanning the BBC’s television, radio and online networks.From BBC One to BBC Radio 6 Music, BBC iPlayer to BBC Radio Cornwall, BBC outlets joined forces in the very first pan-channel broadcast of God Only Knows, an extraordinary reworking of The Beach Boys’ classic song uniting 27 internationally acclaimed artists from across the musical genres to form ‘The Impossible Orchestra’.
God Only Knows will be released as a single in aid of BBC Children in Need. It is now available to download.
Bob Shennan, Director BBC Music said, “This is an exciting moment for BBC Music as we launch to a global audience. With the 80-piece BBC Concert Orchestra at its heart and comprising an array of iconic music stars, from a wide range of musical genres, this ‘impossible’ orchestra is a celebration of all the talent, diversity and musical passion found every single day throughout the BBC.
“Our audiences are very clear in their passion for music and that’s why BBC Music exists: to create, curate and celebrate music – for the love of it.”
God Only Knows features the song’s original writer and creator, Brian Wilson, alongside 26 award-winning musicians including popular music stars Sir Elton John, One Direction, Stevie Wonder, Pharrell Williams, Jake Bugg, Lorde, Emeli Sandé, Chris Martin, Kylie Minogue, Paloma Faith, Sam Smith and Florence Welch; rock musicians Chrissie Hynde, Brian May and Dave Grohl; classical musicians Alison Balsom, Martin James Bartlett, Danielle de Niese and Nicola Benedetti; folk performer Eliza Carthy; Senegalese singer Baaba Maal; jazz performer Jamie Cullum; British Asian Music star Jaz Dhami; the BBC’s Zane Lowe, Lauren Laverne, Katie Derham, Gareth Malone and Jools Holland; with the youthful vocals of the Tees Valley Youth Choir and the BBC Concert Orchestra at its heart.
This extraordinary version of God Only Knows is the calling card for BBC Music around the world.
Recognised as a modern masterpiece, Brian Wilson himself says: “I just feel so incredibly humbled that the BBC would choose God Only Knows to promote their new music initiative.
“All of the artists did such a beautiful job I can’t thank them enough. I’m just honoured that God Only Knows was chosen. God Only Knows is a very special song. An extremely spiritual song and one of the best I’ve ever written.”
Music producer Ethan Johns adds: “One of the things that interested me most about this project was the idea of bringing together so many different styles of music and as a great opportunity to bring the musical community together in celebration of the thing that we all love. To make so much diversity work within one piece of music was quite a challenge. I feel like I’ve taken a 1000-piece puzzle and just thrown it in the air. I’m standing there trying to grab them as they come down and put them into place.”
The film is situated in the seemingly disused and decayed Alexandra Palace Theatre – home of the first ever BBC broadcast over 90 years ago – which is brought to life by a magical performance of God Only Knows. As the track builds, the theatrical space opens up to reveal a fantastical and moving world, with a tropical rainforest, a tiger, birds, butterflies and giant bubbles. Viewers are transported high above the orchestra into a balloon-filled celestial sky, before finally being delivered back into the empty theatre, where the song’s creator and star of the performance, Brian Wilson, sings the final line.