BBC Music, the new brand for music across the corporation, has launched with TV and radio outlets simulcasting a special new charity recording of the Beach Boys song God Only Knows.
The track premiered at 8pm across all BBC radio and television services and features artists including Elton John, Stevie Wonder, One Direction, Kylie Minogue, Sam Smith, Brian May, Pharrell, Chrissie Hynde and Beach Boys legend Brian Wilson. From BBC Two to BBC Asian Network, BBC World News to BBC Radio Cumbria, all of the BBC’s outlets joined forces in the very first pan-channel broadcast.
Bob Shennan, Director of Music at the BBC (and also Controller of BBC Radio 2 and 6 Music), wrote in a blog: “I wanted to launch BBC Music, the BBC’s strongest commitment to music in 30 years, on a grand scale with a film and song that audiences would enjoy for years to come. And I’m proud to say I think we’ve done just that. The launch of God Only Knows marks a significant moment for the BBC – an extraordinary performance featuring 27 of the most iconic and acclaimed music artists in the world, brought together by the BBC to form ‘The Impossible Orchestra’.”
The corporation says that the BBC Music brand will support and champion the best music and musicians across the BBC, bringing the very best music to audiences across Radio, Television, and Online.
God Only Knows will be on sale to raise money for Children In Need and also features BBC presenters including Jamie Cullum, Katie Derham, Jools Holland, Lauren Laverne, Zane Lowe and Gareth Malone. The BBC Concert Orchestra provides the musical backing, with Stevie Wonder even popping up on harmonica.
Bob Shennan added: “Music is hugely important to the BBC, and the BBC is a key supporter of the UK music industry. We take this responsibility seriously, and this is why we’ve gone further than ever before and have created a film that will hopefully be watched and enjoyed for many years to come. On 11 December we will hold the first BBC Music Awards, a celebration of British music, and music on the BBC and we’ll be announcing more details about the Awards in the next few weeks. BBC Music will bring audiences some of the finest and most popular national events across popular and classical music.”
Brian Wilson said: “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.”
The artists appearing on the track with Brian Wilson are: Sir Elton John, One Direction, Stevie Wonder, Pharrell Williams, Jake Bugg, Lorde, Emeli Sandé, Chris Martin, Kylie Minogue, Paloma Faith, Sam Smith, Florence Welch, Chrissie Hynde, Brian May, 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 of course the BBC Concert Orchestra.
Music producer Ethan Johns said: “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 video for the promo was filmed at the Alexandra Palace Theatre – home of the first ever BBC broadcast over 90 years ago.
Watch the video above, or click here if it’s not showing plus to watch a behind the scenes film.