BBC Music God Only Knows
BBC has launched a multi-cast music broadcast of the Beach Boys song God Only Knows, starring an “impossible orchestra” comprising an 80-piece BBC concert orchestra, youth choir and 27 well known musicians. Launched simultaneously on October 7 across the BBC’s television, radio and online networks, the music video and single mark the official launch of BBC Music, a combination of new programmes, partnerships and music initiatives. BBC is promoting the ongoing promotional campaign on Twitter using the hashtag #LoveBBCMusic.
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 vocals of the Tees Valley Youth Choir and the BBC Concert Orchestra at its heart.
God Only Knows has been released as a single in a collaboration between Sony, Warner and Universal Music, with all proceeds going to BBC Children in Need.
God Only Knows Visual Effects
Twenty-seven musical stars were filmed on a green screen, before The Mill’s 2D team brought them together to appear in London venue Alexandra Palace. The impossible orchestra was then enhanced with a host of effects created in 2D and 3D including a crystal particle system surrounding Stevie Wonder, Lorde’s CG wings, a kaleidoscope of butterflies sitting on Elton John, Kylie Minogue’s CG bubbles and an exotic jungle backdrop surrounding the original Beach Boy Brian Wilson.
The Mill’s Matte painting team worked on a series of ornate Alexandra Palace backdrops, as well as conceptualising and creating the final ethereal cloud scenes from scratch, which feature fully CG clouds, hot air balloons and the final touch, a small animated feather, seen drifting down to gently rest on Brian Wilson’s piano.
God Only Knows Credits
The BBC Music God Only Knows project was commissioned by Neil Caldicott BBC Director of Marketing and Audiences Radio and developed at Karmarama by executive creative directors Sam Walker and Joe de Souza, account handler Jamie Wylie, planner Dan Hill. Karmarama also designed the artwork for the single.
Filming was shot by director Francois Rousselet via Riff Raff Films and produced at Red Bee Media with producer Joanna Yeldham, directors of photography Ed Wild, Denzil Armour-Brown, Philipp Blaubach, Richard Mott, Michael Pescasio (LA), art directors Morgan Kennedy, Sarah Kane, Melissa Broker (LA), stylist Grace Snell.
Editor was Amanda James at Final Cut.
Post production was done at The Mill by shoot supervisor/2D lead artist Hugo Guerra, executive producer Gemma Humphries, production assistant Clare Melia, 3D cloud lead Hugo Guerra, 3D Cloud lead Adam Droy, 2D lead artist Zoe Casey-Hayes, 2D artists Alex Candlish, Richard McKeand, Grant Connor, Gary Driver, Siro Valente, Kirti Dave, Justin Gros-Desir, Anne-Sofie Tholander, Jeanette Eiternes, Eleanor Risdon, Gianluca Di Marco, 3D artists Adam Droy, Yoann Gouraud, Christos Pariaros, Michael Balthazart, Margaux Huneau, Luke Tickner, Adam Dewhirst, Vasilis Pazionis, Philip Maddock, Fabrice Le Nezet, Jules Janaud, Daniel Kmet, Emmanuel Strixner, Ashley Reemul, Hugo Jackson, Giancomo Cavalletti, matte painting team Can Y Sanalan, Sullivan Richard and German Casado, colourist Mick Vincent, and executive producer Luke Colson.
Sound was designed by Munzie Thind at Grand Central.
Music was produced by Ethan Johns and Ken Nelson.
A Line by Line Breakdown
BBC Concert Orchestra
Martin James Bartlett – celeste
Pharrell Williams – I may not always love you
Emeli Sandé – But as long as there are stars above you
Elton John – You never need to doubt it
Lorde – I’ll make you so sure about it
Chris Martin – God only knows what I’d be without you
Brian Wilson – If you should ever leave me
Florence Welch – Well life would still go on believe me
Kylie Minogue – The world could show nothing to me
Stevie Wonder – So what good would living do me
Eliza Carthy – God only knows what I’d be without you
Nicola Benedetti – violin
Jools Holland – piano
Brian May – electric guitar
Jake Bugg – lalalala
Katie Derham – violin
Tees Valley Youth Choir – God only knows
Alison Balsom – piccolo trumpet
One Direction – God only knows what I’d be without you
Jaz Dhami – God only knows what I’d be without you
Paloma Faith – God only knows what I’d be without you
Chrissie Hynde – God only knows
Jamie Cullum – God only knows what I’d be without you
Baaba Maal – God only knows
Danielle de Niese – God only knows what I’d be without you
Dave Grohl – God only knows
Sam Smith – God only knows what I’d be without you
Brian Wilson – God only knows what I’d be without you
BBC Concert Orchestra – Led by Principal Conductor Keith Lockhart
Martin James Bartlett – BBC Young Musician of the Year 2014
Pharrell Williams – N*E*R*D front man, solo artist and producer
Emeli Sandé – 2012’s bestselling artist in the UK
Elton John – International award-winning performer
Lorde – Youngest singer to top the Billboard Hot 100 in a quarter-century
Chris Martin – Multi-award winning Coldplay singer and songwriter
Brian Wilson – The Beach Boys founding member and front man
Florence Welch – Florence and the Machine’s leading lady and BBC Introducing alumni
Kylie Minogue – Aussie pop star and actress
Stevie Wonder – Motown’s biggest selling artist
Eliza Carthy – Yorkshire born international folk star
Nicola Benedetti – Former BBC Young Musician of the Year and international selling violinist
Jools Holland – Later… host, Radio 2 presenter and Squeeze pianist
Brian May – Queen’s lead guitarist and rock legend
Jake Bugg – BBC Introducing graduate and solo star
Katie Derham – BBC Radio 3 and BBC Arts presenter
Tees Valley Youth Choir – Young North East collective
Alison Balsom – Trumpet soloist and former BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artist
One Direction – Global boy band phenomenon
Jaz Dhami – Birmingham born Bhangra sensation
Paloma Faith – British pop songstress
Chrissie Hynde – The Pretenders founding female
Jamie Cullum – Modern Jazz vocalist/pianist and host of Radio 2 jazz show
Baaba Maal – Senegalese Pulaar singer and guitarist
Danielle de Niese – Renowned Australian lyric soprano
Dave Grohl – Nirvana, Foo Fighters and Queens of the Stone Age rock god
Sam Smith – BBC Sound of 2014 winner and transatlantic No.1 selling artist
God Only Knows – A Potted History
God Only Knows has reached almost mythical status in the pop canon. Written and produced by Brian Wilson with lyricist Tony Asher and younger brother Carl Wilson on vocals, it was released in 1966 as part of The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds album. It reached Number 2 in the UK and Number 39 in the US Charts.
It has become one of the most lauded tracks of all time. Rolling Stone placed it at 25 in their 500 Greatest Songs of All Time and in 2006, Pitchfork magazine crowned God Only Knows as the best song of the 1960s saying: “God Only Knows is so ideally conceptualized and realized, critics can’t help but support it. Somehow, even that can’t turn it into an art exhibit; its humanity resists the attempt. To me, this song is a goodbye to being a kid, and hoping that love actually is the answer.”
The original album track notes say “Even during the writing of the song, Brian and Tony Asher knew God Only Knows was going to be something special. Asher said: God Only Knows is, to me, one of the great songs of our time. I mean the great songs. Not because I wrote the lyrics, but because it is an amazing piece of music that we were able to write a very compelling lyric to. It’s the simplicity—the inference that ‘I am who I am because of you’—that makes it very personal and tender.”
Part of its appeal lies in the complex musical structure and range of instruments not often associated with pop – including the very distinctive French horn – with a quartet of strings adding texture through their counterpoint.
The song is told from the point of view of a man or woman facing life after the death of a loved one and it’s a firm favourite amongst musicians as well as pop aficionados. Many have been affected by the emotional power of its simplicity and honesty. And there have been many notable cover versions from Elvis Costello and the Brodsky Quartet to David Bowie and the Shadows to Joss Stone.
Tagged: Denzil Armour-Brown, Ed Wild, Elton John, Final Cut, Francois Rousselet, Grand Central, Joe De Souza, Karmarama, Michael Pescasio, Munzie Thind, One Direction, Pharrell Williams, Philipp Blaubach, Red Bee Creative, Richard Mott, Riff Raff Films, Sam Walker, The Mill