The newly launched BBC Music released one of the most impressive collaborations of all time. The music video, a cover of The Beach Boys' "God Only Knows," includes an all-star cast of 27 artists, including Elton John, One Direction, Sam Smith, Lorde, Dave Grohl, Stevie Wonder, Pharrell Williams, Coldplay's Chris Martin and Beach Boy legend himself — Brian Wilson.
"God Only Knows" simultaneously promotes the launch of BBC Music and awareness of the BBC Children in Need charity, with proceeds of the single, available for donation starting at midnight, going to the campaign.
The fantastical video is set in the Alexandra Palace theatre in London — the same theatre that held the first BBC broadcast over 90 years ago — and features a different musician on every line of the song, alongside various choirs and orchestras. It premiered across BBC video platforms and radio streams, and several artists tweeted their excitement leading up to the final unveil.
Karmarama, the ad agency responsible for putting it all together, mentions that "God Only Knows" has been over two years in the making.
"The brief was to show the BBC's unique contribution to the world of music," Sam Walker, Karmarama creative director, told Creative Review. "It's not just a platform and curator but it also supports and develops new talent, and pushes the boundaries.
"It was a bit of a strange process, we knew we were starting a journey but we didn't quite know where it was going to end up."
It ended up in a great place. The video is admittedly light, but there's something delightful in its genius blending of artists that span genres and musical tastes. It's part of a rich legacy, too. In 1997, a similar video was released as a cover to Lou Reed's "Perfect Day" and featured Reed along with David Bowie, Bono and Emmylou Harris, among others.
It'll be interesting to see exactly where BBC Music is headed, as this collaboration represents the "first time the entire BBC operation has been commandeered for one purpose." If music can bring such a huge organization together, then perhaps it really can make the difference the network is promising.
As the video claims in its final moments: It's really all just "for the love of music."