BBC Music

Launches with God Only Knows, a star-studded film featuring 'The Impossible Orchestra'

BBC Music launches with special reworking of God Only Knows

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.Bob Shennan, Director, BBC Music
Date: 07.10.2014     Last updated: 22.10.2014 at 14.42
Category: BBC Music
BBC Music has created a unique broadcasting and musical moment spanning the BBC’s television, radio and online networks at 8pm on Tuesday 7 October.

From BBC One to BBC Radio 6 Music, BBC iPlayer to BBC Radio Cornwall, BBC outlets will join 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’.

The promotional film marks the official launch of BBC Music - an ambitious wave of new programmes, innovative partnerships and ground-breaking music initiatives that amount to the BBC’s strongest commitment to music in 30 years.

God Only Knows will be released as a single in aid of BBC Children in Need. It will be available to download from midnight on Tuesday 7 October.

Bob Shennan, Director BBC Music, says: “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.”

One of the music producers Ethan John (who produced and mixed the track along with Ken Nelson) 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.

Bringing the UK Music Industry together for the first time, in aid of Children in Need

God Only Knows will be released as a single in a first-time collaboration between Sony, Warner and Universal Music with all proceeds going to BBC Children in Need. It will be available to download from midnight on Tuesday 7 October and will be available in shops later that week.

David Ramsden, BBC Children in Need Chief Executive, said: “We are really excited by this amazing collaboration. The money raised will help us to change the lives of thousands of children and young people right here in the UK.”

BBC Music will build on the huge range and depth of its music programming, will innovate further in Digital, expand the development of new music talent, and bring audiences ambitious and landmark musical moments on primetime television.

BBC Music already broadcasts over 41,000 hours of content a year across television and radio spanning all genres, showcasing the best emerging UK talent through more than 15 new talent schemes, bringing audiences some of the finest and most popular national events across popular and classical music.

This encompasses an unrivalled range including 600 live classical concerts a year on Radio 3, Radio 1’s annual Big Weekend festival (the biggest free ticketed event in Europe), The Proms, more than 300 live sessions each year on Radio 6 Music, and BBC Four being the largest commissioner of music documentaries in the UK.

BBC Music continues to innovate in Digital. BBC Music Playlister - with over 10 million tracks added since launch – has been added to BBC iPlayer, going live today. Music fans can now add tracks directly to BBC Music Playlister from BBC iPlayer (on desktop) when signed in. Whether it’s PJ Harvey from Peaky Blinders or Etta James from Strictly Come Dancing, they will be able to remember and listen to music from their favourite BBC TV shows.

The digital home of BBC Music,, has also been transformed with a newly designed and responsive homepage, updated artists pages and more curated music content when signed in. Music fans will get a more personalised experience with recommendations for programmes, clips, tracks and artists based on their own preferences - showcasing the best music content from across the BBC, giving audiences more of the music they love.

This week Ten Pieces launched in cinemas and on iPlayer amid much fanfare as the BBC Learning team joins forces with over 200 partners and classical musicians from across the country to inspire primary school children with classical music. With more than 300 BBC-funded screenings, approximately 100,000 children will be viewing the film at cinemas this week (w/c 6 October). The film will then be made available as a free DVD for primary schools upon request (whilst stocks last) using ten pieces of music to open up the world of classical music to a generation of children.

And exciting plans are underway for the inaugural BBC Music Awards which will transmit on Thursday 11 December bringing live music back to BBC One in primetime with an array of internationally renowned stars. For the first time ever, BBC One, Radio 1, Radio 2 and The One Show will unite for a spectacular celebration of the best in popular music from the last 12 months.

Hosted by Fearne Cotton and Chris Evans, the BBC Music Awards will take place at Earls Court. The extravaganza will feature captivating live performances and collaborations to review and celebrate the year. Awards on the night will include British Artist of the Year, International Artist of the Year and Song of the Year. Amongst performances from the biggest and most iconic names in music, a special place will be reserved for one of BBC Introducing’s hottest talents. Radio 1, Radio 2 and The One Show will give their audiences exclusive behind the scenes access. Further information will be announced in the coming weeks.

Notes to Editors

The full transmission schedule for God Only Knows is:

8pm: BBC One, Two, Three, Four, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales, BBC Radios 1, 1Xtra, 2, 4, 4Xtra, 5Live, 6 Music, Asian Network, Radio Scotland, Radio Wales, Radio Cymru, Radio Ulster, all Local Radio stations, BBC World Service, BBC iPlayer and iPlayer Radio

8.15pm: BBC Radio 3 – God Only Knows will be played during the interval of Live In Concert in a special interval programme with Tom Service

8.27pm: BBC News Channel, BBC World News

God Only Knows was commissioned by Neil Caldicott, BBC Director of Marketing and Audiences Radio, in conjunction with Karmarama. The creative directors are Sam Walker and Joe de Souza. The director is Francois Rousselet with music produced by Ethan Johns and Ken Nelson. The producer is Joanna Yeldham from Red Bee Media.

BBC Music’s three objectives are:

  • Supporting emerging talent by bringing classical music into schools, offering new training initiatives for young people, and breaking more new artists
  • Digital innovation including further innovation in BBC Music Playlister and curated collections on BBC iPlayer
  • New landmark programming with a renewed commitment to high-profile output, including BBC Music Awards on BBC One alongside more prime-time music on the country’s most popular TV channel

During 2013/14 the BBC broadcast 41,000 hours of music making the BBC the world’s biggest music broadcaster, reaching over 50% of the UK population each week. This includes 2,900 live sessions and 300 concerts from the BBC’s six Performance Groups. The BBC is also Britain’s largest supporter of new music with 28 new classical works commissioned and 15 new music schemes including Chorister of the Year, Young Musician, Young Folk Musician, Young Brass Musician and through BBC Introducing. BBC Music works in partnership with music organisations across the UK from leading record labels to local performance groups as well as the National Skills Academy and The PRS for Music Foundation. / SH / AF2