After Tuesday’s Eastenders episode, something amazing happened. The television announcer billed what was coming next as a “a truly unique impossible performance” and thus commenced an epic, 3-minute advert for BBC Music – a recording of the 1966 Beach Boys song ‘God Only Knows’ featuring a host of musical superstars.
Shown across all BBC platforms simultaneously (a broadcasting first), it was something of a surprise to the unsuspecting viewer, or listener, as it was on the radio too.
The video opens with Pharrell Williams and Emeli Sandé: two of the biggest-selling artists of the last 3 years are sure to instantly grab the attention of the younger demographic. As the video continues, we see other contemporary artists making an appearance: Lorde, Jake Bugg, Florence Welch, Paloma Faith and Sam Smith. Even One Direction gave up a few seconds of their hectic lifestyles to take part.
It would be an impossible task to get all of that musical talent in the same space to record the track. Despite having the disused Alexandra Palace in London as the stunning backdrop, much of the filming was done using green screen technology with added impressive visual effects. The result is one of the classiest visual spectacles in recent times.
But BBC Music is not just about pop stars: the video also included instrumentalists such as former BBC Young Musician of the Year, Nicola Benedetti, and even bhangra artist, Jaz Dhami. The video ends with the more unfamiliar face of Brian Wilson, the song’s writer.
Stand-out moments include Kylie Minogue floating above the orchestra in a CGI bubble and Paloma Faith riding the clouds on a swing in the sky.
A bold statement
Thoughts soon turned to why such a difficult feat for BBC Music was attempted in the first place. It turns out that a similar video was done by the BBC 17 years ago, instead to Lou Reed’s ‘Perfect Day’.
That video starred the likes of Bono, David Bowie and Elton John, the latter being the only artist to reappear in this 2014 version. Thankfully the BBC foresaw its popularity and made it the Children in Need single as it sold 1.5 million copies. ‘God Only Knows’ will also be this year’s charity single in a bid to top the charts for the first time since JLS’s ‘Love You More’ in 2010.
According to Alexis Petridis in The Guardian, the advert is “a little self-aggrandising” but it does well to reinstate the BBC as a powerhouse corporation, still able to bring together a musical supergroup as it takes a step to revolutionise its musical output with the launch of BBC Music.
A BBC spokesperson calls 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.” The new website evidences its wide-ranging “commitment” to music and we are promised more exciting collaborations in the near future.
What did you think of the advert? Are the BBC showing off or is this a credible effort for BBC Music and Children in Need?