Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward, who record together as She & Him, recorded a wistful, quivering cover of the Beach Boys‘ “God Only Knows” for a recent Christmas episode of the actress’s TV series The New Girl that is now streaming online (via Stereogum).
Throughout the tune, Deschanel tackles all of the doo-wop-inspired vocal harmonies herself, while Ward provides a dreamy guitar part. Although the duo recently put out an album of covers, Classics, which span songs written between the Thirties and Seventies, “God Only Knows” does not appear on the LP and is available only as a single.
She & Him’s cover is the second major cover of the song to come out this year. In October, the BBC launched its BBC Music venture with a star-studded video of musicians and celebrities – including Brian Wilson, who co-wrote the song with Tony Asher for the Beach Boys’ 1966 LP Pet Sounds – singing lines form the song. Other participants included Elton John, Stevie Wonder, Dave Grohl, Lorde, One Direction, Coldplay’s Chris Martin, Sam Smith and Queen’s Brian May.
“All of the artists did such a beautiful job, I can’t thank them enough,” Brian Wilson said to The Guardian in reference to the BBC’s recording. “I’m just honored 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.”
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She & Him’s new album, Classics, features Deschanel and Ward’s recordings of 13 covers, including Dusty Springfield’s “Stay Awhile” and standards like “Time After Time” and “Teach Me Tonight” (both recorded at one point by Frank Sinatra) and “Would You Like to Take a Walk” (Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong). The pair put together a whimsical “Guide to Standards” video, which includes snippets of songs on the album.