The BBC assembled a “We Are the World”–style cast of globally famous musicians to sing the Beach Boys‘ “God Only Knows” with its 80-piece BBC Concert Orchestra for a spot promoting the network’s newly launched BBC Music venture. The network has dubbed the ensemble, which sings in a classically fantastical array of settings from a jungle-scape on a stage to a hot air balloon, the “Impossible Orchestra.” Pharrell Williams, Elton John, Lorde, Chris Martin, Brian Wilson, Florence Welch, Stevie Wonder, Brian May, One Direction, Chrissie Hynde, Baaba Maal, Dave Grohl and Sam Smith are among the dozens of performers who comprise the ensemble.
“All of the artists did such a beautiful job, I can’t thank them enough,” Brian Wilson told The Guardian. “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.”
“Once you start going into a song like we have been today, you come up on a new respect,” Brian May said of the experience in a behind-the-scenes video, streaming here. “It’s beautifully constructed, and quite enigmatic, really.”
The BBC has created a charity single of the song to raise money for its BBC Children in Need campaign. A physical copy of the CD is available for purchase in the U.K. and on Amazon, and it’s also available for download and streaming.
The BBC previously made a similar video in 1997, remaking Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day.” That campaign featured Reed, Bono, David Bowie, Burning Spear, Tom Jones and more. Elton John is the only performer to have appeared in both videos.