In Which We Draw Out The Parallels Between The BBC’s Celeb-Filled Advert God Only Knows And Disney Films

Is it us, or is the celebrity-deluged promo basically one long tribute to our childhoods?


by Sophie Wilkinson |
Published on

We all love a good dose of nostalgia, something to look back upon and marvel at for its gently aged chic. So when it came to putting together a big snazzy high-production advert to both boost the BBC’s new dedication to music and raise money for charity Children In Need, they decided to do a throwback with the old Beach Boys song God Only Knows.

Whereas previous charity singles such as Do They Know It’s Christmas? or Perfect Day or Heroes (you know, the X Factor one which featured a whispering, twinkly-eyed, fuzzy-lipped Frankie Cocozza?) would make it look like it was being put together in a recording studio, with a slight nod to fantasy, this one has gone full-on nostalgic.

As well as featuring oldies like Elton John and Stevie Wonder, everyone’s singing God Only Knows to lull people into a sense of twee-yet-euphoric cutesy happiness. And as for the celebrities drafted in to sing for their blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameos, well, they’re basically acting out Disney films.

Presumably, with certain elements of the BBC’s history in tatters, the makers of the video decided not to look at their own output of yesteryear. Don’t believe us?

Emeli Sande – Alice In Wonderland


Emeli’s not the sort to go out getting nailed at Tiger Tiger, so here she is at a kerazy tea party full of way too many teapots and a nod to Salvador Dali’s melty clock in the form of, um, a melty clock. It’s the Mad Hatter’s tea party, get it?

Lorde – Maleficent


You get a few minutes’ recording time with teen goth of wonder Lorde and what do you do? Dress her up like Angelina Jolie in Maleficent, with big beating wings to fend off the haters. We can’t agree with this more, and the fact Tumblr is awash with posts of it shows just how well-appreciated this postmodern reference is.

Florence Welch – The Jungle Book


The Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson appears, dead-eyed – years of drug abuse will do that to you. Although some people might complain that the supposedly secular BBC is doing a video full of heavenly references, it’s as much about drugs as Lou Reed’s Perfect Day (that was another BBC charity advert song, way back when), considering the Beach Boys spent a long time up to their geeky haircuts in LSD.

Oh, but our point is, Florence from Florence And The Machine is in a jungle scene, just like in The Jungle Book. We’d like to know where that suit is from, too.

One Direction doing a crafty behind-the-scenes thing


The 1D boys’ bit has got that whole behind-the-scenes-y thing to it, as they sing into microphones and face an old-school camera in front of a load of balloons. Everyone else is acting out some sort of fantasy, but they’re just being normal. What does it all mean? That in our fantasies, One Direction are just as they are right now? Or is it that if they’re way too busy touring to be cutting their hair (seriously, is Louis’s mullet meant to be a throwback to that original celebrity charity video, Do They Know It’s Christmas?), they’re almost too busy to be in a BBC charity video? Which means their part is the lowest-produced. Extra points for the zoom-in on Harry and Zayn singing close together. After all, they are the fittest members of the band.

Paloma Faith – Frozen/Tangled


OK, so the bit where a girl is on a swing in Frozen is only for a split second, as a painting on a wall – but Paloma swinging on it is definitely a reference to something Disney. If not that bit in Frozen, then the bit in Tangled where Rapunzel (played by Mandy Moore, how’s that for a throwback?) swings on her hair.

Sam Smith – Dumbo


Alone in a room looking sad, Sam could be any put-upon child facing hardship in a Disney film, but in this, he’s meant to be throwing back to Dumbo, as the lilting feather shows.

Pharrell – Pinocchio


OK, this might not be as blatant as the rest, but you take a big look at Pharrell Williams and tell us that he does not look like Jiminy Cricket, just without the socks. Not very hygienic.

Look, we get that a few of these aren’t strictly Disney films, but the resemblance is uncanny. Plus, there are loads of other celebrities doing Disney-ish things, like Kylie singing in a bubble as in Cinderella, or Jamie Cullum and balloons as in Up.

As well as all proceeds from the song going to Children In Need, the general feeling of happiness and misty-eyed nostalgia really makes us feel like Christmas is only just around the corner. That and the crap weather, of course...

Follow Sophie on Twitter @sophwilkinson

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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