Smash is one of my favourite TV shows of all time and I rarely go a day without listening to at least one song from Bombshell, the fictitious Marilyn Monroe musical featured on the show. If you’re not aware of Smash, the only way I can describe it is a ‘drama filled musical experience’ (a phrase I’ve just made up and definitely plan to use again, and incidentally a good description of my life). It’s set in New York and follows the lives of Ivy Lynn (Megan Hilty) and Karen Cartwright (Katherine McPhee) as they compete for the same role, and the various twists and turns involved in making a Broadway musical. Unfortunately it only ran for two seasons (I don’t think everyone had the same love affair with it as I did), but it has provided us with two incredible (tragically fake) musical soundtracks: Bombshell and Hit List. Today I’m going to focus on Bombshell, but rest assured that I will be going through my favourite Hit List songs on another occasion!
I instantly fell in love with Smash from the first episode, and I think this was largely down to Let Me Be Your Star. A really clever feature of Smash was that the Bombshell songs describe not only the action in the musical, but the lives of the characters in the show (much harder to explain when you write it down compared to when you watch it!). This comes right at the end of the first episode of the TV show and right at the beginning of Bombshell, following Ivy and Karen’s callback for the role of Marilyn and also being the song in Bombshell where Marilyn sings about becoming a star (hence, Let Me Be Your Star!). Give it a watch:
After watching that, I recommend you also watch the Jeremy Jordan and Jonathan Groff version from the 2013 Miscast Gala as not only is it hilarious but it has Jeremy Jordan and Jonathan Groff in it. Do you need another reason?
Possibly my favourite song from the soundtrack is They Just Keep Moving The Line. It’s sung by Megan Hilty in season 2 and it completely shows off her incredible vocal talent (not that we didn’t know that anyway, but this song is another level of brilliance). It also features some great lyrics, my favourites include I aced the big audition but it’s raining on cloud nine, they cheered at my persistence but prayed for my decline and a toast to resurrection but they just keep moving the line, all of which you can often hear me belting very loudly (and very badly) when no one is in the house. Here it is for all those interested to see what song I murder on a regular basis:
Finally, a notable mention must go Don’t Forget Me. It’s the final song of season one and I can’t link the version from the show due to a spoiler (I wouldn’t dare ruin it for you!) so here is Katherine McPhee singing it live. It’s been taken down a few keys which is a shame, the version in the show is far more powerful and dramatic but I suppose that will be a special treat when you finish the first season! It’s a brilliant song with equally excellent lyrics – I didn’t mention this earlier but the songs from Bombshell are all written by Marc Shaiman and Scott Whitman who also composed Hairspray (good) and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (we don’t talk about that). Enjoy!
As is inevitable with any soundtrack, there are always going to be some weaker songs (obviously all in my own opinion!) and in Smash this is in the form of At Your Feet, a song that was sort of glossed over in season 2 and although it features Bernadette Peters (somewhat of a Broadway legend), I really don’t think it’s as brilliant as a lot of the other songs on the soundtrack and find myself skipping it quite often. Listen and see what you think!
Another song I wasn’t so fond of was Mr and Mrs Smith. I like the sentiment of it, it’s Marilyn and Joe DiMaggio singing about their hopes for a simpler life, but I honestly just find it quite boring especially compared to something like They Just Keep Moving The Line. Despite having said all that, I’ve just found it on YouTube and it turns out I actually know all the words. Maybe I don’t hate it that much!
I was also not a big fan of The Right Regrets, a song from the second season which was sung in the show by the composers of Bombshell, Julia (Debra Messing) and Tom (Christian Borle). Again, I just found this a bit boring and really haven’t listened to it at all. It wasn’t really explained that well in the context of the TV series and it kind of appeared on the soundtrack without really being bigged up much. I don’t love the lyrics or the piano line and generally just don’t have any desire to listen to this one. That was quite harsh! I’m sorry!
So there it is, my round up of the best and worst of Bombshell. It was so hard to pick three songs in each category as the whole thing is pretty flawless, but I managed to force myself for the good of the blog. I hope you appreciate my sacrifice and go and listen to the rest of the songs to accustom yourself with further brilliance. Also, if you live in New York, please do me a favour and go and see the one night only showing of Bombshell. And film it for me. Thanks!