Top 10 Best Songs from Smash
VOICE OVER: Emily Brayton
WRITTEN BY: Nick Spake
Before that curtain drops, let's have one last encore with these Smash original songs. We're taking a look at the catchiest showstoppers from this short-lived musical drama. We're only looking at songs that made their debut on the show as opposed to renditions of existing songs. MsMojo ranks the most show-stopping Smash original songs. What's your favorite Smash original song? Let us know in the comments!
Before that curtain drops, let’s have one last encore. Welcome to MsMojo and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 “Smash” Original Songs.
For this list, we’re taking a look at the catchiest showstoppers from this short-lived musical drama. We’re only looking at songs that made their debut on the show as opposed to renditions of existing songs.
#10: “They Just Keep Moving the Line”
Within the context of the show, the songs for “Bombshell” were written by Tom Levitt and Julia Houston. In reality, however, the masterminds behind this musical were Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman. Their music not only captures the spirit of Marilyn Monroe, but also the numerous layers this screen legend had as both a performer and as a person. This fiery song embodies Monroe’s frustration as she clashed with Laurence Olivier on the set of “The Prince and the Showgirl.” As far as Monroe had come at this point in her career, many still saw her as nothing more than a sex symbol, including Olivier. The song also serves as a fitting parallel to the clash between central characters Ivy and Karen and the struggles each faces to be taken seriously.
#9: “Caught in the Storm”
Before they were dominating the awards circuit with “Dear Evan Hansen” and “La La Land,” songwriting duo Benj Pasek and Justin Paul gave us a taste of their talents on “Smash.” Where the “Bombshell” songs have an old-fashioned feel, the musical “Hit List” has a much more contemporary sound, as demonstrated in this tune. At its core, “Caught In the Storm” is about the passion that drives us to take chances. Even if there’s a possibility you’ll get struck by lightning in the process, you’re willing to take that risk regardless. Whatever ultimately happens, nobody can take away the electrifying rush you felt along the way. It’s a message that any artist can identify with on the road to making it big on Broadway.
#8: “I Never Met a Wolf Who Didn’t Love to Howl”
This alluring number is akin to “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” from “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.” It’s also reminiscent of the cartoon “Red Hot Riding Hood.” At the height of her popularity, Monroe was the most desirable woman on the planet. So, you can imagine how thrilled the troops were when she came to give a performance. Monroe’s ability to captivate a crowd is on full display in “I Never Met a Wolf Who Didn’t Love to Howl.” While there are two versions of the song, both showcase Monroe’s magnetism and sex appeal. Monroe could turn a military base into party central, proving that nobody was immune to her elevating charms.
#7: “I Heard Your Voice in a Dream”
One of the driving forces throughout season two is Karen Cartwright’s budding relationship with Jimmy Collins, the brooding songwriter behind “Hit List.” The couple shares a bittersweet duet in “Rewrite This Story,” but Jimmy’s growing feelings for Karen are best exemplified in “I Heard Your Voice In A Dream.” As was the case with many songs on the show, the storyline with the characters - conflicts and all - usually followed a similar vein to those of the musical being worked on. Here, Jimmy’s Jesse is trying to reach out to Karen’s Amanda, who’d going full speed ahead towards her dreams, no matter the cost. Earning Andrew McMahon an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Music and Lyrics, this track features everything we love: Jeremy Jordan vocals, an infectious chorus, and impressive choreography.
#6: “History Is Made at Night”
Although Monroe’s marriage to DiMaggio didn’t have a happily ever after, there was a period when their courtship seemed like a modern fairytale. (xref) In the heartfelt “Mr. & Mrs. Smith,” these two household names express their mutual desire to be an everyday couple free of media scrutiny. Before they tied the knot, though, history was made the night when Joe and Marilyn went on their first date. The stars all align in this seductive number, which features the smooth swings of a 1950s doo-wop group. As a matter of fact, the song would feel right at home in a musical like “Grease.” Just as Monroe and DiMaggio are over the moon for each other, “History Is Made at Night” simply sweeps the audience off their feet.
#5: “Let’s Be Bad”
Monroe was adored by the public, but her drug problems could make her difficult to work with and even harder to live with. Her animosity towards Hollywood and husband Arthur Miller provide the basis for this jazzy number. Sick of being typecast as a dumb blonde, Monroe shows off her bad side, which ranges from playfully naughty to deeply troubling. “Let’s Be Bad” is a celebration of everything that made Monroe such an unapologetically risqué performer. At the same time, it unearths Monroe’s struggle to stay on her feet as she keeps popping pills. Although she never fails to mesmerize the audience with her curves and charisma, we can also see her life slowly unraveling. She’s a bombshell about to go off.
#4: “The 20th Century Fox Mambo”
Before becoming Marilyn Monroe, she was a young model named Norma Jeane Mortenson. This future superstar took the first steps towards her big break when 20th Century Fox offered her a screen test. In “Bombshell,” she’s asked to do a foxtrot, but nobody gets discovered in Hollywood by playing by the rules. So instead, the aspiring actress bursts out into a lively mambo. As this number gets revved up, Norma Jeane fades away and the fiery seeds that’ll blossom into Marilyn are planted. “20th Century Fox Mambo” is a zesty combination of fast-paced lyrics, heart-racing music, and toe-tapping choreography. This is a song that sets your feet ablaze, forcing anyone who listens to it to get up and dance.
#3: “Don’t Forget Me”
Monroe’s story is one that ends in tragedy, but “Bombshell” manages to take that heartache and turn it into something uplifting. Serving as the finale of the “Bombshell” musical, Marilyn delivers a rousing swan song about the hardships she faced in life and how she rose above them. Although she paid the ultimate price for fame in the end, Marilyn takes solace in knowing that her legacy will live on. Even in death, she’ll continue to inspire people. Although Katharine McPhee closes out the first season with “Don’t Forget Me,” Megan Hilty is given her shot at the song in season two. So, whether you were for Team Karen or Team Ivy, this is one number you won’t be forgetting anytime soon.
#2: “Broadway, Here I Come!”
While season one revolves around “Bombshell,” season two injects more variety with the introduction of “Hit List.” Both Karen and the audience are immediately hooked from the second they hear Jimmy performing this stirring number. What makes Joe Iconis’ music and lyrics so absorbing is that they can be interpreted in a couple of ways. When we first hear Jimmy belt the song out on piano, it carries a sense of unstoppable optimism that encourages us to take a leap of faith. At the beginning of “Hit List,” however, “Broadway, Here I Come” is given a downbeat, a cappella reprise. Suddenly, the song takes on a new meaning, hinting at themes of suicide and murder. It goes to show that sometimes there are two sides to a solo.
Before we get to our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
“Don’t Say Yes Until I Finish Talking”
“Second Hand White Baby Grand”
“On Lexington & 52nd Street”
“Reach For Me”
#1: “Let Me Be Your Star”
Every musical has a defining song and for “Smash” that’s without a doubt “Let Me Be Your Star.” Like “Don’t Rain on My Parade” from “Funny Girl” or “Defying Gravity” from “Wicked,” it’s a song that hits the ground running and leaves the audience pumped with energy. What’s more, the song moves the story forward in more ways than one. In “Bombshell,” it conveys Marilyn Monroe’s thirst for superstardom and the determination that’ll help her climb the Hollywood ladder. Behind the Broadway curtain, though, the song is about two up-and-coming actresses competing for the role of a lifetime. This sets that stage for the rivalry that’ll inevitably spark between Karen and Ivy. Receiving Emmy and Grammy nominations, “Let Me Be Your Star” is musical ecstasy.