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Monday, May 7, 2012

The Smash Cast - The Music Of Smash

Smash Cast – The Music Of Smash
2012, Columbia Records
The NBC television show Smash has been both praised and derided as Glee for adults.  While this is not entirely unfair, on either side of the coin, what often gets missed is that at the heart of the show is a brilliant Broadway score written by Marc Shaiman and Scott Whitman.  Female principals Katharine McPhee (American Idol) and Megan Hilty (Wicked, 9 to 5: The Musical) bring the sort of power and finesse that Glee has never been able to achieve.  The supporting cast, including Broadway veterans Christian Borle (Thoroughly Modern Millie, Legally Blonde, Spamalot); Brian D’Arcy James (Shrek: The Musical, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Next To Normal); Will Chase and Anne Harada, as well as TV/movie stars Debra Messing (Will & Grace) and Anjelica Huston, is nothing to sneeze at either.  Given the star power and the quality of the musical performances in the show, it was inevitable that a soundtrack would be release eventually.  It’s disappointing; however, that the producers of the album chose to focus on the pop star karaoke numbers from the show rather than on Shaiman/Whitman’s original material.
Don’t get me wrong, the soundtrack includes five original numbers from the increasingly not fictional show Bombshell, but at thirteen tracks for the standard issue and eighteen tracks for the Target exclusive, The Music Of Smash undersells the very heart of the show.  That’s not a knock on the performances on the album, which range from above average to downright brilliant.  The only ‘dog’ (if you will) on the entire the album is the opening track, “Touch Me”.  Written for the show by Bonnie McKee and Ryan Tedder (One Republic), the song is pure pre-programmed electro pop, and sticks out here like a sore thumb.  McPhee’s vocal performance is flawless, but the material is below her, and even her voice can’t lift the song.  Luckily things improve quickly.
The highlights of the album are the songs from Bombshell: “Let Me Be Your Star” (Katharine McPhee & Megan Hilty); “The 20th Century Fox Mambo” (McPhee); “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” (Hilty & Will Chase); “Let’s Be Bad” (Hilty); and “History Is Made At Night” (Hilty & Chase).  These songs support the rumors that Shaiman and Whitman will take the ideas developed in Smash and bring Bombshell to the Broadway stage.  Other highlights from Megan Hilty include the cover of Carrie Underwood’s “Crazy Dreams” and the “Breakaway”.  Katharine McPhee gets the bulk of the pop songs, with “Stand” (with Leslie Odom); Linda Perry’s “Beautiful; and the Bob Hilliard/Mort Garson-penned “Our Day Will Come”. 
McPhee and Hilty don’t get to steal the show entirely, however.  Nick Jonas provides a surprisingly deft cover of “Haven’t Me You Yet”, and the First Lady of Broadway, Bernadette Peters, offers up a brilliant “Everything’s Coming Up Roses”.  The downside is that for a show about the making of a Broadway musical, there’s too much focus on radio-friendly pop music here.  That is the price, perhaps, for providing such a unique look at bringing a show to the Great White Way.  Television is not just about the story of course, but the marketing opportunities that come with it.  Broadway fans will feel that more could have been done with this release, while pop music fans will love the Top-40 focus.
On the whole, The Music Of Smash is very an appealing collection of songs sung by some of the best voices in the pop and Broadway worlds.  Not including a track from Christian Borle is something of a crime, but in the end, the positives far outweigh the negatives.
Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

Learn more about Smash at

Target Deluxe (5 bonus tracks)        iTunes.

     Amazon CD          Amazom MP3     

Please note that the prices listed above are as of the posting date, and may have changed. Wildy's World is not responsible for price changes instituted by

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