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Intersection of Life and Faith

Not Quite a Smash

  • Susan Ellingburg Contributing Writer
  • 2012 7 May
Not Quite a <i>Smash</i>

Cast of NBC's "Smash" - Katharine McPhee, Megan Hilty, Will Chase, Nick Jonas, Leslie Odom

Title: The Music of Smash

Label: Columbia Records

For the uninitiated: Smash is a television show dubbed "'Glee' for grown-ups" about the making of a Broadway musical about Marilyn Monroe. For a ‘musical within a musical' this "soundtrack" feels more like karaoke night with exceptionally talented friends than a comprehensive collection of the show's music. Of the mere 13 songs on the standard CD (just 40 minutes of music) only five are original numbers written for the show. (Target offers a "deluxe edition" with five extra songs.)

That doesn't mean the pop covers are all bad. Christina Aguilera's "Beautiful," sung by Katharine McPhee, was a show-stopper that retains its power. Another McPhee number, "Touch Me" is a hard-driving dance number; conservative listeners may balk at the bold invitation in the lyrics "I want to feel you on my body; put your hands on me." In contrast to some of the sultrier songs, Donnie McClurkin's "Stand" (a duet with McPhee and Leslie Odom) would be perfectly appropriate in many church services.

Megan Hilty (McPhee's TV rival for the role of Marilyn) struts her Broadway stuff in affirmation ballads "Who You Are" and "Crazy Dreams" while "Shake It Out" and "Brighter Than the Sun" showcase McPhee's more pop-friendly style. ("Brighter Than the Sun" really isn't, though, it feels oddly distracted.) Nick Jonas's "Haven't Met You Yet" is pleasant enough but lacks the charm of the original Michael Buble version.

On the original side, "The 20th Century Fox Mambo" (McPhee) and "Let's Be Bad" (Hilty) both feel like genuine Broadway hits; you'll have visions of chorus lines dancing in your head. The unabashedly romantic "Mr. & Mrs. Smith" is a sweetheart of a song sung by Hilty and Will Chase as Marilyn and Joe DiMaggio. They team up again for "History is Made at Night," a steamy duet with a ‘fifties vibe. But the song you'll belt out in the shower is "Let Me Be Your Star" a standout duet between McPhee and Hilty that's bound to become a power ballad standard.  

The Music of Smash offers a little something for everyone—which probably means no one will be completely happy. Fans might be better advised to cherry pick their favorites as song-by-song downloads.  

*This Review First Published 5/7/2012