The Greatest Showman is a whirlwind of excitement, music, and colour all rolled into one two-and-a-half hour experience. Since having seen it a couple of weeks ago I’ve been pretty much constantly listening to the soundtrack, replacing my usual combination of my one enormous playlist and the other musicals’ soundtracks I listen to. And after so much time of hearing Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron, Zendaya and many more belting out hit after hit, I got thinking about which songs were my favourites. This, obviously, translated into a blog post in traditional list form! So sit back and enjoy as I run through every song in the film and get excited about how good they are.
Note: This list will not include the two ‘reprisals’ included on the soundtrack, but will include a mention of them in the posts for the main songs.
9. Never Enough
Both Never Enough and its reprisal are the performances given by Swedish opera superstar Jenny Lind (played by Rebecca Ferguson), after P.T. Barnum decides to aim higher than his circus and embark on a continental tour, with Lind as the star. Ferguson does not actually sing in the film, however, with the vocals for this song instead provided by American singer Loren Allred, best known for appearing on the US version of The Voice. Allred puts in a fine performance, never appearing strained or challenged by the intense ballad, and the song is enjoyable enough on its own. However, it struggles to stand out on a soundtrack of far more memorable numbers, so is perhaps a victim of the quality of the music as a whole.
Tightrope is an interesting song in a moment of isolation and frustration for Charity Barnum (Michelle Williams). As her husband embarks on his glamorous world tour, she is left behind to look after their young children, somewhat abandoned despite the promises made to her by P.T. when they first married. Williams performs this herself and is thoroughly impressive, and the song itself is enjoyable while also clearly portraying Charity’s problems. It does suffer from the same problems as Never Enough, as it’s not quite as memorable as the rest of the soundtrack, and is also a little upbeat for the message it’s conveying. Nevertheless, it’s still a fine song coming at one of the more dramatic points in the film.
7. A Million Dreams
Hugh Jackman appears on this list for the first time in A Million Dreams, a fantastic account of P.T. and Charity’s life together. Starting from their childhood, the song weaves the story of how they fell in love, wrote to each other despite being forbidden from seeing one another, and eventually reunited, forming their own happy life despite their lack of money. The song tells the tale really well, linking together the various parts of both characters’ lives while ramping up the excitement when the two are able to finally be together. The reprise is also used well, with their children singing the song as P.T. attempts to plan for a life in which he has just been fired. A very solid song which arguably deserves to be higher up, but is forced into this spot by the sheer quality of the rest of the soundtrack.
6. This Is Me
The Oscar-nominated track This Is Me is prime awards material, a positive and upbeat message from the circus performers who feel unfairly treated by Barnum after his world tour. It shows how far the troupe have come, having been shunned by society before they became performers but now able to own their personas, heading out into the streets to confront those protesting against their ability to live their lives. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable song, led by the superb Keala Settle who plays Lettie Lutz, the bearded lady, who hits the high notes as easily as everyone else breathes air. I was a little surprised that this got the nod for the Oscar, especially considering that the soundtrack as a whole was not nominated, but it does have the right feel to it, and I do hope it wins the Oscar.
5. Come Alive
Come Alive is another feel-good anthem, performed as Barnum searches for acts for his circus. It’s relatively similar to This Is Me in that it is about elevating the performers, who have struggled to be accepted in society, to levels they have never before experienced. The difference here is that it is Barnum who is telling the performers that they are able to do this, rather than having the actors realise it themselves. While This Is Me is probably a more important song to the film, and sends a better message to the audience, there’s something about the high tempo verses of Come Alive which elevates it just a little higher.
4. Rewrite The Stars
Rewrite The Stars is the best love song in the film, easing past Tightrope to this rank. It deals with the budding romance between Barnum’s upper-class junior partner Phillip (Zac Efron) and the high-flying acrobat Anne (Zendaya), as the two fully admit their feelings for one another while flying around the tent with the greatest of ease. But while Phillip is ready to buck social convention and be together publicly, Anne is hesitant and rejects his advances. While I’m not a massive fan of the couple’s storyline in the film (as with many romances that feel a bit tacked-on), the performances from the two are superb, with Zendaya in particular potentially having the best singing voice of the cast. Rewrite The Stars is a powerful, dramatic performance, with terrific visuals to boot.
3. The Greatest Show
The titular song on the soundtrack is a performance full of wonder and excitement, and does an excellent job of immediately absorbing you in the circus atmosphere. It’s used at the very start and very end of the film, and while on the soundtrack both performances are combined into one they both play very different roles. The opening to the film is superb, with Barnum being immediately presented with a quiet, yet passionate, introduction to both his character and the film. “Ladies and Gents, this is the moment you’ve waited for” is almost whispered, yet the song quickly crescendos into triumph. The first performance, however, ends with Barnum standing alone, before we go into his childhood story. The finale takes this moment and amplifies it, with Barnum surrounded by his adoring fans and troupe, plus Phillip taking his place as ringmaster. The song fully lives up to the idea of ‘The Greatest Showman’ and is a damn fine song in its own right.
2. From Now On
Another massive moment in a film filled with them, From Now On shows us the epiphany Barnum has when his building is burned to the ground and he appears to have lost it all. Yet his troupe, who he had seemingly abandoned to go on tour, find him in a bar, pick him up out of the dirt, and restore him to his former glory. The pacing of the song works perfectly, starting slow and soft, before a clear turning point at which Barnum realises his follies and prepares to come back from the brink. Jackman puts in potentially his best performance of the film in this song, belting out a mixture of drama and triumph. It’s a fantastic feel-good moment and a song you’ll have stuck in your head for days.
Plus, if you have time, I’d recommend watching this video of Jackman performing From Now On (with hero of Jamie’sNotepad Jeremy Jordan) just after having surgery, putting in so much effort that he aggravates his stitches!
1. The Other Side
A duet! In a musical! Hugh Jackman and Zac Efron! The Other Side is a thoroughly enjoyable song where Barnum tries to convince Phillip to join him as a partner in his business, buying him drinks and making his argument through a fun, witty back-and-forth where the working-class and upper-class poke fun at one another constantly, Barnum claiming that Phillip is stuck in a cage of his own design, while Phillip claims the circus is beneath him and he doesn’t need it. Of course Barnum wins through, and the two enter musical negotiations (which is how all negotiations should go in my opinion), where Barnum appears to get a slight advantage despite his reticence to give up even ten percent. The whole thing is just a joy, the playful atmosphere wonderfully crafted along with a superb supporting performance from the bartender, flips and all. It’s definitely my favourite song on the soundtrack and you can probably find me trying to duet it on my own most of the time.
So that’s my opinion of how the soundtrack to The Greatest Showman stacks up. I loved the film and its songs, and the two are combined so well to produce a truly enjoyable experience. Even though it’s not particularly critically acclaimed I would still highly recommend you see it and listen to the soundtrack, I can guarantee you’ll get at least some enjoyment out of it.