My Fair Lady. Peter Gunn. The Sound of Music. Camelot. West Side Story. Hello, Dolly! Mary Poppins. Woodstock. Jesus Christ Superstar. Saturday Night Fever. Titanic. High School Musical. Throughout all the years of my blog, soundtrack albums, whether they be from Broadway shows or cinematic releases have been a constant. (I didn’t include several other films that were either concert performances or albums that eventually inspired a film, like “Tommy” or “The Wall”). Today we have what I think will be the last soundtrack, with the #1 selling album from 2018, “The Greatest Showman”. Based on the life of P.T. Barnum, this movie starred Hugh Jackman in the lead role, with Zac Efron, Michelle Williams, Ziv Zaifman, Keala Settle, Loren Allred and Zendaya, among others, appearing in the cast and on the album. Special props to Zac Efron, I must give the guy credit for completing the trilogy along with “Hairspray” and “High School Musical”.
As far as albums go, this soundtrack is standard fare. The songs, particularly the opener, “The Greatest Show”, and the last track, “From Now On”, are dramatic, bombastic shows meant to capture the energy of the cast and inspire the audience. They are high energy tunes that fulfill that mission, and even though I’m not prone to frequently replay songs from this record, clearly it caught the eyes and ears of America and beyond, given its huge success.
I think my favorite song may be “A Million Dreams”, sung primarily by childhood actor Ziv Zaifman. It is genuine, sincere, and sweet, a quality not easy to find in the jaded world we live in today. The two singles released are “This Is Me”, performed by Keala Settle, and “Rewrite the Stars”, performed by Efron and Zendaya. Both are big songs performed by big voices, and absolutely fit the bill as emotional drivers in the show.
Like all the soundtracks that came before “The Greatest Showman”, they represent a snapshot of the world we lived in during a certain time, and I appreciate the intent and purpose of musical film and theater. Blending our desire to believe in the unbelievable with a love of song, dance, and story, I have nothing but good words for this album and I love that it did so well during a time in our history when the arts and performance aren’t always supported by those we look to for leadership. The Greatest Show… indeed.