Sometimes I think about changing this blog from music focused to movie but then I remember, where would movies be without their soundtracks? How would moments be brought to life if not for hair raising scores and poetic lyrics? Musicals portray life, living and history in an over the top, romanticised beauty that we wish could be our own lives. The Greatest Showman is no exception to this, filled with the cheesy clichés we love and forgive in theatre helped along by a modern-day soundtrack in a colourful Victorian world. Telling the tale of P.T Barnum and his group of ‘oddities’, The Greatest Showman and its soundtrack are an uplifting experience everyone needs to rush to witness in the cinema whilst they can.
If you have yet to see it, watch the trailer for the movie here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jr9QtXwC9vc
A brief warning: this blog post will contain spoilers for the movie so proceed with caution. The film begins in medias res, directly launching you into the action with ‘The Greatest Show’. Possibly because I entered the cinema knowing next to nothing about the film, but I was instantly blown away by the hard-hitting track that evoked a sound similar to Imagine Dragons. The rising chorus of voices sweep through the song before it levels out into a slow building beat that climbs higher and higher, with your heartbeat echoing the sound. The fast pace of the song breaks through into a chorus of all the characters voices and sets the dazzling mood for the whole movie. Unfortunately, we only receive a snippet of ‘The Greatest Show’ in the very beginning, leaving a want for more that is more than fulfilled by the grand finale.
Listen to ‘The Greatest Show’ here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NyVYXRD1Ans
Hugh Jackman’s vocals reprise his role as Jean Valjean in Les Miserable, bringing the same power and passion to his role in The Greatest Showman as P.T Barnum. Themes of dreaming big are a constant throughout the movie, the inspiring message of achieving all you can fully realised by the time the credits are rolling. However, the idea of dreaming only being in innocence is also captured by the songs ‘A Million Dreams’ and ‘This is Me’, two tracks that fight against the world no matter what it throws at you. ‘A Million Dreams’ is a sweet dream in itself, the song a combination of the vocals of the child actors portraying a young P.T and Charity Barnum and Jackman and Michelle Williams as the characters in their adulthood.
Listen to ‘A Million Dreams’ here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pSQk-4fddDI
‘This is Me’ is possibly the highlight of the entire movie, Keala Settle (who portrays Lettie Luz, ‘The Bearded Lady’) giving an uplifting, powerful performance that only builds in power as the song continues. The song takes place in the movie after Barnum has rejected the people he brought together in the first place, the characters rebelling against those who dare to judge them and treat them as less. ‘This is Me’ encourages everyone in the theatre to sing along and cry out for every time they were ever pushed to the side and ostracised. Settle’s voice acts as the voice for the whole movie, giving both quiet moments of reflection that are quickly drowned out by a collective chorus of acceptance.
Listen to ‘This is Me’ here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wEJd2RyGm8Q
However, much like any musical that has testing and trying moments, there is an element of comedy sprinkled into the movie in the form of ‘The Other Side.’ A song that is the combination of trying to open someone’s eyes to another world whilst also trying to gain position in business. The duet is performed by Jackman and Zac Efron (who is portraying the playwright, Phillip Carlyle) and is a toe tapping, rhythm infused battle for the upper hand. With neither man willing to back down, ‘The Other Side’ is a fun, overlapping, relationship building of like minded characters eventually coming together in a harmony of voices and ideas.
Listen to the ‘The Other Side’ here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wk008ADh4iY
These are only a few of the songs that stood out for me, but I encourage you to explore the soundtrack on your own to discover which track speaks to you the most. The only critiques I have of the movie as a whole are the pacing seemed a little quick and I wanted a little more with the other characters. Even with the song ‘This is Me’, I still wish the movie had touched more on the lives and relationships of the other characters within the circus. With that being said, the soundtrack cannot be faulted and although the movie itself has received mixed reviews, the soundtrack is something we can all seem to agree on.
Full soundtrack available for listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NyVYXRD1Ans&list=PLi0vNpDrBJPdGH3LoC85PgixsOq5vDUV3
Review by Skye W. Winwood