Next to riveting dance numbers, the best thing about The Greatest Showman is without question its stunning soundtrack. With nine original songs written by Oscar and Tony winners, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (of La La Land and Dear Evan Hansen fame), the soundtrack album to the Hugh Jackman-starring musical drama film is now expected to soar to the top of the Billboard 200 Albums Chart by next week, having moved over 80,000 equivalent album units in the week ending January 4 according to Billboard. Meanwhile, its gripping anthem “This Is Me” is the front-runner to win Best Original Song at this Sunday’s Golden Globes.
The Greatest Showman soundtrack, which features the vocal talents of the film’s stars such as Jackman, Michelle Williams, Zac Efron, Zendaya, and Keala Settle, made its debut at No. 71 on the Billboard 200 in early December, before catapulting up to No. 5 following the film’s theatrical release in the U.S. on December 20. If, or rather, when it hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200 next week, it will be the first chart-topping soundtrack since Fifty Shades Darker topped the album charts for a week last March.
For anyone who has seen the film, which is inspired by the life and times of American 19th-century circus businessman P. T. Barnum (played by Jackman), it will come as no surprise as to how well the contemporary pop soundtrack is doing on the Billboard charts.
Practically every song in The Greatest Showman is memorable – from rousing show tunes the likes of ‘The Greatest Show ” and “Come Alive” (sang by the ensemble cast), to duets such as “Rewrite the Stars” (Efron and Zendaya) and “The Other Side” (Jackman and Efron), to the emotive power ballad, “Never Enough” (The Voice‘s Loren Allred).
“This Is Me” – An Anthem That Resonates
Stealing much of the limelight though – and rightly so – is “This Is Me,” the emotionally-charged anthem by Broadway singer-actress Settle, who also plays the Bearded Lady in The Greatest Showman. The song has resonated with many who have embraced it as, in the words of Variety, “an anthem for the marginalized, disenfranchised, the bullied and the outcast.” Check out the inspiring lyrics:
“When the sharpest words wanna cut me down,
I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out.
I’m brave, I’m bruised,
I am who I’m meant to be, this is me.
The heartfelt song comes halfway through the film when Barnum, whilst entertaining high society members at a private party, refuses to let his circus performers ( or “oddities”) to be part of the proceedings, literally slamming the door on their faces. Speaking to Variety, songwriter Justin Paul explains the rationale behind the song.
“It’s the moment where they realize, ‘We are who we are, and we’re going to own our own identity. They march through the streets, through all the protesters, go back to their circus home and perform.”
Fans Taking “This Is Me” To Heart
As it is, many fans have taken the powerful anthem to heart, many sharing their thoughts on Twitter with the hashtag #thisisme. One Waylon Jordan felt that the song represents “power, spirit, and strength.”
Can a song change your life? Damn right it can. @kealasettle and #ThisIsMe on repeat. Power, spirit, strength, anthem. This song is all of those things and magnified by Keala’s own spirit, strength, and power.
— Waylon Jordan (@Waylonvox1) December 26, 2017
For teacher Erica Lorenzon, the song has a positive message which she hopes to discuss with her students.
@kealasettle "This is Me" has such an amazing message that I can't wait to share with my students. Thank you for adding so much power and passion to that message with your beautiful voice! #TheGreatestShowman #ThisIsMe
— Erica Lorenzon (@ms_lorenzon) December 26, 2017
Then there’s Desiree Smith who explained why she identified with the film’s circus oddities. She tweeted that, “Most of my life, I felt like an oddity. People made me feel bad for trying to be myself. Not anymore,” before moving on to thank The Greatest Showman, its composers, and especially vocalist Settle for giving her “the courage to live without fear of judgment.”
Most of my life I felt like an oddity. People made me feel bad for trying to be myself. Not anymore. Big thanks to The @GreatestShowman, @benjpasek and @heyitsjustin, and especially @kealasettle for giving me the courage to live without fear of judgment. #ThisIsMe #BaldAndBoujee pic.twitter.com/fUSg1ZyxOw
— Desirée Smith (@delirious_des) January 5, 2018
Although the biggest criticism against The Greatest Showman – that its portrayal of P.T. Barnum and opera singer Jenny Lind is not factual – is rather valid, one cannot deny that the musical drama is still one of the best cinematic musicals produced in recent times.
On Sunday’s 75th Annual Golden Globes Awards, The Greatest Showman has three nominations: Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy (Jackman), and Best Original Song – Motion Picture (“This is Me”).
Up against strong comedy contenders the likes of The Disaster Artist and Get Out (yes, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association deemed the hit horror film as “comedy,” go figure), observers believed that The Greatest Showman’s best chance of walking away with a Golden Globe is for Best Original Song. Albeit its strongest competitor here is the haunting “Remember Me” from Disney/Pixar’s Coco.
If “This Is Me” does win – it is also touted to win in the same category at the 2018 Critics’ Choice Awards four days later – coupled with the soundtrack album topping the Billboard 200 Albums Chart, it will indeed be a great week ahead for The Greatest Showman.
[Jan 8 Update: As expected, The Greatest Showman soundtrack hits No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart for the week ending January 4, while “This Is Me” scooped the Golden Globe for Best Original Song in a motion picture. Congrats!]