Smash’s ostensibly revamped second season debuts tonight, with a new showrunner, a slightly rejiggered cast, and a stronger focus on the characters’ professional rather than personal lives. We’ll see! One thing Smash shouldn’t tinker with, though, is its original songs. For the most part, they’re fantastic — solid, gutsy ballads; big showstopper ensemble numbers; a few cutesy love songs. Ah, show tunes. Here’s every original song from season one, ranked by quality.
(For some insane reason, NBC does not post full videos of the musical numbers. Call your congressperson to complain.)
1. “The Higher You Get, the Farther the Fall”
Smash’s best number isn’t even from Bombshell, the Marilyn Monroe musical the series is sort of about. Instead, it’s from Heaven on Earth, Tom and Julia’s previous collaboration. It doesn’t hurt that Norbet Leo Butz sells the hell of the song, which happens to be catchy, sassy, and maybe a tiny bit reminiscent of “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat.”
2. “Let Me Be Your Star”
It’s the series’ iconic song, and the number alone made Smash’s pilot seem ridiculously promising.
3. “History Is Made at Night”
The doo-wop number is deceptively complex lyrically — listen for those internal rhymes — and is both romantic and sad. Just like Marilyn Monroe herself.
4. “The National Pastime”
It’s about baseball; it’s about sex — it’s great.
5. “Let’s Be Bad”
The full production version, which includes Ivy-as-Marilyn slurring her words and collapsing, is one of the few moments where Bombshell (and Smash) makes it clear that a Monroe musical would be at all interesting or unique. It’s about contrast! Also layers: It’s a TV show about a musical, in which the characters pretend to make a movie.
6. “Don’t Say Yes Until I Finish Talking”
Men in towels, singing to each other. I can’t believe some people don’t like musicals.
7. “20th Century Fox Mambo”
Might a mambo number feel shoe-horned into Bombshell were it an actual show? Yeah, probably. But as part of a TV show, it’s just fun.
8. “Mr. and Mrs. Smith”
It’s a really straightforward duet, but it’s so darn heartfelt and pretty.
9. “Second Hand White Baby Grand”
Ninth-grade girls are using this song to audition for things, right? They should be.
10. “I Never Met a Wolf Who Didn’t Love to Howl”
This is when some of the Marilyn mythology starts to wear thin. She used sex appeal, did you know that? Points for big-band feel, though.
It’s the title of the show! This should be a better song. It is just okay.
12. “On Lexington & 52nd Street”
It’s the only Joe DiMaggio solo number in the show, and it is a downer.
13. “Never Give All the Heart”
Again, if Bombshell were a real show, this number should get cut. Zzzzz.
14. “Touch Me”
15. “Don’t Forget Me”
“When you see someone’s hurt, and in need of a hand, don’t forget me.” That’s not the place Marilyn Monroe occupies in culture — and the line is symptomatic of Smash’s general misunderstanding of what she represents. It’s not romance, and it’s not kindness, and it’s not even sexiness, really: It’s the toxicity, yet the allure, of celebrity culture.
16. “A Thousand and One Nights”
Everyone thinks the Bollywood number was the worst song of the season, but they are wrong. It’s the second worst.
17. “Dig Deep”
Stanislavsky, jokes about the Monroe Doctrine, lines from A Streetcar Named Desire — all in one song!
We’re not including the line from Three on a Match, nor are we counting the two lines from “Arthur Miller Melody,” which we only hear a snippet of when Julia’s husband sings it to prove to himself that she’s cheating on him.
Ah, Smash, we’ve missed you.