Tuesday, January 30th, 2018

Keala Settle & The Greatest Showman Ensemble – This Is Me

It’s awards season and boy are we cranky…


Alfred Soto: I imagine this inspirational number would work splendidly as bumper music for a NBC show, for even Joel Osment would find it, to quote Karen Richards, de trop

Iain Mew: Like someone wearing all of their clothes on top of each other at once.

John Seroff: I haven’t and won’t see The Greatest Showman, so perhaps I’m completely mistaken in the intent of the video clip (and no shade to Keala), but the unmitigated ahistorical gall of co-opting the travails of real life, overwhelmingly black sideshow performers in the service of setting up a sub-Scherzinger self-affirmation pablum boiler is gross enough before it becomes clear that the real purpose of the song is to aid onscreen frisson between sometimes-fashion models Zendaya and Zac Efron. Yuck.

Will Adams: The sandblasted inspiro-pop is a good fit for a musical number that similarly sandblasts its history. Feeling down because your life’s worth has been reduced to being gawked at onstage and abused offstage? That’s nothing an anachronistic empowerment anthem and choreography won’t solve!

Julian Axelrod: I haven’t seen the film, but based on this I’m assuming it’s about a woman who overcomes an angry mob of Hamilton extras and her fear of gigantic drums to form Imagine Dragons?

Hannah Jocelyn: When I was younger, I had issues with processing sound — not because I wasn’t sensitive, but because I was oversensitive, taking in too much sensory input at once. This would usually result in whatever the 3-year-old equivalent of get me the fuck out was. I still have occasional moments where that’s triggered (concerts, particularly intense movies, crowded subways), and somehow, listening to the studio version of this song was one of those moments. What did me in were the jump-scare electronic drum fills, which feel tonally jarring both thematically and sonically, and the overproduction of the choirs which obscures some genuinely powerful performances. Instead of expanding the scope, the elements only make the whole production, and me, feel more claustrophobic. It didn’t matter what the lyrics are, because even though they’re better-than-average for this kind of inspirational song, it’s not like I’d even be able to pick them out when everything else is making me go borderline numb. (In this house, “This Is Me” is always preceded by “this is real” and succeeded by “I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.”) The whole Plattenization-of-P.T. Barnum doesn’t matter, nor does the strange lack of energy in the visuals when the sound affects me like this. Looking up the credits, I saw people on all ends whose work I generally admire (even Pasek and Paul, who already wrote the Lawful Good to this song’s Chaotic Evil), so I can’t explain how this total mess happened. But get me the fuck out of the sum of its parts.

Katie Gill: The only reason Dear Evan Hansen won all those Tonys is because the cast can sell the hell out of those generic lyrics and middle of the road tunes. Pasek and Paul are boring, have always been boring and this boring-ass “inspirational” song that hits every cliche in the book and uses every lazy songwriting technique known to man doesn’t help their case. This is the song that New Directions would write and perform on the season finale of Glee because they need an original song to actually win Regionals, you guys! This song will be played in the background as NBC advertises it’s new fall schedule to try and show just how unique and daring the network is. And it’s gonna win the Best Original Song Oscar because of course it fucking will.

Reader average: [5.4] (5 votes)

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14 Responses to “Keala Settle & The Greatest Showman Ensemble – This Is Me”

  1. Yeah, this is bad. How the movie is seeing so much success (relative for a musical, that is) is beyond me. I saw it and it was laughably bad; what’s most shocking is how this song keeps being paraded around as a knock-out.

  2. Same except with Call Me By Your Name and the Sufjan song

  3. Ok , Josh, sorry, but you’re just wrong there. :shrug:

  4. If this crap beats out Sufjan at the Oscars I’ll be so mad, why I’ll… probably cuss out the TV as much as I did when these chuckleheads’ bland clichés beat out Moana.

  5. Thank you, Katie. I’m glad that I’m not the only theatre kid who isn’t head over heels for Pasek and Paul. There’s genuinely exciting and innovative stuff in the world of musical theatre, so the desire to constantly fête these guys is disappointing.

  6. Besides, there is only one great song with the title “This Is Me”, and it’s Demi Lovato’s from Camp Rock

  7. Now I’m curious as to how any La La Land would have scored. Probably high 3s to mid-4s, most commentary about how it’s all just too lightweight.

  8. 2.09 actually lol http://www.thesinglesjukebox.com/?p=22948

  9. 2.09 is a fair score for the song tbh. Definitely would’ve given it and Start A Fire a [2] at most. Another Day of Sun, Someone in the Crowd, and Audition (The Fools Who Dream) are all better but I don’t think they were that successful in the context of the film.

    Also to clarify, I haven’t seen The Greatest Showman but I’m sure I’d dislike it a lot more than Call Me By Your Name. Just find it odd that the latter received such overwhelming praise (along with Ladybird, Faces Places, Dawson City, 24 Frames…) I don’t like the Sufjan song at all but I’d be happy if he won.

  10. Yeah, that score is about right. The best bits of La La Land’s music are ironically the instrumental-only parts, like how the montage part of City of Stars is way better than either performance of the song. And the duo version of the song is particularly bad for what TSJ normally evaluates.

    As for the success of The Greatest Showman, consider how pure floof musicals were the escapism of choice in turbulent times of the past.

  11. fistbump for theater kids with the same mindset, Alex. last year’s Tonys was just an exercise in me making sad noises at the screen.

    another theory as to why Greatest Showman is making that $$$, there’s always a winter musical that comes out sometime around Christmas that’s a recognizable property/relatively inoffensive which you can take your mom to. Les Mis, Into the Woods, Dreamgirls, even La La Land technically counts as one.

  12. I’m all about BARNUM! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barnum_(musical)

  13. I love musicals and am happy to see them return as a Big Thing both on stage and the screen, but I’m similarly confused as to why Pasek and Paul get the big numbers. La La Land was, number wise, not a stand-out thing in any way. I’ve checked out this Showman soundtrack and struggle to remember anything. Hugh’s enthusiasm seems genuine and probably pulls some people in.

    I think it’s mostly luck. People are hungrier for musicals than Hollywood anticipated, so the big time attempts at making musicals become surprise success stories even without the great tunes. The new 00s movie musical era is yet to get its Mormon or Hamilton – big success stories that also feel original – but the goal is open, it seems any half decent attempt will get the audience’s attention, someone will hopefully come along capitalizing on that but doing it better.

  14. I just read a Sound on Sound article about “Rewrite The Stars” and oh my lord that one has 333 individual tracks, while others (including this probably) exceeded 400.

    Even Greg Wells, who produced the soundtrack, seemed around as overwhelmed as I was;

    “I remember saying to the two songwriters for the movie, Justin Paul and Benj Pasek, ‘Normally I find that less is more,’ and they laughed and said, ‘Greg, we think that in this project, you’ll find that more is actually more.’ So that kind of became the motto of the whole project.”