Broadway

'Smash': Every Song From the Show's Marilyn Monroe Musical 'Bombshell,' Ranked

Megan Hilty Ivy Bell
Will Hart/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

Megan Hilty as Ivy Bell.

In the seven years since it's been off the air, Smash has gone on to become a cult fan favorite of Broadway fans — so much so that on Wednesday (May 20), the cast of the NBC series is reuniting for a special live stream of their 2015 one-night-only show Bombshell in Concert to help raise money for the Actors Fund.

Part of what makes Smash such a cultural phenomenon is the fictional musical at its center, Bombshell. Written by Broadway legends Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, Bombshell follows the life and times of Hollywood superstar Marilyn Monroe, from her humble beginnings as Norma Jeane Mortenson, to her cultural dominance as one of the greatest movie stars of all time.

But how do the songs in Smash's Bombshell hold up on their own? Billboard decided to take look back at the fictional musical's score, and rank each of its 22 songs in honor of tonight's concert livestream and reunion.


22. "The Right Regrets" 

Every Broadway show needs at least one deeply-introspective, Act 2 ballad, where one or more characters rethink some of their past choices. But “The Right Regrets” just doesn’t manage to pull at your heartstrings the way it wants to. While Debra Messing and Christian Borle deserve praise for their lovely performances, “The Right Regrets” is one of very few songs that you can skip when listening to Bombshell

21. "Dig Deep"

Throughout Bombshell, Marilyn Monroe gets many opportunities to perform lighthearted, jazzy numbers as she finds herself in the company of specific kinds of men. By the time we get to “Dig Deep,” it’s a process we’ve become all-too familiar with, and this number about the blonde bombshell embracing her inner actor just doesn’t quite cut it. 

20. "Our Little Secret"

The alleged affair between Marilyn Monroe and President John F. Kennedy has long been subject to the celebrity rumor mill. Bombshell’s take on the tryst is markedly creepy, with JFK relentlessly seducing her with a Sinatra-esque slow jazz tune — and it makes for an uncomfortable number to both watch and listen to. 

19. "Smash!"

Like “Hang the Moon,” “Smash!” offers little in the way of plot development for Bombshell, simply showing a group of young actresses willing to “do whatever it takes” to make it into Hollywood. Especially in the #MeToo era, this number doesn’t age particularly well, even if the singing and music still do worm their way into your head.

18. "Hang the Moon"

As touching as this final mother-daughter duet is, “Hang the Moon” feels like an afterthought — a song tacked on toward the end of this show to tie a bow around the fraught relationship between Marilyn and her mother. Bernadette Peters and Megan Hilty sound great, but the number itself is a bit of fat that probably needs to be trimmed.

17. "Mr. & Mrs. Smith" 

While this lovely duet between Will Chase and Megan Hilty is utterly charming, its schmaltzy score and not-quite-a-ballad tempo don’t seem to fit into the rest of Bombshell’s soundtrack. Still, “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” serves as an adorable love song, allowing for both stars to show off their more tender sides.

16. "Cut, Print...Moving On" 

“Cut, Print…Moving On” has the unenviable task of closing out Bombshell’s first act, as Marilyn moves on from her divorce from Joe DiMaggio. Unfortunately, thanks to some earlier, more show-stopping numbers, it falls just short of satisfying the audience’s need for a big finish. 

15. "Don't Say Yes Until I Finish Talking" 

There’s something very appealing about listening to Christian Borle deliver this hilarious patter as Tinseltown legend Daryll Zanuck, shooting down his yes men at every given opportunity. While we would have loved to hear more singing from Borle in this show, “Don’t Say Yes” certainly gives him, and the audience, plenty to love. 

14. "On Lexington & 52nd Street"  

Will Chase puts so much emotion into his performance as Joe DiMaggio, all of which comes bursting out in the breakup song to end all breakup songs. Chase’s frenetic vocals manage to briefly turn you against our protagonist in the best way possible.

13. "Public Relations" 

Of all the songs in Bombshell, “Public Relations” contains some of the show’s best songwriting courtesy of Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman. With clever euphemisms and more than one twisted turn of phrase, along with an extremely catchy big band score, this tune about Monroe’s complex relationship with the press stands out.

12. "At Your Feet”

Bernadette Peters is an icon, and her appearance on “At Your Feet” makes you see why — even in a song about a mother abandoning her child Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, she still manages to charm you with her stunning performance.

11. "Never Give All the Heart"

“Never Give All the Heart” is one of the best uses of McPhee’s delicate vocals throughout the entirety of Bombshell, as a fragile Norma Jeane Mortenson displays her intellect, before making her transformation into Marilyn Monroe. McPhee’s rendition of the song is filled with complex emotion, and is certainly one of her best performances in all of Smash.

10. "I Never Met a Wolf Who Didn't Love to Howl" 

While "I Never Met a Wolf Who Didn't Love to Howl" doesn’t quite live up to some of the other dance numbers in the show, it certainly still has plenty to offer — Hilty exudes pure sex appeal as her Marilyn entrances some lucky soldiers. 

9. "Second Hand White Baby Grand" 

In Bombshell, Marilyn gets quite a few opportunities to bring the house down with big-budget performance numbers. But “Second Hand White Baby Grand” sees Megan Hilty’s Marilyn delivering her best ballad. There’s no doubt that by the end of this number, you’ll be wiping some misty tears away. 

8. "(Let's Start) Tomorrow Tonight" 

Three words: Leslie Odom, Jr. Before his star-making turn as the original Aaron Burr in Hamilton, the Broadway actor made for an exemplary Nat King Cole in this big band jazz number. Sure, it may not be essential to the story of Bombshell, but “(Let’s Start) Tomorrow Tonight” is certainly one of the musical’s most pleasant ditties.  

7. "The National Pastime"

“The National Pastime” is Bombshell at its most fun — the lyrics may not break new ground in terms of character development, but the use of baseball as a euphemism makes it endlessly enjoyable, as does Hilty’s best Monroe impression on the show’s soundtrack. 

6. "History is Made at Night"

Who doesn’t love a good doo-wop number? “History Is Made At Night” manages to offer a tender look at the relationship between Marillyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio, while also embracing the bouncy, flirtatious nature of Bombshell, with the added benefit of Megan Hilty and Will Chase’s superb vocal talents.

5. "Don't Forget Me"

If “Let Me Be Your Star” is the perfect way to open up Bombshell, then “Don’t Forget Me” is the perfect way to close it. McPhee’s breathy, subtle vocals underscore the raw emotion of a song where Marilyn sings from beyond the grave. As the song grows, so does McPhee’s performance, as she lets out one final belt to close out an excellent number.

4. "The 20th Century Fox Mambo"

Not only is the concept behind “The 20th Century Fox Mambo” cleverly executed, but in the first season of Smash, it gave fans of Katharine McPhee’s Karen Cartwright something to rally behind. The singer not only breaks through with her pitch-perfect vocals, but shows off some of her best dance skills as Norma Jean Mortenson makes her final transformation into Marilyn Monroe — quite literally before our eyes. 

3. "They Just Keep Moving the Line” 

Sometimes, simple is best — in “They Just Keep Moving the Line,” Bombshell doesn’t rely on a big dance number, a massive ensemble or anything else but the smooth, sultry voice of Megan Hilty. The lyrics see Marilyn contending with the cruel double standards of society, as Hilty belts out some truly stratospheric notes to make sure her point is heard. 

2. "Let's Be Bad"

Bombshell has more than its fair share of show-stopping numbers, but no other song does it quite as spectacularly as “Let’s Be Bad.” Megan Hilty’s voice shines on this 1920s-themed romp, as she shows Monroe slowly spiraling downward during the filming of Some Like It Hot. Combine that with a score that won’t stop ratcheting up and some awe-inspiring, Emmy-winning choreography, and you get a song that leaves you breathless. 

1. "Let Me Be Your Star"

There is perhaps no greater tradition in musical theatre than the “I Want” song — you meet your protagonist for the first time and they, in turn, profess their deepest desire, setting the stage (literally) for the rest of the show. “Let Me Be Your Star” may well go down in history as one of the most perfect examples of what an “I Want” song should be able to accomplish. 

The song’s lyrics and drive naturally posture Marilyn Monroe against the world, and more importantly, Ivy against Karen as they audition for the role of Marilyn. With it’s earnest lyrics and incredible vocals from Megan Hilty and Katharine McPhee, it’s no wonder why “Let Me Be Your Star” has gone on to become the flagship song of Smash.