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Smile (Charlie Chaplin song)

"Smile" is a song based on an instrumental theme used in the soundtrack for Charlie Chaplin's 1936 movie Modern Times. Chaplin composed the music, inspired by Puccini's Tosca.[1] John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons added the lyrics and title in 1954.[2] In the lyrics, based on lines and themes from the film, the singer is telling the listener to cheer up and that there is always a bright tomorrow, just as long as they smile. "Smile" has become a popular standard since its original use in Chaplin's film.

Song by Charlie Chaplin
Written1936 (instrumental theme), 1954 (lyrics)
Published1954 by Bourne
Composer(s)Charlie Chaplin

Judy Garland sang a memorable version of "Smile" on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1963.

Nat King Cole versionEdit

Nat King Cole

Nat King Cole recorded the first version with lyrics. It charted in 1954, reaching number 10 on the Billboard charts and number 2 on the UK Singles Chart. This version was also used at the beginning of the movie Smile.

Sammy Davis Jr. recorded a cover version of the Cole original, as part of his tribute album The Nat King Cole Songbook in 1965.


Chart (1954) Peak
Belgium Ultratop 2
US Billboard Hot 100 10
UK Singles Chart 2

Michael Jackson versionEdit

Single by Michael Jackson
from the album HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I
  • "Is It Scary"
  • "Off the Wall" (Junior Vasquez remix)
ReleasedJanuary 20, 1998 (1998-01-20)
RecordedMarch 11–12, 1995
StudioOlympic, London
Length4:55 (album version)
4:10 (short version)
Composer(s)Charlie Chaplin
Michael Jackson singles chronology
"Is It Scary"
"Stranger in Moscow"

Singer Michael Jackson often cited "Smile" as his favourite song and recorded it for his 1995 double album HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I. It was scheduled to be released as the seventh and final single from the album in 1998. However, it was cancelled at the last minute and only a few copies, mostly promos, went into circulation in the UK, South Africa and the Netherlands, making it one of the rarest and most collectible of all Jackson's releases.[3] Entertainment Weekly called this version of the song a "destined-for-Disney rendition."[4] In 2009 at Jackson's memorial, his brother Jermaine Jackson sang a version of the song in Michael's honor.[5]

Track listingEdit

CD maxi single[6]

  1. "Smile" (short version) – 4:10
  2. "Is It Scary" (radio edit) – 4:11
  3. "Is It Scary" (Eddie's Love Mix Edit) – 3:50
  4. "Is It Scary" (Downtempo Groove Mix) – 4:50
  5. "Is It Scary" (Deep Dish Dark and Scary Radio Edit) – 4:34

12" maxi single[6]

  • A1. "Smile" – 4:55
  • A2. "Is It Scary" (Deep Dish Dark and Scary Remix) – 12:07
  • B1. "Is It Scary" (Eddie's Rub-a-Dub Mix) – 5:00
  • B2. "Is It Scary" (Eddie's Love Mix) – 8:00
  • B3. "Off the Wall" (Junior Vasquez Remix) – 4:57

Promotional single

  1. "Smile" (short version) – 4:10

Promotional CD single

  1. "Smile" (short version) – 4:10
  2. "Is It Scary" (radio edit) – 4:11


Chart (2009) Peak
US Billboard Hot Digital Songs 56[7]
Chart (2009) Peak
UK Singles Chart 74[8]
Swiss Singles Chart 70[9]


  1. ^ Schiff, David (February 21, 2012). The Ellington Century. University of California Press. p. 92. ISBN 978-0520245877.
  2. ^ Linda Wada (March 2004). "Smile". Edna Purviance, Charlie Chaplin's Leading Lady - Welcome to Paradise. Retrieved 2010-05-02. Scans of the sheet music clearly attribute authorship of the music and lyrics.
  3. ^ Hunter, James (August 10, 1995). "Michael Jackson: HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I : Music Reviews : Rolling Stone". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on August 4, 2008.
  4. ^ Browne, David (June 23, 1995). "HIStory: Past, Present, and Future Book I Review | Music Reviews and News". Entertainment Weekly.
  5. ^ Montgomery, James (July 7, 2009). "Jermaine Jackson brings 'Smile,' tears to Michael Jackson memorial". MTV.
  6. ^ a b "MICHAEL JACKSON - SMILE (SONG) - CD Info".
  7. ^ "Michael Jackson - Chart History - Digital Songs". Billboard. Retrieved September 12, 2016. Smile Michael Jackson King of Pop [Thailand] July 25, 2009
  8. ^ "Michael Jackson | Artist". Official Charts. Archived from the original on 2012-04-13. Retrieved 2014-02-03.
  9. ^ "Michael Jackson - Smile". Hung Medien. Retrieved 2014-02-03.

External linksEdit

External video
  Chaplin's original sound on YouTube: Modern Times. (0:40:22-, 0:42:44-, 0:52:16-, 1:06:39-, and full version 1:21:25-)
  Smile in esperanto YouTube: Ridetu - Esperanto-versio -Smile. (0:03:15-)