Smile (Charlie Chaplin song)

"Smile" is a song based on an instrumental theme used in the soundtrack for Charlie Chaplin's 1936 film Modern Times. Chaplin, who composed the song, was 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.

Song by Charlie Chaplin
  • 1936 (instrumental theme)
  • 1954 (lyrics)
Published1954 by Bourne
Composer(s)Charlie Chaplin

"Smile" has become a popular standard since its original use in Chaplin's film and has been recorded by numerous artists.[3] The song was also recorded by Jimmy Durante as part of his album Jackie Barnett Presents Hello Young Lovers. His version is part of the soundtrack to the 2019 film Joker, starring Joaquin Phoenix and Robert De Niro.

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

The song was included in the soundtrack of Chaplin's 1992 biographical film, as covered by its lead actor Robert Downey Jr.

A version of Smile was used in a public information film from the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection in 1989, before another version of the PIF was shot using The Thinner The Air by Cocteau Twins.

Cover versionsEdit

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 1975 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)
ReleasedDecember 28, 1997 (1997-12-28)
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"
"You Rock My World"

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 1997. 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.[4] Entertainment Weekly called this version of the song a "destined-for-Disney rendition."[5] In 2009 at Jackson's memorial, his brother Jermaine Jackson sang a version of the song in Michael's honor.[6] This song is performed in the Michael Jackson: One Las Vegas production.

Track listingEdit

CD maxi single[7]

  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[7]

  • 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
Germany (Official German Charts)[8] 71
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[9] 70
UK Singles (OCC)[10] 74
US Digital Song Sales (Billboard)[11] 56

Other charting versionsEdit

September 1954: Sunny Gale (with Hugo Winterhalter Orchestra) - RCA Victor 5836 (#19)[12]

October 1954: David Whitfield - Decca F.10355 (#25)[12]


  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. ^ "". Retrieved March 24, 2020.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ Browne, David (June 23, 1995). "HIStory: Past, Present, and Future Book I Review | Music Reviews and News". Entertainment Weekly.
  6. ^ Montgomery, James (July 7, 2009). "Jermaine Jackson brings 'Smile,' tears to Michael Jackson memorial". MTV.
  7. ^ a b "MICHAEL JACKSON - SMILE (SONG) - CD Info".
  8. ^ " – Michael Jackson – Smile" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts.
  9. ^ " – Michael Jackson – Smile". Swiss Singles Chart.
  10. ^ "Michael Jackson: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company.
  11. ^ "Michael Jackson Chart History (Digital Song Sales)". Billboard.
  12. ^ a b Joel Whitburn (1986). Pop Memories 1890-1954. Record Research Inc. p. 580. ISBN 0-89820-083-0.

External linksEdit

External video
  Smile in esperanto YouTube: Ridetu - Esperanto-versio -Smile. (0:03:15-)