Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Smile (from “Modern Times”)

Written by Charles Chaplin and first performed (as an instrumental) in Modern Times (1936).
Hit versions by Nat “King” Cole (US #10/UK #2 1954), Sunny Gale (US #19 1954).
Also recorded by Michael Jackson (1995).

From the wiki: “‘Smile’ was first performed untitled in Charlie Chaplin’s 1936 part-talkie motion picture Modern Times as film’s ‘romance theme’. Chaplin, the composer, says he found inspiration for the song in Puccini’s ‘Tosca’. The composition was arranged for the movie by Edward Powell & David Raskin with the soundtrack orchestra conducted by Alfred Newman (one of Randy Newman’s uncles).

“John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons later added the lyrics and the ‘Smile’ title in 1954. The lyrics were based on lines and themes from the motion picture, telling the listener to cheer up and that there is always a bright tomorrow, ‘just as long as you smile.’

“Nat ‘King’ Cole recorded the first version with lyrics. It charted in 1954, reaching #10 on the Billboard charts and #2 on the UK Singles Chart. Cole’s recording was also used at the beginning of the 1975 movie Smile. Sunny Gale, backed by the Hugo Winterhalter Orchestra, would cover ‘Smile’ in 1954, reaching #19 on the Billboard chart.

“Michael Jackson often cited ‘Smile’ as his favorite 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, its release 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 single releases. In 2009 at Jackson’s memorial, his brother Jermaine Jackson sang a version of the song in Michael’s honor.”

Nat “King” Cole, “Smile” (1954):

Sunny Gale, “Smile” (1954):

Michael Jackson, “Smile” (1995):

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