Smile (Charlie Chaplin song)

Song by Nat King Cole
Published 1936 (Instrumental theme), 1954 (Lyrics added to song)
Length 2:52
Writer(s) John Turner
Geoffrey Parsons
Composer(s) Charlie Chaplin
Language English
Nat King Cole

"Smile" is a song based on an instrumental theme used in the soundtrack for the 1936 Charlie Chaplin 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. It was used as the theme song on NBC's The Jerry Lewis Show from 1967-69. In 2012, Rachael Leahcar sang the song on the first season of The Voice Australia, charting at number 34 on the Australian Singles Chart.[3]

Nat King Cole version

Nat King Cole recorded the first version with lyrics. It charted in 1954, reaching number 10 on the Billboard charts and number 2 in the UK Singles Chart.

Diana Ross version

Diana Ross recorded a version on her 1976 album.[4]

Michael Jackson version

Single by Michael Jackson
from the album HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I
Released January 20, 1998
Format CD single, 12" single
Recorded March 11–12, 1993 at the Olympic Studio, (London, England)
Genre Soul
Length 4:55 (album version)
4:10 (short version)
Label Epic
Writer(s) Charlie Chaplin (music)
John Turner, Geoffrey Parsons (lyrics)
Producer(s) David Foster
Michael Jackson
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 eighth 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 collectible of all Jackson's releases. James Hunter of Rolling Stone wrote a negative review: "the climactic version of Charlie Chaplin's "Smile" has zero point of view on itself; its blend of rampaging ego and static orchestral pop is a Streisand-size mistake."[5] Entertainment Weekly called this version of the song a "destined-for-Disney rendition."[6] In 2009 at Jackson's memorial, his brother Jermaine Jackson sang a version of the song in Michael's honor.[7]

Track listing

CD maxi single[8]

  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[8]

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
U.S. Billboard Hot Digital Songs 56[9]
Chart (2009) Peak
UK Singles Chart 74[10]
Swiss Singles Chart 70[11]

Misia version

The Japanese singer Misia recorded the song with three choral groups of children from Sendai, one of the cities affected by the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. The song, which served as the theme for the animated film Friends: Mononoke Shima no Naki, was released in December 2011 on her Misia no Mori: Forest Covers album.[12] Her version charted at number 41 on the Billboard Japan Hot 100.[13] Misia performed the song on her 2011-2012 concert tour The Tour of Misia Japan Soul Quest.[14]


  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.
  4. "Diana Ross – Diana Ross". Discogs. Retrieved September 12, 2016.
  5. 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.
  6. Browne, David (June 23, 1995). "HIStory: Past, Present, and Future Book I Review | Music Reviews and News". Entertainment Weekly.
  7. Montgomery, James (July 7, 2009). "Jermaine Jackson brings 'Smile,' tears to Michael Jackson memorial". MTV.
  8. 1 2 "MICHAEL JACKSON - SMILE (SONG) - CD Info".
  9. "Michael Jackson - Chart History - Digital Songs". Billboard. Retrieved September 12, 2016. Smile Michael Jackson King of Pop [Thailand] July 25, 2009
  10. "Michael Jackson | Artist". Official Charts. Retrieved 2014-02-03.
  11. "Michael Jackson - Smile". Hung Medien. Retrieved 2014-02-03.
  12. "MISIAが「泣いた赤おに」アニメ映画で世界的名曲カバー". Natasha. September 14, 2011.
  13. "Billboard Japan Hot 100". Billboard. Retrieved November 24, 2015.

External links

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-)
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