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"Smile" is a song, originally used as an instrumental theme in the soundtrack for the 1936 Charlie Chaplin movie Modern Times. Chaplin composed the music, while the words were written by John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons. In the lyrics, 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.

Original version

The song was originally sung by Nat King Cole, charted in 1954. It was also covered by Cole's daughter, Natalie on her 1991 album, Unforgettable...With Love.

Michael Jackson version

Singer Michael Jackson recorded the song for his 1995 double album HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I. It was planned to be released as the eighth single from the album in 1997 but was canceled days before its release date. Only a few copies from the Netherlands, Germany and South Africa (where the record distribution was started previous to the withdrawal) were saved as the other copies were withdrawn. The rarest pressings include the CD maxi single (estimated value over €500) and the single track promo.

The remixes on this release have never been released commercially since, but some can also be found on the "Is It Scary" promotional 12" records from the UK. The "Downtempo Groove Mix" is the rarest mix of this song because it was only released on the maxi. The remix was uncredited, but was actually done by Eddie Arroyo.

Jackson had never performed this song live; an HBO special was once planned with the song being performed, but Jackson collapsed during the concert's rehearsals. During the final concerts of his HIStory World Tour, the song was played at the beginning of each concert in memory of Princess Diana.

Around November 2005, a number of bootlegged 12" records appeared on eBay and some record fairs in Germany and The Netherlands. This explains why the 12" presses are the most common, although the original is still considered the most rare. The short version of "Smile" was later re-issued on the deluxe United Kingdom edition of King of Pop in 2008.

Michael Jackson's brother, Jermaine Jackson, sang "Smile" at his memorial service on July 7, 2009, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, shortly after Michael Jackson's friend Brooke Shields mentioned it had been Jackson's favorite song. He also sang it in an interview with Today at Neverlandmarker before the memorial and only days after Michael had passed, just very short because he was still in tears and he said "it's hard". During the internationally televised public memorial, Jermaine switched the words "gladness" and "sadness" in the lyrics, possibly in an unintentional flub of the lyrics.

The song has since charted at #74 in the UK, #71 in Germany, #70 in Switzerland and at #56 in Australia.

Track listings

Promotional maxi single
  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

Promotional 12" single
  • 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


Chart (2009) Peak

U.S. Billboard Hot Digital Songs 56

Other versions

  • For his most recent tour Einfach Ich, Austrian composer Udo Jürgens sings this in a duet with Stevie Woods, together with his own composition Nur ein Lächeln; 'Just a Smile'.

  • In Britainmarker, rival versions were released by Lita Roza and Petula Clark. Clark later re-recorded it for her 1968 album The Other Man's Grass Is Always Greener, by which time she was a personal friend of Charlie Chaplin.

  • The melody of "Smile" was remixed by Gigi D'Agostino and played during his live-sets and on his radio-show in 2008.

  • In the 1994 film My Girl 2, the character Maggie Muldovan (Vada's mother) (played by Angeline Ball), , sings "Smile" a cappella for the camera in an old home movie. Vada (played by Anna Chlumsky) than sang it to her new baby brother when she visited him in the hospital.

  • "Smile" was also used as the closing theme for the 1964-1975 finale of the game show Jeopardy!.

  • Jermaine Jackson performed his rendition of "Smile" at his brother Michael's internationally televised public memorial but switched the words “gladness” and “sadness” in the lyrics, possibly either to convey the sadness his family was experiencing with the loss of their brother, Michael, or an unintentional flub of the lyrics.


  2. U.S. Billboard Hot Digital Songs

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