Keala Settle, Kesha & Missy Elliott – This Is Me

“This… is not an improvement”

Tim: So here’s a fun thing: since The Greatest Showman is so brilliant, and the soundtrack is still an amazing album, they’ve done a new version of it, getting big name artists to do their own versions of the songs, and called it The Greatest Showman: Reimagined. Some of them sound basically identical; some are considerably less good; there’s also this. (You may want to reacquaint yourself with the original first.)

Tom: I remember describing the original as “so polished you could slip on it and crack your head”. And this… is not an improvement, I don’t think?

Tim: Me neither. It took me by surprise when I was just listening to the album, as I’m sure you’d expect, and to be honest I really don’t know how well it works. I certainly get what they were going for, but is it just me, or does the rapping hang around for too long? The second part works a little bit better, because halfway through you’ve got some backing vocals coming in halfway through, but I can’t help feeling this might be a little bit improved with that first part only lasting half as long.

Tom: Possibly, but if you’re going to get actual Missy Elliott in to be on the track, you want to get your money’s worth.

Tim: Fair, but at least chop it in two, and put the second half after the first chorus – as it is, coming right at the beginning after a very short intro and with no indicator when it might stop, it just seems to drag a bit, before the meat of the song comes along. Just me?

Tom: Not just you.

Alan Walker, Keala Settle – This Is Me (Alan Walker Relift)

“Does Alan Walker remixing it make it better, worse, or just different?”

Tom: I described the original version of this track as “so polished that you could slip on it and crack your head”, although you were a lot more enthusiastic. The question is: does Alan Walker remixing it make it better, worse, or just different?

Tim: Hmm, see I’d been avoiding this one, largely because it was described to me as ‘not ideal’. But go on then, because it is, I suppose, a question I do want to know the answer to.

Tim: Huh – that is nowhere near as bad as I was worried it would be.

Tom: I’m going for “different” and “worse”. Which is a shame: but the original already had percussion and energy, it knew exactly what it was aiming for, this just confuses matters. Unlike a remix that takes an emotional slow number and makes it INCREDIBLE, or that turns a good key change into a ludicrous key change, this… just adds some beats where there didn’t need to be any.

Tim: Ah, you see this is where having listened to that original 20+ times on repeat gives me more info: there’s more than that. In particular, there’s a whole new lovely countermelody under it (which is what you can hear on the obligatory ‘click to subscribe’ bit at the end).

It’s most notable during the chorus, where previously there was nothing – just the vocal – and it actually does add something to it, in a positive way for me. Sure, there was power to come from having the vocal unencumbered by anything else, but I don’t think this detracts from it at all.

Tom: It’s a shame, because there is, no doubt, a good remix to be had here: it just needs to either be much more transformative, or of a different track from the musical.

Tim: Speaking of which, The Greatest Show recently got added to the playlist at work, and my job satisfaction has subsequently increased by at least 150%.

Keala Settle – This Is Me

“So polished that you could slip on it and crack your head.”

Tim: So I got quite excited when I heard they were making a film about P. T. Barnum, because he was a fascinating character and it has the potential to be a great story, and then I heard this song in the trailer.

Tim: Oh, isn’t it great? I mean, the film’s been in development for seven years, so you’d hope the songs would be quite polished, but still.

Tom: Blimey, that has almost every inspirational song trope there is. Military drums, backing gospel choir, big major key oh-way-ohs. That’s so polished that you could slip on it and crack your head.

Tim: Bit of context: Keala is the actress playing the show’s bearded lady who’s finally found a place for herself, and my word does it sound good. Melody, backing choir (oh, that backing choir), strong vocal, inspiring but not twee lyrics, memorable hook – it has everything, including that tempting replay button at the end.

Tom: You forgot the Meaningfully Quiet Middle Eight, and the (very good) high notes in the final chorus. I don’t know, maybe I’m just a cynic, but I listen to this and — while I can appreciate all the work that’s gone into it — it does just leave me a bit cold. Yes, well done songwriters, you have ticked all the boxes.

Tim: They so have. My favourite part? That DUM-DUM halfway through the second verse, which adds to everything else as a YES PAY ATTENTION moment, and it’s great. Fabulous song – fingers crossed for the film.