‘Greatest Showman’ Soundtrack: How 2018’s Biggest Album (So Far) Came to Be

No one expected the greatest show on earth to translate into the biggest-selling album on earth. Yet the “Greatest Showman” soundtrack hasn’t faced anything remotely competitive when it comes to the mantle for 2018’s top album, at the midway point… even if Drake is soon poised to overtake it. It’s sold about 1.1 million copies this year, more than twice as many as the No. 2 contender, Justin Timberlake’s “Man of the Woods.” Seven months into its run, the soundtrack shows no signs of slowing, continuing week after week to sit in the top two or three on the iTunes and Amazon sales charts. Overseas, it’s no less a juggernaut; the ”Showman” just reached the pinnacle of the British sales chart for the 21st non-consecutive week.

We could put it all down to Hugh Jackman’s irresistible pop-star prowess, or we could look to the creative team behind the music, songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul and producer Greg Wells. The latter was not just a secret ingredient but a savior for the project, coming on less than six months before the release date to take primary control of a song score that’d been suffering from too many cooks. That Wells had never even worked on a film soundtrack before was no particular minus to director Michael Gracey, who was hardly looking for someone with a lot of cast-album bona fides. He found someone with contemporary sheen and ship-righting know-how in Wells, whose producing and/or co-writing credits include OneRepublic (“Apologize”), Twenty One Pilots (the “Vessel” album), Adele (“One and Only”), Keith Urban (“Wasted Time”) and Katy Perry (“Waking Up in Vegas”).

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