At the center of the recording are Megan Hilty and Katharine McPhee, who play Ivy and Karen, the two actresses vying for the lead role of Marilyn Monroe in the fictional Broadway tuner that's being developed on the series. Both performers are remarkably adept at offering up a wide array of pop music covers, as well as the songs that have been written for the series by Tony Award winners Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman.
Among McPhee's highlights are her delivery of Ryan Tedder's "Touch Me," which is instantly infectious with its driving dance beat, and her soaring cover of Christina Aguilera's "Beautiful." It's particularly impressive that this track's ubiquity online and on television before the show's premiere has done nothing to diminish her rendition of the inspirational tune.
For Hilty, the standout solos are her passionately soulful take on Jessie J.'s "Who You Are," and her sultry and somewhat earthy rendition of the Carrie Underwood hit "Crazy Dreams." In addition, McPhee and Hilty's voices blend to gorgeous effect in Shaiman and Wittman's "Let Me Be Your Star."
The album also contains some fine performances by the show's male performers. Leslie Odom, Jr. sounds deliciously silky as he joins McPhee for Donnie McClurkin's gospel-infused "Stand." Will Chase and Hilty complement each other marvelously on the original songs "Mr. and Mrs. Smith," which they deliver with charmingly romantic delicacy, and "History Is Made at Night," where the two infuse the song's smoky bluesy melody with palpable sexiness.
In his one solo, guest star Nick Jonas (who is set to return for the season finale on May 14) demonstrates his ability to belt out a contemporary ballad with a passionate cover of Michael Bublé's "Haven't Met You Yet."
Music theater fans will, most likely, want to make sure they get the version of the album that's being carried exclusively at Target, which contains five bonus tracks, including covers of Kurt Weill and Maxwell Anderson's "September Song" (from Knickerbocker Holiday) sung by Anjelica Huston, and the Jule Styne-Stephen Sondheim classic "Everything's Coming Up Roses" (from Gypsy) performed by guest star Bernadette Peters. This deluxe edition also includes Ruby and the Romantics' "Our Day Will Come," Kelly Clarkson's "Breakaway," and Snow Patrol's "Run."