Vitamin C encourages everyone to suppress any hint of anger in the condescending “Smile.”
A chipper beat opens the single. Lady Saw says “all right, all right.”
In the first verse, Vitamin C – in a mock stiff manner – says what people need to do to be happy. After waking up from a nap, people want to forget the horrible day that just happened. However, once they see the bills on the table and a commercial for the new toy they can’t afford, they get grumpy. Vitamin C says life doesn’t turn out the way it’s supposed to. It’s just how life is.
“First of all/When you wake up in the evening and the day is shot/Find yourself complaining ’bout the thing you ain’t got/Never crossed just the way that you wanted it to/Cliche of the day, cest la vie that’s just.”
In the chorus, she says life has its ups and downs. Lady Saw asks her how people can deal with it. Vitamin C responds that people can put a forced smile on their face to get through the day.
“Life, it ain’t easy/It’s so tough/It ain’t easy/(Whatchu wanna do, say whatchu gonna do)/Put a smile on your face/Make the world a better place/Put a smile on your face/(Whatchu wanna do, say whatchu gonna do)/Put a smile on your face/Make the world a better place/Put a smile on your face/(Whatchu wanna do, say whatchu gonna do).”
In the second verse, Vitamin C introduces it in a mock stiff way again. She adds that she has more to say. People think she’s naive and self-righteous. However, she says that it’s all about karma. If people are kind to others, people will be kind in return.
“And another thing/You can say that I’m a dreamer and you think it’s uncool/Preaching ’bout the better life I learned in school/But you get what you give in this life that we live/And all that you do come back to you.”
After the chorus, Lady Saw raps. She repeats the same thoughts Vitamin C said in the first verse. Then, she tells people not to be rude to each other. Even if they’re having a bad day, they shouldn’t take it out on other people. She says it should be a national effort, like a ‘Be Happy’ campaign. People will be fulfilled if they are kind. If they don’t follow her instructions, the brainwashing, er, generosity wouldn’t spread.
“Yo/When things isn’t right there’s no need to figh/tCome on be nice/No need to fight/
Stay polite even when you’re hurting don’t forget to smile/Give love to our nation, big or small/When you do good you’ll get your reward/United with stand, divided we fall/Put a smile on your face and greet one and all.”
After the chorus, Lady Saw has another rap section. She uses guilt to make people smile. She says people will dislike others if they don’t grin. She grants people cheer and joy from the United States to Jamaica. Then, she crowns herself the Happiness God and says that she’ll make sure people are smiling.
“People love you when you smile/And hate you when it’s through/Lots of happiness/
We are wishing you/If you come from Jamaica or Honolulu, yeah/Keep a smile on your face/I’ll see the good that you do.”
Lady Saw ends the single by telling people to smile and that by doing so, their problems will be solved.
“Smile (smile)/And everything will be fine/Smile.”
“Smile” only succeeds during Vitamin C’s verses. She is laid-back and unflappable. She is self-aware about her perkiness and realizes it can irritate others. Lady Saw’s autocratic raps, however, take the idea too far. It’s like smiling becomes a national requirement. The patriotism allusion makes it Big Brother-ish.
Lady Saw distracts from the canny dance beat. It’s unfortunate that the summery and rosy beat isn’t heard due to the tacked-on reggae elements.