That spirit is evident in the singing. Zellweger will never have Garland's pipes, but she can convey her gumption and sorrow. According to Vanity Fair, Zellweger didn't just record songs Garland made famous, like "Come Rain or Come Shine" and "Over The Rainbow." She actually was there belting live during filming with a full band behind her. "[Goold] decided to do everything live because he wanted to capture the shared experience that a performer has with an audience," Zellweger told VF. "I’ll forgive Rupert one day for doing that to me. It wasn’t easy."
We knew, thanks to her Oscar-nominated work as the murderess Roxie Hart in the musical Chicago, that Zellweger could sing. (Fun fact: Garland's daughter, Liza Minnelli, played Roxie in the original Broadway run, briefly taking over for Gwen Verdon.) But the actress has said that singing as Judy was a new challenge. "I never tried to sing songs like this before because I just didn't think that my voice was suited to it," she told Billboard. "I thought, 'I have a tiny voice. I have a bright little voice, and these are songs that require a bit more power and resonance.' I didn't believe that, like going to the gym and building any other muscle in your body, that you could manipulate your vocal muscles."
Judy's register at the time was notably lower than Zellweger's own, but the great vocalist also wasn't operating at the height of her powers. "They played for me one of the later recordings on not a great night of one of Judy's shows, and they said, 'This is the goal right here where she's not quite hitting that note and she's cheating with the breath here, and she's cut that short and she's talking that part and the band gets big so that the fade is not noticeable,'" Zellweger explained. "That was the goal. And I thought, 'Right, okay. Now we have this year and I can go and I can build and I can work to maybe not hit that note once.'"
But Zellweger is still good enough that a soundtrack of her interpretations of these numbers is set to be released alongside the film. You can already listen to "Over the Rainbow," as well as her duet of "Get Happy" alongside Sam Smith. Eventually a version of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" featuring Zellweger and Rufus Wainwright, one of the great Judy interpreters, will also drop. Nothing can match Garland's originals, especially in her heyday. (Just listen to Judy at Carnegie Hall and swoon.) But all credit to Zellweger for attempting to match the legend at her highs and lows.