Watch : In defense of Taylor Swift’s performance in “Cats”…

Watch : In defense of Taylor Swift's performance in

 

When she posed for Time’s 2023 “Person of the Year” cover wearing one of her three cats draped around her neck like a boa, Taylor Swift seemed to cement her status as, in the words of New York Magazine, “America’s foremost Cat Lady.” But if you really want to pinpoint the 12-time Grammy winner’s apex as a feline icon, you need to go back five years, to director Tom Hooper’s unhinged cinematic adaption of Andrew Lloyd Weber’s “Cats.” But don’t think of the movie as “Cats.” Think of it as “Cats: Taylor’s Version.” It’s a lot more fun that way.

 

Watch : In defense of Taylor Swift's performance in "Cats"...
Riding on a wave of acclaimed adaptions like 2012’s Oscar winning “Les Miserables,” 2014’s successful “Into the Woods” and two “Mama Mias,” the long awaited film version of one of the most beloved, longest running West End and Broadway musicals of all time seemed a solid bet back in 2019. But “Cats” is an . . . unusual show. For starters, it’s based on a book of poetry, T.S. Eliot’s ““Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats.” And as such, it’s about singing cats.

You know this, going in. Yet the cinematic adaptation is still really something else. I remember attending an early press screening of the then much-hyped, star-studded musical, and all of us in the audience were blinking back into the daylight as if we’d just emerged from a fever dream. It remains one of the oddest movie-going experiences of my life, and Taylor’s number, “Macavity,” is a shows toppingly bizarre highlight of a shows toppincgly bizarre movie. At the time, I described it by writing that “If ‘The Island of Doctor Moreau’ had a baby with that Gaspar Noe movie about the dance troupe that gets dosed and has a murder orgy, it would look just like this scene,” adding uncomfortably,”There are people out there, walking among us right now, who are definitely going to masturbate to it.” I watched “Cats” again recently – after Netflix acquired it – and I stand by this.

Yet as Taylor Swift has spent the past few years reevaluating her body of work, she’s invited her listeners to do the same, and why shouldn’t that include “Cats”? Revising her early albums and embarking on a retrospective “Eras” tour, she’s shown how an artist’s work and our own relationship to it change over time. I don’t know if I can in good conscience encourage anyone to watch or rewatch the movie in its entirety, but I do absolutely recommend a second look at what Swift is doing there.