Okay, kitty girls, what do we think?
Taylor Swift, who made headlines this week when she accused Big Machine Label Group founder Scott Borchetta and music manager Scooter Braun of “exercising tyrannical control” over her old music, has released a new song, “Beautiful Ghosts.”
Universal Pictures announced last month that the vocal LGBTQ ally and legendary composer Andrew Lloyd Webber had collaborated on an original song for Tom Hooper’s (The King’s Speech, Les Misérables, The Danish Girl) upcoming live-action/CGI film adaptation of Cats, Lloyd Webber’s Tony-winning musical.
“Beautiful Ghosts” is performed in Cats by Royal Ballet principal dancer Francesca Hayward as Victoria, a character that has been expanded for the film. It is later reprised by Dame Judi Dench as Old Deuteronomy.
THIS IS NOT A DRILL KITTENS#BeautifulGhosts is OUT NOW✨
The @taylorswift13 and @OfficialALW collab featured in #CatsMovie
In theaters December 20
Listen here now: https://t.co/XqMbjLwKqY pic.twitter.com/vPIaW2l5qh
— CATS (@catsmovie) November 15, 2019
Swift, who plays Bombalurina, also recorded a studio version of “Beautiful Ghosts” that plays over the film’s end credits. That version has now been released along with a lyric video.
Cats is based on T.S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, a 1939 collection of poems. Hooper wrote the film’s screenplay with Billy Elliot screenwriter Lee Hall.
“When I first read the screenplay… the first thing I said was, ‘We have to have a song for Victoria,’” said Lloyd Webber in a recent behind-the-scenes video documenting the creation and recording of “Beautiful Ghosts,” which he called “an incredibly important, central part of the whole film.”
After Lloyd Webber played Swift his music for the new song, Swift wrote the lyrics “then and there, more or less,” he added.
“When you started playing the music, it was just this beautiful, haunting melody,” Swift recalled. “T.S. Eliot is such a specific type of writer and uses such specific language and imagery. Reading through his work and everything, I just really wanted to reflect that… You can’t write a modern lyric for Cats. So if you can’t get T.S. Eliot, get T.S. I’m here for you.”
“What I couldn’t believe was the extraordinary beauty of these lyrics that Taylor had written,” said Hooper. “It was as if someone had come into the film I was in the middle of making and… reflected back to me a profound understanding of what we’re trying to do with the movie, so it was utterly thrilling.”
— CATS (@catsmovie) July 18, 2019
The movie musical, choreographed by Andy Blankenbuehler (Hamilton, In the Heights), also stars Jennifer Hudson, Ian McKellen, James Corden, Idris Elba, Jason Derulo, and Rebel Wilson.
Cats, which premiered in 1981 on London’s West End, is the fourth longest-running show in Broadway history: The original production opened on Broadway in 1983 and ran for 18 years. A 2016 Broadway revival closed the following year.
Cats opens in theaters December 20.
Watch the “Beautiful Ghosts” lyric video below.