Last Friday in the site open, I wrote about Cats and whether or not Entertainment Weekly and Oscar experts were sleeping on Cats as an Oscar contender. They’d just released a promo video featuring Taylor Swift, revealing that she’d co-written a song with Andrew Lloyd Webber for the new movie. Obviously Taylor will be a big part of this promotion. She’s active on social media, Swifties are one of the most engaged fanbases out there, she’s basically the Cats’ top gun. Top feline? Top pussy? I’m SORRY. I couldn’t resist that very bad joke.
Taylor loves receiving awards. Taylor’s written a song for a musical directed by Oscar winner Tom Hooper. Of course the plan is to submit the song for Best Original Song at the Oscars. And the campaign has already started. Taylor’s talking about her work – not just in writing the song but in being ready to write the song. In an interview with Zane Lowe, Taylor says that during filming, she’d show up on set even on days she wasn’t on the call-sheet, just to see how the film was coming together, to see the other actors developing their characters. She tells Zane that she knew there could be a new song, not part of the original musical, and that she was hoping to be asked to be involved. And then, finally, Andrew Lloyd Webber asked her to come over. He played her the music; she realised immediately it was fresh. And in that moment she had the lyrics ready to go and sang what she calls the “top line” and not only that, since she’s so familiar with the source material, and how it was being adapted for the film, she knew exactly where the piece would go and when:
“He’s playing this, and I’m running through all the score of ‘Cats,’ like, ‘This is not in the original musical.’ …. There’s no top line. So, a top line on a song is the words and the melody that somebody sings. So if you have a song stuck in your head, chances are you’re singing the top line. What he has got is this beautiful instrumental piece. As soon as he starts playing it, I start singing the top line.
“I knew where in the movie they were going to put her song,” Swift continued. “I had been kind of gathering data, but I had no idea what the song was like. I didn’t have sheet music … I knew that it would be right after Jennifer Hudson sings ‘Memory.’ I thought, wouldn’t it be interesting if you had this little young kitten reflect off of what she just heard and give sort of her counter point of view? Because ‘Memory’ is Grizabella singing about how she had all these beautiful, incredible moments in her past. She had these glittering occasions and she felt beautiful and she felt wanted and now she doesn’t feel that way anymore. And I was just thinking, okay, so what if you’ve got this little kitten that’s been deserted and kind of tossed out by her owners, and she’s had to wander around the streets of London wondering where she’s going to find a home. Wouldn’t she be thinking, ‘At least you had those amazing memories’? Basically, the first line that came to me was like, ‘And the memories were lost long ago, but at least you have beautiful ghosts.’ … I learned later that they had this beautiful piece of music, but they didn’t know what they wanted the cat to say. So I was like, ‘Got you.’ Like, ‘I know what that cat would say.'”
This is what Taylor does that turns me on so much: she’s out there actively building her own mythology. And as annoying as she can be sometimes, I’m never annoyed when she’s showing her work – which is what she’s doing here, and it’s not unintentional. She’s making sure you know how prepared she is, how studied she is, how she rolled with Andrew Lloyd Webber, no problem. The Golden Globes will be very receptive to this. She’s definitely going to be there. Golden Globes weekend is during the Oscar voter nomination period. You know how this works. Will Taylor Swift be at the Dolby on Sunday February 9? Remember, they’re probably pushing for a Best Original Song nomination from The Lion King too. It could be Taylor AND Beyoncé there that night.
You’ll note, in the interview with Zane Lowe, Taylor talks about how much fun it is hanging out with Andrew Lloyd Webber because he has the best gossip. Is that so? NO! Taylor Swift gossips?!! Of course she does. What have I been telling you for years? Celebrities are the BIGGEST gossips!