The upcoming movie adaptation of the 1981 musical Cats will feature ‘Beautiful Ghosts’, a song co-written by pop star and cast member Taylor Swift, and the musical’s composer Andrew Lloyd Webber. Hear a snippet in a behind-the-scenes video below.
‘Beautiful Ghosts’ is the only new song that was written for the movie. It was composed with the protagonist Victoria (played by Francesca Hayward) in mind. Known in the musical as the White Cat, the character in the original musical had no solo singing parts.
“When I first read the screenplay and it seems the film is seen through Victoria’s eyes, first thing I said was, ‘We have to have a song for Victoria,'” Lloyd Webber says in a video that explains the origins of ‘Beautiful Ghosts’. “It’s an incredibly important, central part of the whole film.”
‘Beautiful Ghosts’ will reportedly be sung twice in the film: Once by Hayward and in a brief reprise by Dame Judi Dench as Old Deuteronomy. Swift’s studio version will play over the end credits.
‘Beautiful Ghosts’ was mostly written “pretty much over an afternoon”, Lloyd Webber told Variety. Swift had visited Lloyd Webber during the movie’s filming with the intention of practising her performance of the song ‘Macavity the Mystery Cat’, which she sings as the supporting character Bombalurina.
But after Webber played on the piano the instrumental skeleton of another song he had written, Swift ended up improvising lyrics and topline vocal elements for what would become ‘Beautiful Ghosts’. Speaking to Variety, Lloyd Webber had nothing but praise for the pop star: “Taylor got to the essence of what the piece is about. It’s not an ordinary lyric.”
“What I couldn’t believe was the extraordinary beauty of these lyrics that Taylor had written,” Cats director Tom Hooper says in the short video. “It was as if someone had come into the film I was in the middle of making and read the script and met the actors and seen the world, and reflected back to me a profound understanding of what we’re trying to do with the movie. So, it was utterly thrilling.”
The video contains a snippet of Swift recording her version of ‘Beautiful Ghosts’ in the studio. “Perilous night / Their voices calling / A flicker of light / Before the dawning,” she sings. Watch the video below:
I was so excited when @OfficialALW asked me to write an original song with him for @catsmovie. “Beautiful Ghosts” is performed in the film by the extraordinary Francesca Hayward who plays “Victoria” & reprised by Dame Judi Dench (!!!!!) who plays “Old Deuteronomy” ? Coming soon! pic.twitter.com/97Hjk2nlfR
— Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) October 25, 2019
Elba, who plays the villainous cat Macavity, made headlines when he was asked on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert to hazard a description of the musical’s plot: “It’s a classic. It’s a big musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber. I guess it’s about a cat? How am I doing?”
In non-feline news, Swift recently performed an NPR ‘Tiny Desk Concert’, where she played acoustic versions of songs from her latest album, ‘Lover’.