Self-proclaimed cat lady Taylor Swift is flying high as her record-breaking Eras tour concert is about to be seen in households worldwide. But we’re looking back at one of our favorite Swiftie moments. No, not that time she was in the musical Cats, but it is related to felines and Friends!
Today, Swift’s ‘1989 (Taylor’s Version)’ album is breaking records for vinyl sales. And it was during her 1989 World Tour in Los Angeles at the Staples Center that she welcomed a special guest to the stage for a surprise purrformance.
“This singer, she’s only ever played in coffeehouses before,” explained Swift to the crowd on August 26, 2015. “She’s never played in a big venue like this, so please make her feel welcome.”
Phoebe Buffay Sings Smelly Cat with Taylor Swift
That’s when Swift revealed the surprise: The special guest was Lisa Kudrow, who played the beloved and eccentric Phoebe Buffay on Friends. Kudrow walked out on stage to the stunned and delighted fans, but then things really went nuts when she revealed what song she would play!
‘Smelly Cat,’ the bizarre comedy acoustic song, was a running gag and fan favorite for over ten years. So the crowd went wild as the unlikely duo sang, “Smelly Cat, Smelly Cat, what are they feeding you?”
Buffay even chided Swift to sing the song with more feeling, similar to how she had taught Chrissie Hynde from The Pretenders to sing the song at The Central Perk coffee shop on the show.
“You have to really feel the lyrics,” Buffay told Swift. “You’ll get it, you’ll get there.”
Video via Taylor Swift’s Tour Extras:
Smelly Cat with Chrissie Hynde
Here’s the moment when Phoebe Buffay appeared with Chrissie Hynde to sing Smelly Cat together. Ameowzingly, Hynde co-wrote the song with Kudrow and Friends show writers Adam Chase and Betsy Borns.
On Season 2, episode 6, Hynde appeared as performer Stephanie Schiffer, suddenly replacing Phoebe from her gig at The Central Perk. Later warming up to her rival, Phoebe sat down to teach Schiffer how to properly sing Smelly Cat, critiquing her performance:
“Better. Don’t feel bad because it’s a hard song.”
In 1999, The Pretenders and Kudrow recorded a longer version of the song for the Friends Again compilation album.
Video by The Pretenders Video Fan:
Smelly Cat Goes Gaga
On the 2021 Friends reunion, Kudrow was back at it, singing Smelly Cat with Lady Gaga! Kudrow appeared on The Ellen Show to discuss the reunion show and explained she was a bit rusty with the song.
It had been so long she had forgotten the chords and was in a panic. But fortunately, everything worked out fine thanks to Google, of all things!
“I tuned my guitar and realized, ‘I don’t know the chords!'” she told Ellen. “But I googled it. All the chords were there. So, thank you, world for posting the chords, so I learned it and then my throat closed,” she laughed.
Despite a case of the nerves, Kudrow performed purrfectly. As she started singing on the set of the Central Perk, Lady Gaga appeared at the door, red guitar in hand. Her Bohemian outfit and hair looked distinctively Phoebe Buffay in style.
“You need some help?” Gaga asked before joining Kudrow on the couch. “I love ‘Smelly Cat!’ It’s one of my favorite songs. You mind if I take Smelly Cat’ for a spin?:
“Yeah, that’d be great,” said Kudrow.
The Moment That Touched Lisa Kudrow
After belting out the song, a choir joined them for a surprisingly stirring rendition of the silly song classic. After the performance, Kudrow, as Phoebe, muttered, “I still think it’s better when it’s just me.”
“It is,” agreed Lady Gaga, thanking Kudrow for ‘being the person for all of us on Friends that was the — I don’t know if this is the right way to say it — but the different one, or the one that was really herself.”
The touching moment almost made Kudrow cry, she told Ellen.
Video by Access Holywood showing Lady Gaga performing Smelly Cat with Lisa Kudrow: