Celebrity crossovers and joint performances are hardly a new occurrence. They’ve been happening for years, and especially at arena tours worldwide where audiences are surprised with a guest appearance and special song; sometimes even one-off occurrences such as this one between Taylor Swift and Friends star Lisa Kudrow.
At Los Angeles’ Staples Centre on August 26th, 2015, during Taylor Swift’s sold-out 1989 World Tour, audiences had no idea that they were about to be treated to a very rare, and also very random, performance. Lisa Kudrow – or Phoebe Buffay as she’s best known – reprises her role once more for a live acoustic rendition of the comedic Friends song “Smelly Cat”, which you can view in the video below:
Before Lisa Kudrow enters the stage, Taylor Swift hints about who her special guest is going to be. “This singer, she’s only ever played in coffee houses before”, she says. “She’s never played in a big venue like this, so we’ve got to please make her feel welcome.” When fans realize that it’s one of Friends’ biggest stars, they go wild; even more so when they hear that they’re going to hear an exclusive performance of “Smelly Cat”.
“Smelly Cat” quickly became a cult comedy song from the Friends TV show shortly after the episode The One With The Baby On The Bus was aired. So much so, that the song returned throughout multiple episodes featuring Phoebe, and formed a large part of her character’s personality. This running gag became a fan favourite amongst audiences, and is one of the most referred-to aspects of Friends to this day:
During their unexpected duet at the Los Angeles Staples Centre, Lisa Kudrow and Taylor Swift both share a guitar and begin the Smelly Cat song together. When it’s Taylor Swift’s turn to sing a verse solo, Kudrow promptly interrupts her and corrects her, mentioning that she has to ‘feel the lyrics’. After a little playful to-and-fro, the duo kicked the song off again, with the entire arena’s audience joining in for one last verse.
Taylor Swift’s 1989 World Tour was a global hit, with arenas sold out across the globe in celebration of her fifth studio album, 1989. The record is a large leap from her country’s origins and demonstrates her significant growth as an artist over the years. It also features some of her most successful songs to date, including the pop anthem “Blank Space”, which skyrocketed in the global charts nearly immediately after its release.
“Smelly Cat” has not just simply become a Friends-related cult comedy classic, but it has also been covered by a large number of artists. Chris Isaak, James Michael Tyler, and even co-star Courtney Cox (who plays Monica Geller) have given their respects to this peculiar song about a neglected cat with a terrible smell, and it doesn’t stop there. In 2021, the cast of Friends collaborated once more for a one-off Reunion Special, in which Lisa Kudrow performed “Smelly Cat” with the iconic American singer-songwriter Lady Gaga.