Cats Is Back! Here’s the Definitive “Memory” YouTube Countdown
January 21st, 2016
by Josh Ferri
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s iconic musical Cats returns to Broadway on July 14, and the Neil Simon Theatre plays host to the Heaviside Layer.
In celebration of the first-ever Broadway revival, this self-professed Cats fan spent an eternity rummaging through YouTube (truly Gus the Theatre Cat was just a kitten when we started) to bring you our ranking of YouTube’s 20 best “Memory” performances. Contestants were graded on phrasing, emotional pain & of course the big “touch me” moment.
20. Chris Colfer on Glee
Ok, this was good and all, but the video really got me. Come on—all those old people. This is what “Memory” is all about.
19. Sarah Brightman
This Lloyd Webber muse didn’t do it for me. It’s stunning vocally but it’s not “Memory”.
18. Delta Goodrem
My gosh, this Australian star is stunning and her voice is so clear and strong. I’d love to hear more from her…like the whole big, belty “touch me” section.
17. Barbra Streisand
I’m betraying the gays (cue Mandy Gonzalez singing “my people” from In the Heights) for the early placement of Babs, but where’s the performance? Where’s the pain?
16. John Barrowman
This is so beautiful. Each lyric really pops. Not really heart-wrenching but beautiful.
15. Melissa Grohowski
It sucks that it's only audio but I stumbled upon it and just had to include. Fast-forward to 4:30 and you'll see.
14. Ria Villaver (St. Xavier High School)
I get it. She’s feeling it and making sure we feel it.
13. Celine Dion
Points for commitment. She’s done Vegas; now does she want to do Broadway? It’s really one song and out.
12. Susan Boyle
Susan Boyle gets it.
11. Linda Balgord
This current Phantom star slays it!
10. Clare McLaughlin (Barrington High School)
This girl is a teenager and that makes me feel like Grizabella. But you just wait for how great she is. Like wow.
9. Beverly Knight
The phrasing is fab and the way she slides from note to note is so enchanting. No wonder she headlined the most recent West End revival
8. Heather Headley
There’s only one Heather Headley and this is why. Though this is less about character work and more about insane, other-worldly singing.
7. Rachel Tucker Vs. Samantha Barks
What is more epic than an Elphaba Vs Eponine belt off of “Memory” while ALW sits mere feet away? Answer: nothing.
6. Stephanie J. Block
Sing Mama! Also love how she justified being on the ground to come up for the “touch me”. This Griz is going through it.
5. Nicole Scherzinger
The West End headliner makes the Cats anthem her own. So much yearning in her voice throughout, but that “touch me” is full-on pleading, begging. So wonderful.
4. Lea Salonga
The Allegiance star is ACTING the hell out of this. Her “I was beautiful then”…come on! This is pain. Bless her.
3. Elaine Paige
The original, original Griz. What’s so beautiful about hers is it’s like she’s watching a projection of the saddest movie you’ve ever seen but you can only see her reaction to seeing it.
2. Laurie Beechman
This is the only "Memory" I actually teared up during.
1. Betty Buckley
It’s hard to impartial to Betty Buckley (after having performed this version more times than there are names in the Bible). You have to love the faded glamour she brings to Grizabella the Glamour cat, in the way she moves. And we don't even go into that ending.
'Cats' begins previews at the Neil Simon Theatre on July 14.