‘Cats’: How Jennifer Hudson’s ‘Memory’ Compares to Broadway’s Best (Video)

Oscar-winner performed “Memory” on the finale of “The Voice,” but does it stack up against the greats?

Jennifer Hudson Memory Cats The Voice Finale
Photo credit: NBC

Jennifer Hudson performed “Memory” from the upcoming “Cats” film on the finale of “The Voice” Tuesday night, but how does her version compare to Broadway’s best?

No one can question Hudson’s power — she won an Oscar in part to her rousing rendition of “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” from 2006’s “Dreamgirls.”

The version she performed on Tuesday is abridged, so we’ll have to wait until Dec. 20 to compare it to the big-screen version.

Here are the Top 10 performances of “Memory” from “Cats”:

10. Susan Boyle

Viral sensation Susan Boyle returned to the show that made her famous — “Britain’s Got Talent” — to perform once again. She rushes through the phrasing of the climax and drops a few notes, but this isn’t bad for a reality TV contestant.

9. Leona Lewis

Like Boyle, Leona Lewis rose to fame on a British reality TV competition — winning “The X-Factor” in 2006. She’s a bit shaky at the start and her vocal power is noticeably a notch below those ahead of her on this list, but this is still a beautiful performance. She definitely lives up to Grizabella’s “Glamour Cat” moniker.

8. Nicole Scherzinger

The third reality TV show contestant on our list (she appeared on the WB series “Popstars” before becoming prancing around as a Pussycat Doll), Nicole Scherzinger may surprise you with her sensitive rendition. It’s by no means flawless, but her commitment is admirable.

7. Celine Dion

The pop superstar recorded this version in 1987 when she was still a teenager. Celine reportedly didn’t even know English at the time, which makes this performance even more remarkable. It’s a little heavy on the hysterics and full of riffs, but that’s signature Celine.

6. Lea Salonga

Salonga, who is best known for her roles in “Miss Saigon,” “Les Miserables,” and the singing voice of Mulan in the Disney animated film, may seem too sweet for this song. But she’s a vocal powerhouse and technically nearly pitch-perfect.

5. Mamie Parris

What’s most impressive about this performance — aside from the great vocal and acting — is that Parris performed this during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade outside in cold temperatures.

4. Jennifer Hudson

The “American Idol”-alum turned Oscar-winner has unquestionable power and richness. She plays with the phrasing to draw out the emotion in each note.


3. Heather Headley

Headley, who won the Best Actress Tony in 2000 for her performance in “Aida,” shows incredible range, from the smokey low notes to the control in the climax.

2. Elaine Paige

Many “Cats” purists debate who is the best among the Top 2. Paige delivers a riveting performance, filled with emotion and vulnerability. Pay close attention to her eyes. Another fun fact, Susan Boyle said Paige was her musical inspiration.


1. Betty Buckley

This is not only the best performance of “Memory,” it’s one of the best performances at the Tony Awards ever. You might want to turn your volume down because you’ll be blown away by her power. Her Grizabella is almost regal.