“Smelly Cat” is undoubtedly one of the most iconic musical moments of modern classic sitcom “Friends” and now, thanks to the HBO Max reunion special, the ditty has been updated for a whole new generation of fans.
Kudrow first sang “Smelly Cat” on the second season of “Friends,” in an episode entitled “The One With the Baby on the Bus.” The actor sat down on the recreated coffeehouse set to strum the tune almost 26 years since that first performance during “Friends: The Reunion.” She noted she should “be Phoebe for this” and sang the first verse alone. But, a simple trip down memory lane got a boost of star power when Gaga popped into Central Perk, guitar in hand, and joined Kudrow in the rendition of the song.
“I love ‘Smelly Cat,’ it’s one of my favorite songs,” Gaga said.
Midway through the song, Kudrow told Gaga, “That was not bad.” The singer also made a nod to her Ally character in “A Star Is Born” by drawing her finger down her nose. They were also joined by a backing gospel choir to finish the number. After the performance, still in character as Phoebe, Kudrow mumbled, “I still think it’s better when it’s just me.” Gaga agreed, at which Kudrow laughed and replied, “You heard it!”
Gaga also took a moment to thank Kudrow for “being the person for all of us on ‘Friends’ that was the different one, or the one that was really herself.”
“Smelly Cat” was a running gag on “Friends” and was featured as such subsequent episode plots as Phoebe recording a professional version of the song and Phoebe’s ex-singing partner (E.G. Daily) selling it as a jingle for cat litter. The song was written by “Friends” writers Adam Chase and Betsy Borns, as well as Kudrow and musician Chrissie Hynde. Hynde appeared in “Smelly Cat’s” debut episode as Stephanie, a professional musician who is hired to sing at Central Perk and ends up sitting on the orange couch and dueting with Phoebe, not unlike how Kudrow and Gaga took on the number in “Friends: The Reunion.”
“Smelly Cat” was also performed by Kudrow with Taylor Swift in 2015 when the super fan brought Kudrow on stage during a concert at the Staples Center in Los Angeles to sing. Midway through the song, Kudrow told Swift, “I’m sorry. That was good, but you have to really feel the lyrics.”
Aside from Gaga’s appearance, BTS honor the series with a brief video message. RM, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V and Jungkook appear, “My mom bought me the DVDs of the whole series when I was in elementary school. “Friends” really had a big hand in teaching me English and the show really taught me the things about life and true friendship,” RM says. The other members shout, “We love ‘Friends.’”
“Friends: The Reunion” is streaming on HBO Max.