This Clip of Jennifer Hudson as Aretha Franklin Is Thankfully Better Than ‘Cats’

Hudson’s rendition of “Respect” in the trailer for the upcoming biopic of the same name is seriously stunning.
Queens, US
December 20, 2019, 4:44pm
Screenshot of Respect trailer

Soul singers with voices that stop you in your tracks are hard to come by. So when it was announced last January that Jennifer Hudson would star in Respect, an Aretha Franklin biopic, it seemed like a match for the powerhouse vocalist. In August, Franklin died of pancreatic cancer, but with Respect still in the works, fans were anxious to see how Hudson—whose vocal prowess has been documented since her humble American Idol beginnings to her award-winning performance as Effie in Dreamgirls—would translate as the Detroit legend.

In the meantime, Hudson has been in a full media frenzy for Cats, another film she's starring in alongside Idris Elba and Taylor Swift, and by the looks of early reviews, it's as terrifying as the Us mashup floating around the internet. The new trailer for Respect is finally here, and at only 44 seconds long, we don't have much to go off, but we can already speculate that it's better than Cats, which the London Evening Standard considers "nearly as obscene as The Human Centipede."

The best of that incredibly creepy trailer was a sneak peek at Hudson's rendition of "Memory." In a recent interview with Newsweek, the former Idol singer reveals that being able to reinvent the song was what made joining Cats as Grizabella worthwhile. "Of course it's such an iconic song, I wanted to honor the original while also bringing my own touch to it," she said revealing she got emotional during rehearsals.

But back to Respect. Watch the (very brief) teaser trailer below:

The barely-there trailer only teases out a bit of the first verse and chorus of Franklin's iconic song, but Hudson does a phenomenal job of filling out the song as Franklin did without sounding like a carbon copy. It's almost as if her performance of "And I Am Telling You" in Dreamgirls has prepared her for this very moment.

With two already stellar performance pieces on her resume, it makes you wonder: Did Hudson really need to join Cats? Did anyone need to join Cats, for that matter? Some things are better left on the theater stages of 1981.

Kristin Corry is a staff writer.