In Pursuit of Pitch Perfect Cups

I think I’ve mentioned in prior articles about my soft spot for teeny-bopper movies. It all started in the 80s and 90s, and continued well into the new century. Luckily, for my sanity, very few good ones have emerged since Ten Things I Hate About You. Most were clearly out of my age-range, both in wit and wonderment.

Then came Pitch Perfect.

I first heard about it from its trailers. It looked like yet another Glee knock-off by way of Step Up with the plot of Bring It On. However, something interesting caught my eye. A rather rotund Australian woman was taking center stage in many of the scenes - one Rebel Wilson. She was a riot, and that alone gave me pause. Was it enough to make me see it?

Oh no. Not solo. Not I, a man in his mid-30s.

Several months went by, the movie came and went from theaters, and life returned to relative abnormalcy. I went to work, I wrote, I drank tea; rinse, repeat. While at work, several co-subordinates blasted the local pop station amidst chores. One song stood out from the inanity. I didn’t know the name of it, but it sounded vaguely…folksy? What was this doing on the radio, and why was it talking about bottles of whiskey?

I learned later that the song was called “Cups (When I’m Gone)“, and that it was a redux of another song from the movie…Pitch Perfect!? The artist was actress Anna Kendrick.  I’d never known her by name - save for the informal title of “Scott Pilgrim’s Up in the Air Twilight Sister”.  At one point, I even declared my love for her. I think it was after 50/50. Never knew she could sing on top of…uh…acting all cute. All the time!

The song itself had the most varied of histories. It was first given life by one A.P. Carter of The Carter Family. The Almighty Wiki claims it was written in 1931, while others say it was first performed as early as 1928. Point being: It’s really freakin’ old. That and the rhythm was much slower.

Somehow/someway, it was picked up by a group dubbed Lulu and the Lampshades in 2009 and renamed “You’re Gonna Miss Me“. They’re the ones who added the titular “cup game” rhythm, on top of adding an extra verse. The video went viral.

Fast-forward to two years later, and YouTube vlogger/entertainer Anna Burden recorded her own cover of the song, which also went viral. During filming of Pitch Perfect, Anna Kendrick caught wind of this version. I’m not sure how she convinced the producers of the film to incorporate this song into the movie, but it was there as her character’s “audition” scene. And for some unknown reason, that went viral.

The attention paid to that half-minute try-out led Anna Kendrick to re-record a new version of the song - now called “Cups (When I’m Gone)” - five months after Pitch Perfect came out in theaters. The song went superviral. Yes, that’s a thing now. Because I said so. It was released in February of 2013, and it’s still being played. (It is currently November.)

Kendrick and “Krew” filmed a new video for the re-release in March of ‘13. I didn’t catch it until well into the summer. At first, I thought the video was a part of the movie. Small town girl working a dead-end job, escapes to the big city for a career in music; sounded Hollywood enough to me. I learned later that the music video had nothing to do with the movie, even though it was filmed by Pitch Perfect’s director, Jason Moore.

With a song that had a backstory such as that, now I had to track the movie down. I tried for two months to track it down via Redbox, but it was always out of order. As a result of this repeated failure, I finally broke down and re-signed up for Netflix’s DVD service. Yes, my reason for signing up for DVD rentals…was a teen music movie.

I finally got it. I finally saw it. Twice that day. In a row.

Not a day goes by without me playing one or two musical excerpts from the movie. Was it deep, masterpiece cinema? Not by a longshot. I was right in my original guess. It was Bring It On, only with a capella. And I loved every voiceboxing minute of it.

Well worth the several months and serendipitous history lesson it took to get there.

Wow, I went that whole article without making one boob joke. The title almost demands it. I should compensate somehow. Ummm…oh yeah!

There we go.

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Wednesday, November 20th, 2013 Musings, Reviews

5 Comments to In Pursuit of Pitch Perfect Cups

  1. LOVE this movie. I hope the 2nd one is at least as good.

  2. Leah on November 20th, 2013
  3. I do, too. However, I don’t see how they can “lightning-in-a-bottle” it as well as the first.

  4. Geoffrey F. Norman on November 21st, 2013
  5. I also just watched Pitch Perfect a few days ago when it came up in my Netflix queue. I tried vainly not to be charmed by Anna Kendrick and the movie, but I admit I totally was.

  6. Pech on November 21st, 2013
  7. You were right. Soon after your FB odes to the movie I got it from the library and it was love at first sight. It definitely gave me that same “Mystic Pizza,” “Say Anything,” vibe which made the “Breakfast Club” references all the more appropriate.

  8. Katrina on November 21st, 2013
  9. @Pech - Sometimes all a movie needs is charm. Someone should tell that to the creators of “Glee”.

    @Katrina - It was! Totally a movie out of its time!

  10. Geoffrey F. Norman on November 22nd, 2013

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