How Anna Kendrick’s ‘Pitch Perfect’ Audition Led to the Viral Song ‘Cups’

  • “Cups”, sung by Anna Kendrick on “Pitch Perfect”, became a viral hit after its release.
  • The song was not originally in the film; it was added after Kendrick used it in auditioning for him.
  • For the 10th anniversary of “Pitch Perfect,” the filmmakers explain how the moment came to be.

Ten years after the release of the a cappella comedy “Pitch Perfect,” the film’s most iconic cultural moment remains “Cups.”

The song, performed by Anna Kendrick for her character Beca’s a cappella audition, exploded after the film’s premiere. The versions went viral online, and Kendrick eventually released a remix version, titled “Cups (‘When I’m Gone’ by Pitch Perfect)”, in April 2013. Three months later, the remix reached the Billboard Top 10. ; it currently has over 638 million views on YouTube.

“Cups” did not originate with the movie. As Vulture reported, the song “Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone?”, first recorded in 1928 by The Original Carter Family, was initially paired with the goblet rhythm routine in 2009, by the band Lulu and the Lampshades. After Kendrick found the routine online, he used it as his audition for the movie.

And so a viral moment and chart success was born.

Kendrick’s character was originally supposed to sing ‘I’m a Little Teapot’

In the film, Beca performs “Cups” during her audition for the Barden Bellas, the a cappella girl group at the fictional Barden College.

But “Cups” wasn’t originally part of the plan, screenwriter Kay Cannon told Insider.

In early drafts of the script, Beca was supposed to perform “I’m a Little Teapot,” an offbeat choice compared to other auditioners that would showcase her singing abilities, but one that “you could absolutely scoff at,” Cannon said. .

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Kendrick took a similar route in his own audition for “Pitch Perfect.” While other auditioners performed hits from the likes of Beyoncé and Lady Gaga, director Jason Moore said that when it came to singing, Kendrick simply pulled out a mug and started doing the routine he had learned from YouTube.

“It’s like in the movie, when everyone sees it for the first time and says, ‘What the hell is that?'” Moore said. “We were all a bit dumbfounded.”

When it came time to shoot the scene, Kendrick rehearsed the “I’m a Little Teapot” part, but Moore said it didn’t turn out the way they wanted. So they tried “Cups” instead.

“I think we were like, why aren’t we just using what she wowed us in this exact scenario?” she told Insider. “It’s so meta and perfect, let’s do it.”

Kendrick is happy that they did. When “Pitch Perfect 3” premiered in 2017, he told Jimmy Fallon that he had no idea how he would have sung “I’m a Little Teacup” in the original film.

“Thank God they changed that,” he said.

The sequence was filmed to highlight that Kendrick was really doing it.

When it came to replicating the emotion of Kendrick’s audition on screen, cinematographer Julio Macat told Insider that he wanted to highlight that she was “really doing this.”

He and Moore decided on a continuous take, putting together a sequence with very few cuts, primarily for Anna Camp’s Aubrey and Brittany Snow’s Chloe, to focus on the performance itself.

anna kendrick sitting cross-legged on a stage floor, a yellow glass in front of her.  a table and the head of another woman are barely visible in the foreground

The “Cups” sequence in “Pitch Perfect” is made up of several continuous takes.

universal images

Getting that shot was easier said than done. Due to the film’s low budget, the crew couldn’t afford the kind of equipment they would normally use to get the shot. Macat said steadicam operator Chris McGuire had to ride on a dolly, a wheeled cart that’s usually mounted on rails, and crawl on an extension arm, a piece of mounting equipment that extends a camera’s reach.

“Usually you just get a good telescopic crane, and that’s it,” Macat said, referring to a piece of film equipment that extends a remotely operated camera out. “But since we couldn’t afford it, he was the one who caught up with her and then came over to her.”

Already popular online, the song became a sensation after the film’s release.

The viral popularity of “Cups” predates “Pitch Perfect”: In 2011, covers abounded online after Anna Burden covered Lulu and Lampshades’ version, HuffPost reported.

After “Pitch Perfect”, however, “Cups” exploded. As Google Trends data shows, searches for the term “cup song” began to rise in January 2013. They peaked in August of that year, after Kendrick’s recording of the song hit the charts. from Billboard.

Cannon, the film’s screenwriter, told Insider that people were sending him all sorts of videos featuring the song, including a memorable one of schoolchildren in Dublin, Ireland “singing ‘Cups’ at the top of their lungs” on the streets of the city. .

Moore, on the other hand, received some criticism from friends whose children had seen the film.

“I had a lot of friends of mine that I went to high school with who were like, ‘Fuck you, my son is trying to learn the cup song. No one sleeps, I can’t do it, it takes a lot of practice,'” she told Insider. “I’m like, ‘Sorry!'”

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