The Impact of Anna Kendrick’s Iconic ‘Cups’ Song from ‘Pitch Perfect’
Actress Anna Kendrick has had several memorable roles in her career, but her cup-tapping skills in the Pitch Perfect trilogy became one of her most iconic performances.
The movie follows Kendrick’s character Beca Mitchell, a college student who dreams of becoming a music producer in Los Angeles.
In the first movie, released in 2012, Beca auditions to join an all-female a cappella group by singing ‘When I’m Gone’ with no background music and rhythmically hitting cups on the floor.
Becca’s performance is a hit, and she passes the audition. Interestingly, the concept was entirely Kendrick’s idea, although she was inspired by a video she had seen of a group who had performed an a capella with cups a long time ago.
Kendrick had learned the cup routine for fun but never expected to use it in a movie.
Producers were so impressed with Kendrick’s ‘Cups (When I'm Gone)’ performance that they replaced it in the film with what they had initially planned for Beca’s audition, which was ‘I’m a Little Teacup.’ During an appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, she recounted the moment.
I don’t know how I was supposed to play [‘I’m a Little Teacup’], so thank God they changed that. I would’ve been like, ‘I don’t know how to make this scene work, guys.
‘Cups’ Became Viral
It was a good decision made by the producers, as the song played a huge part in the film's legacy. According to Variety, the movie grossed $115 million worldwide on a $17 million budget and became one of the top movies streamed on-demand in 2013.
What’s even more surprising is that the ‘Cups’ soundtrack went triple platinum after selling over 1 million copies.
The song apparently has a long history and the original version was called 'Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone?' It was recorded in 1928 by the first-generation Carter family.
After that, a group called J. E. Mainer’s Mountaineers reworked the song, and in 2009, a British band named Lulu and the Lampshades made a video of the mashup of ‘When I’m Gone,’ now known as the ‘Cups’ song.
Later, Anna Burden saw the video and made it her own, which became viral, and got the attention of Kendrick. Kendrick used it in the movie, and an extended, radio-friendly version was released, which most people are familiar with today.
Kendrick Apologizes for the Impact of ‘Cups’
The charming a cappella beats naturally became popular with its young audience, but this overzealousness was a nightmare for camp counselors everywhere.
I am so, so sorry. https://t.co/6408ZhOtPv — Anna Kendrick (@AnnaKendrick47) March 4, 2021
Earlier this year, Ellory Smith, the writer of Robot Chicken, tweeted about Pitch Perfect’s impact on the summer camp she once worked at.
Smith’s tweet, which has been deleted, revealed that the song was so popular among kids that they had to ban empty cups.
Her tweet inspired other camp counselors who looked back at the past 10 years with a mix of nostalgia and fear to share their own horrible experiences. One ex-camp counselor replied to Smith’s tweet, saying she was legitimately scared that “a bunch of off key screaming voices” would follow her.
When Kendrick caught wind of the tweet, she issued a hilarious apology to Ellory over social media. Smith wrote back, saying she forgave the actress.