I have been looking forward to Pitch Perfect since the trailer came out in early June. A girl who calls herself Fat Amy and rival collegiate singing groups? What’s not to love?
The movie centers around two a capella groups at Barden University, the Barden Bellas and the Treblemakers, but the main character Beca (Anna Kendrick) doesn’t want to get involved with the rivalry. There has been a lot of hype around this movie created with the help of an a capella version of Nicki Minaj’s “Starships” where the fans participated and the pre-released riff off scene. These videos certainly piqued my interest in the soundtrack, which was released on Septmeber 25. So, I gave it a listen.
There are a lot of great a capella medleys and the arrangements sound really cool. Unfortunately though, some of the songs fall flat. “Let It Whip” and “Bellas Regionals” are two tracks that will hopefully fit into the movie better than they fit into the soundtrack. They sound too much like actors singing in a movie about a capella than actual a capella songs. However, tracks like “Since U Been Gone,” “Right Round,” and “Please Don’t Stop The Music” are upbeat and great to get people dancing.
More stripped down songs like the “Pool Mashup,” “Party In The U.S.A.” and “Cups” offer a better platform to really showcase the casts’ voices, which they definitely have.
I was surprised to learn that Adam DeVine could actually sing since he’s mostly known for his absurd and arrogant stoner character, Adam Demamp, from Workaholics. But I was pleasantly surprised to find out that not only can he sing well, he even brought a bit of his—in Adam’s own words—douche-y character, Bumper’s, personality to the songs. He does this especially well in the first track, “Please Don’t Stop The Music.”
Anna Kendrick also sounds fantastic on this soundtrack. Her solo song “Cups” is stripped down with one lone beat boxer in the background. The song is hauntingly beautiful and sounds almost out of place on the soundtrack, but that goes along with her character, Beca, who is dragged, rather than choosing to volunteer, to audition for the Barden Bellas. I’m really excited to see how her character deals with the situation and how this song plays into the movie.
Even though the Bellas are supposed to be the group you root for, while listening to the soundtrack I found myself liking the Treblemakers’ songs more. The “Bellas Regionals” track sounds very tired and almost boring, which is also how Beca reacts to it in the trailer. If that’s what the producers were going for, they succeeded. The “Bellas Finals” medley isn’t very tight and it seems to be all over the place, which will probably make sense because each section will showcase a different and unique character that the audience will have spent the past hour and a half getting to know. So in the context it might work. These songs might sound good in the movie, but not on their own.
To be fair, though, the Treblemakers have a hidden weapon: Skylar Astin. In the early trailers I hardly noticed him and didn’t understand how his character fit into this whole world, but then I saw the riff off scene. I knew they had cast the right person when I was actually disappointed that Beca cut off his character, Jesse’s, version of “Feels Like the First Time” to bust out her amazing rap skills that led to “No Diggity.” It make me curious of Astin and after a Google search, I found that he had originated the role of Georg in Spring Akwakening. Astin is spectacular in all of his songs on this soundtrack, especially the “Treblemaker’s Finals” medley. I’m really excited to see him in the movie.
Getting back to the “Riff Off” track, however. I was really disappointed by the soundtrack version. I admit that I watched the scene on YouTube a lot, so maybe my expectations were a little high. I did wonder how they would transfer Kendrick’s solo rap, which is full of uncertainty as to whether her group will back her up, to the soundtrack. Unfortunately, it does not live up to my expectations. The soundtrack version fades from Astin’s “Feels Like the First Time” into a fully arranged version of “No Diggity.” It doesn’t stay true to the feel of the rest of the song—the biting sharpness of the transitions between each different song as you can tell, even without the video, that these groups are battling. It sounds like there was a production error and “No Diggity” was accidentally added to the “Riff Off” track.
Don’t get me wrong, I do really like the “Riff Off,” it’s one of my favorites on the soundtrack. I just would have preferred the starkness of the single voice rap version of “No Diggity” that builds into something more from the movie. Also, since I’m talking about things I wanted from the soundtrack: a full song version of “Feels Like the First Time.”
All in all, I really liked this soundtrack. Sure some songs don’t work well to me, but I really love some of the other tracks. The soundtrack made me more excited for the movie, which is what it was supposed to do. And anyway, maybe I’ll feel differently about some of the songs after I’ve seen the movie.
What are your thoughts on the soundtrack? Or the riff off scene? Do you think Pitch Perfect will live up to all the buzz it’s generated?