Pitch Perfect’s ‘Cups’: How a Traditional Folk Song Went Top 10

The Cup Game is easy enough. You need a plastic cup, rhythm and a little bit of patience to play. After learning the order in which you drum on the cup, move it and toss it over your forearm before resuming the procedure again, you increase your pace, going faster and faster until the plastic object goes flying.

It’s a game that’s been around for years, played across summer camps and, slightly more famously, on PBS’s long-running educational TV series Zoom, which showcased the Cup Game as a multi-person test of intense rhythmic concentration.

Many years later, the game is reaching new audiences yet again, all thanks to a chance, one-minute inclusion in a film about a cappella singing groups.

Pitch Perfect, a musical comedy by Universal Pictures released in September 2012, follows the Barden Bellas, an all-girl a cappella group, as the team competes against a fellow group from Barden University to win the Nationals competition. Along the way, the group gets help from an unlikely source — Beca Mitchell, played by Anna Kendrick, an aspiring DJ with a penchant for creating mash-ups of popular songs who decides to join the club.

Mitchell’s audition for the Bellas is a rendition of the song “When I’m Gone,” performed to the rhythm of the Cup Game. It not only gains Mitchell admission into the club; it also became the film’s rallying cry, spawning a number of YouTube covers and how-tos.

Then, radio noticed.

Read more at Radio.com


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