Lately there seems to be no shortage of TV shows that churn out covers of well-loved songs, from Glee to Smash to American Idol to the recently canceled The Sing-Off. Soon joining that group is the movie Pitch Perfect, which rolls into theaters next week.
Pitch Perfect presents an edgier-than-Glee, college-set story of a cappella competition, starring Anna Kendrick as Beca, a freshman at fictional Barden University. After reluctantly joining the school’s all-girls a cappella group, the Bellas, Beca spices up the group’s decidedly old school repertoire with some remixes and mash-ups.
The Bellas’ shift from square to hip — plus the music supplied by fellow a cappella groups, including Barden’s all-boys group, the Treblemakers — gave music supervisors Julianne Jordan and Julia Michels the chance to pack a variety of songs into the film, from The Bangles’ “Eternal Flame” to Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the U.S.A.”
A cappella music was new territory for Jordan and Michels, but they hired some experts very familiar with that world to arrange the film’s music. Among the talents who took instrument-backed pop hits and transformed them into vocals-only arrangements for Pitch Perfect were Ed Boyer, who arranged the music for Glee’s Warblers, and Deke Sharon, considered the father of contemporary a cappella. Both are alums of the popular Tufts University group, the Beelzebubs.
Here EW debuts a song from Pitch Perfect‘s soundtrack, a mash-up of Bruno Mars’ “Just The Way You Are” and Nelly’s “Just A Dream.”
The song is performed by Kendrick and the Bellas, arranged by Ali Dee Theodore (whose writing credits include songs by Mary J. Blige and Shakira) and Broadway musical writer Tom Kitt.
Check it out below:
The song is on the film’s official soundtrack, which will be available for digital download on Sept. 25. Physical CDs will be released by Universal Music Enterprises on Oct. 2.
Jordan and Michels told EW that they had tried to fit Mars’ “Just The Way You Are” into several spots in the film before they found it meshed well with Nelly’s R&B song. Then the track became known as “Pool Mashup” — the Bellas sing it in an empty pool on campus after a riff-off competition against the Treblemakers.
“For the emotion of that scene, it kind of gives you goose bumps, that combination of songs,” Jordan said. “The melody lends itself really well to a cappella.”
The prior scene’s riff-off was “a massive puzzle to put together,” Michels said. The Bellas and the Treblemakers go head-to-head to out-sing each other in various categories, like Ladies of the ’80s. So when you see Pitch Perfect, be prepared for a battle that features “Mickey,” topped by “Like a Virgin,” followed up with “Hit Me With Your Best Shot.”
The riff-off also includes a song that the two music supervisors were confident “Glee would never touch”: Blackstreet and Dr. Dre’s “No Diggity.” (It wasn’t easy, Jordan said, to find and secure rights to songs that “hadn’t been used a million times” in Glee and musical movies.) You can hear a bit of the Bellas’ rendition of the hip-hop song in the movie’s trailer.
As for the song Jordan and Michels are most pleased made the final cut of the movie, Jackson 5’s “Blame It On The Boogie” takes that prize. This marks the first time the 1978 song has been used in a film. It makes a brief appearance when an a cappella group from another school sings it in competition. “We’re just really happy that song got in there because we think it’s just so upbeat and so great,” Michels said.
Though if Jordan and Michels got their way, audiences seeing Pitch Perfect would be hearing a lot more of the disco song. “We wanted it to be in every spot in the film,” Jordan joked. “Ongoing Jackson 5!”
Pitch Perfect hits select theaters on Friday, Sept. 28 and then opens for a wide release a week later, on Oct. 5. The movie also stars Rebel Wilson, Elizabeth Banks, and Brittany Snow.