Pitch Perfect is a comedy that everyone can enjoy. The movie did well in ratings, seriously boosted some music/acting careers, and came out with some awesome music. It’s mainly the tale of a female a cappella group who transform from outdated music and step-touch choreo to top 40 beat and bass-dropping superstars. However…that’s not really how the whole book works out.
Oh. You didn’t know that it was a book? Awkward.
The movie’s plot is loosely based off this book by Mickey Rapkin, currently senior editor at GQ.
The book follows three well-known groups for “a season of a cappella” (lulz, we have seasons now): Tufts University Beelzebubs (the “traditional” group: well-established, well-funded, grounded in history), University of Oregon’s Divisi (“THE GIRL GROUP”…don’t make me go off on this), and University of Virginia’s Hullabahoos (the “goofy” guy group who walk that thin line between hilarious and cocky).
But who are these groups REALLY? Well, maybe you saw the Bubs on Season 1 of NBC’s The Sing-Off. They were fan-favorites from the beginning, rousing the audience with their first performance of Magical Mystery Tour, a medley of Beatles’ songs. However, this might be more up Pitch Perfect‘s alley:
Yes yes, this is the song the Treblemakers sing in the movie. It’s weird seeing it so very live, right? The Bubs did very well on The Sing-Off, coming in as the first season’s runner-ups. The Bubs have gone on to do more things in a cappella, like singing on some TV show called Glee, churning out tons of great albums, setting standards for good a cappella, etc. etc. moving on.
Like Mama Rose says, “You gotta have a gimmick.” The Hullabahoos of UVA are known not only for being a very talented group of gents, but they also don bathrobes at their performances. For those with a keen eye, you can actually see the Hullabahoos (yes, the REAL MEMBERS) in the movie, right at the beginning of the ICCA Finals. In fact, they sing this song:
It’s a very popular song with guy groups, but the Hoos certainly do pull it off nicely. Obviously a super cool moment in their history. Not many groups can say that they flew down to Baton Rouge and shot scene in a movie together, right?
Finally, you have the Barden Bellas who are based off of the lovely ladies of University of Oregon Divisi. The book actually opens up the way that the movie does, following Divisi as they meet disappointment at ICCAs time after time. (It’s worthwhile to point out that there is no sign of projectile vomit. I know you were waiting for that reassurance.)
Although it wasn’t quite as iconic as the mash-up medley at the end of the movie, Divisi’s rendition of Usher’s Yeah! was a huge turning point for female a cappella groups everywhere. It proved that we could get down with the dudes and kill it. It showed that we didn’t always have to be “classy and sassy” (URGH); that, like guy groups, we were versatile. Men can be both goofy and serious, and you know what? Ladies can, too. Check it:
This was really a very quick overview, and there’s quite a lot that I didn’t cover. I didn’t tell you about how ICCAs began. I didn’t tell you about how these groups travel for gigs, record albums, or how they deal with ingoing/outgoing members. There’s so much to learn about a cappella, and Pitch Perfect (the book) isn’t a terrible place to start.
Take a second, visit your local library, and give it a read! It’ll be good research as you go back to your respective colleges with your fiery ambitions and acadreams for the school year.
Always, always be learning. Nobody likes a basic pitch.
NOTE: Nodes will not give you bass notes, only excruciating pain and lifelong sorrow. You should actually seriously learn this because vocal health is important. Warm-ups, proper hydration, and proper breath support every time.
[Editor’s note/shameless plug: You can also read more about the differences between the book and movie in an article I did for CASA last fall which you can find here]