'Pitch Perfect 2': The Aca-Amazing Story Behind the Sequel's Buzziest Music Moments
Quick question: How do you possibly top the musical highs of the girl-power-charged 2012 surprise hit Pitch Perfect?
"I was obviously very nervous to write a sequel," screenwriter Kay Cannon, who also penned the original, told Billboard. "I didn't want to ruin all the goodwill from the fans who loved the first one. So I approached it [by thinking], 'What do I think the fans would want to see?'"
From there, Cannon was able to zero in on the "getting too big for their briches" Barden Bellas. "I thought, 'Okay, how can I publicly disgrace them? How can they be the underdogs again?' It was sort of remembering Janet Jackson at the Super Bowl and what that did to her at the time, [and then] I went and looked up when President Obama's birthday was and it's in August! So I was like, 'Oh, this is great! The Bellas can perform for the president....and then Fat Amy can expose her vagina to the president!' [Laughs.] And once I had that, I was like, 'Okay, now they are underdogs again!'"
Tackling the project that way is good news for viewers who've been practicing their very own "Cups" routine for the past few years and have been eagerly anticipating checking in with some of their favorite fictional gal pals. It means that the sequel has bigger musical numbers, plenty of Fat Amy (original breakout Rebel Wilson), surprise A-list cameos, and even a riff-off that manages to surpass the first one via four delightful words: I Dated John Mayer.
Just how did the Pitch Perfect team manage to balance Snoop Dogg, original songs, and a riff-off medley that combined over 15 tunes? We're breaking down all the aca-amazing moments from the film below. (Spoilers for the sequel follow!)
"Story-wise it was taking a chance, definitely, because the first one was all cover songs that everybody knew," co-music supervisor Julianne Jordan explained. "But when we got 'Flashlight,' we just knew. [Director] Elizabeth [Banks] could see exactly how that song was going to work every time it was used."
And while everyone involved hopes the original song takes off on the charts a la "Cups" after the film's release, they're proud that it also works as an organic part of the story, not a last-minute add-on.
"To be honest, I think we were all really trying to capture the new 'Cups,' and we understood that is a really tall order and we won't do that per se, but this is something new to the audience; [an] original song sort of became the most organic way of giving the audience something new," Cannon said. "It's like the song from the movie That Thing You Do where you hear the song in different variations before you're hearing it at the finals, because I and the producers wanted the audience to catch on to what the song sounded like and hopefully connect to it by the time you hear it in the finals."
In the sequel, the Barden Bellas meet up with several other a cappella groups to face off in a secret competition moderated by David Cross. The complex, sure-to-be-a-fan-favorite scene required plenty of mash-ups, and that in turn meant quite the balancing act for the music supervisors.
"We go through the script and specifically for the riff-off it's a huge puzzle to figure out," Jordan explained. "We have a great arranger on this project [Tom Kitt] who actually did the riff-off specifically for the first movie and we had him come back and do the second movie. He had to figure out tempo-wise which songs were going to work together and we would have a list of songs we knew we could clear in a certain price range and then he would take those and figure out the songs to use and would suggest the categories."
The categories are a particular treat -- "I Dated John Mayer," "Songs About Butts" -- and the opening notes of each new medley inclusions are sure to provoke delighted gasps from audience members recognizing an old favorite -- or a Green Bay Packer.
Hold up. What are the Green Bay Packers Doing Here?
When thinking about wish-list moments that might appear in the sequel, "Green Bay Packers Players Perform Destiny's Child's Hit "Bootylicious" surely wasn't at the top of anyone's list. But once fans see the goofy moment from the athletes-turned-superfans, they'll likely hope for more of the same.
"Can I just tell you I was on set with [Green Bay Packers players T.J. Lang, David Bakhtiari, and Clay Matthews, among others] and in the recording studio with them and they were so fun," co-music supervisor Julia Michels explains about the public fanboys of the first film. "They were just total fans. They brought it. They have one of the funniest scenes and they had a ball and I think Elizabeth [Banks] had a great time shooting it as well."
An added bonus: "I think the Green Bay Packers has allowed for manly men to come out and say they liked the movie," Cannon shared. "Or that they're excited to watch the sequel. I like it when adult straight men are big fans of Pitch Perfect!"
Snoop Dogg's Christmas Hit
One such man who is now firmly in Pitch Perfect's camp? Snoop Dogg. A most delightful surprise from the sequel is an out-of-nowhere appearance from the rapper. Thank Pitch Perfect fans in his family for the Dogg's agreement to participate in the goofy cameo that finds him recording a Christmas album with help from Anna Kendrick's Beca.
"He just made that rap up!" Michels explained about Snoop rapping lyrics such as "This ain't for no mistletoe, but you need to listen, yo/ I call this my Christmas flow" over classic Christmas carols. "He just free-flowed that in the studio. And it's brilliant and we feel like he was so lucky to have nailed that cameo....We hope we have another Christmas classic on our hands!"
Safe to say they crushed it.