Sounds of the Film
A number of songs were reimagined by only using vocals during performance
sequences, from the vocal version of Universal Pictures' title theme to the ICCA
finals. The Bellas, who go from "traditional" to the 21st century, have a song
list that includes "The Sign" (Ace of Base), "Turn the Beat Around" (Gloria
Estefan), "S&M" (Rihanna), "No Diggity" (Blackstreet) and "Party in the U.S.A."
(Miley Cyrus), and mash-ups of "Just the Way You Are" (Bruno Mars) and "Just a
Dream" (Nelly), among others.
Reigning national champions The Treblemakers' repertoire of songs include "Don't
Stop the Music" (Rihanna), "Let It Whip" (The Dazz Band), "Mickey" (Toni Basil),
"Right Round" (Flo Rida), "Bright Lights Bigger City" (Cee Lo Green) and "Magic"
"When we were casting the movie, I knew that I wanted the actors to all do their
own singing," explains Moore. "The story is about everyone bringing their own
special voice, the way that they sound and the way they perform into the movie,
so I needed genuine performances. What's interesting about this genre is that
there are no drums and there's no piano to cover up the mistakes, so everybody
has to be able to carry the musical tune and do what it takes to make the
overall sound work."
In the early stages of building their crew as the filmmakers searched for music
arrangers, they kept coming across two names. With so many musical performances
and arrangements weaved throughout Pitch Perfect, the filmmakers chose music
arranger and music director ED BOYER, whose credits include FOX's Glee and NBC's
a cappella competition The Sing-Off, and music director DEKE SHARON, who also
worked on The Sing-Off, to join the team. "They are the godfathers of a
cappella," explains Banks. "They are also in the book 'Pitch Perfect.' Ed and
Deke sing on a lot of our tracks, and they're the most authentic people in the
Filming and song recording took place in Baton Rouge, and the filmmakers had the
added benefit of a recording studio on set. Says Banks: "The on-site recording
studio helped us manage everybody's time and allowed us to coach the actors
through everything. We needed to be able to change things on the fly, make edits
to songs or make complete song changes."
Boyer and Sharon's expertise in the world of a cappella was a huge asset. Says
Boyer, "Deke and I were the resident a cappella nerds." Sharon and Boyer's work
together dates back to 2001, when Boyer, who
was still in college, asked Sharon to come to his alma mater and produce his
However, arranging music sequences for a film would prove much more challenging
for the music directors. Explains Boyer: "Usually, the only rule of arranging is
to take a piece of music, match it to a group of singers and have it sound good.
What's new about this, for us, is that there's a movie plot in the mix. We have
to take into account what's occurring and which actors are being highlighted in
the scene. Musically, things get moved around to match what's happening with the
visuals and what's been happening with the plot."
Continues Sharon: "We helped cut down the songs to be the right length and then
taught that music to the musicians and the singers and then recorded the music.
We also went through the process of editing and mixing it to make sure that it
all worked for the movie itself."
Says Moore about having Deke and Sharon work on this film: "We were so lucky to
have them on the movie because the art of creating this kind of sound is so
specific. They helped us choose songs for the movie and made demos of the
arrangements so we knew that they would work in a cappella form. Each actor's
skill has to come out in creating a sound. One person was really good at
sounding like a guitar, another person was really good at beat-boxing, and we
started to use those skills and integrated them into the way that the music is
made. Having Ed and Deke on-site and working with the actors was crucial to
getting it to seem organic and real."
The soundtrack of the comedy includes a mix of contemporary and current music, a
few classics and different styles of popular music, a process that the music
directors found similar to putting together puzzle pieces. Finding the perfect
marriage between the song choice and the group style was an important primary
Says Sharon about choosing the music: "It was clear from the outset that we
wanted to have a number of songs that were very current, as well as some older
classic hits that parents who bring their kids to the movie (or someone who
doesn't listen to current pop radio) would enjoy. We have a little hip-hop woven
in, some rock and some pop. Some cheesy songs were important because, of course,
The Bellas historically haven't done current music; they're stuck in the '80s.
Finding the songs that worked from that period, and the guilty pleasures that
people like but don't respect, was important."
"Every time I heard a great song on the radio, I'd scribble it down," says
Brooks. "I probably did that for six weeks and drove everybody mad. What I
learned was that some songs that are great songs don't necessarily lend
themselves to the world of a cappella. At the end of the day, we had great music
supervisors, who did all the heavy lifting. I listened to them and said, 'That
seems really great; let's buy that.'"
For his feature film debut, Moore enlisted Broadway's TOM KITT to craft some of
the vocal arrangements of Pitch Perfect's show-stopping riff-
off, as well as the signature sound of The Bellas prior to their performance at
the end of the film. Kitt, who was formerly in an a cappella group, is a
composer, conductor, orchestrator and musician who received the Pulitzer Prize
for Drama for the Tony Award-winning Next to Normal, and also worked on American
Idiot and Broadway newcomer Bring It On: The Musical.
When Beca comes onto the scene, she utilizes her deejay skills to create
mash-ups and to layer songs for The Bellas to sing. Her goal? Take the group out
of its usual snoozy tunes and bring the girls into the 21st century. Executive
music producers Julianne Jordan and Julia Michels worked with Sharon and Boyer
on music choices, and they commissioned music producers L.A. Outfit to create
the mash-ups. "The mash-ups were some of the first things we picked songs for
and some of the last ones that were finalized," explains Sharon. "Sometimes we'd
have the arrangements exactly how we wanted them creatively, but if a song
didn't clear, we would have to adjust the arrangement. There were constant
moving parts, and the mash-ups ended up coming together as the last piece of the
puzzle. Any time you change one of the songs in the mash-up, then the whole rest
of the movie changed as well."
All the music for the on-camera performances had to be cleared before the movie
was shot. Jordan and Michels were able to call on their career-long
relationships in the music business to help secure current hits and iconic
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