Following the success of the first Pitch Perfect film, the announcement came out this past spring that a sequel will follow, projected for 2015. In this edition, I’m taking a look at five things I want to see from the upcoming Pitch Perfect sequel .
1. Stay a cappella. One of the reasons Pitch Perfect was such an accomplishment for the a cappella community was that it stayed true to the a cappella form—no hidden instrumentation, and a sound that, while cleaned up, never seemed to cross the line to implausible as authentic human voices singing in a live setting.
Indeed, I expect that a part of what’s so appealing about a cappella to a growing mainstream audience is witnessing the innovation of arrangement and technique that allows a cappella practitioners to achieve their sound without any instrumentation. So here’s hoping that the sequel retains that same purity and loyalty to the form.
2. Honoring music lovers. Another aspect of college a cappella that Pitch Perfect encapsulated quite well is that most of the community’s most serious citizens are also serious music fans, period. They know a range of music, and moreover they study it. No, not every music director doubles as a DJ, but it’s not a leap at all that someone who arranges creatively would also be into developing her own clever, diverse remixes and mashups. This is a big part of what separates the classic, stereotypical image of the a cappella nerd from the evolving understanding of a cappella artists as serious, innovative musicians. The latter image bodes well for a cappella’s continued growth.
3. Intense a cappella. Pitch Perfect went beyond barbershop and standards, but there remained an undercurrent of positivity to the film’s music. That’s to be expected, as I’m sure studio execs wanted to keep the mood light and the music accessible to the average movie-goer. That be said, I’d be interested to hear The Bellas go head to head in this sequel with a group more like The Nor’easters or The Penn’harmonics—groups that shock, awe, and don’t necessarily leave audiences smiling after they’ve rocked their socks off. As the infamous NPR article attested, there’s a war raging for the soul of contemporary a cappella—what better stage see that conflict through than a cappella’s highest profile stage, on the silver screen.
4. Returning cast. Some turnover is to be expected between sequels, and even makes storyline sense in a set of movies about college a cappella groups, which will see members graduate each year. That said, performances from Anna Kendrick and Rebel Wilson went a long way toward making the first Pitch Perfect funny, likeable, and easy for audiences to connect to. At minimum, I hope our leading ladies are back for the sequel.
5. Intercollegiate rivalry. I was OK with the commentators, the fancy lighting, and even the projectile vomit in the original Pitch Perfect film. These points may not be true to life, but I accept that they added accessibility and entertainment value to the movie. Let’s talk for a moment, though, about how Barton College has not one, but two a cappella groups that consistently make it to ICCA Finals. I won’t even get into the logistics of regional divisions, but seriously—this school seems to have the a cappella chops of Brigham Young, USC, and Northeastern combined!
The star-crossed lovers things was cool enough for one film, but I hope in the sequel we see what’s, in my mind, a more realistic big-time rivalry between groups from different schools.