Music Review: Various Artists – Pitch Perfect Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

February 23, 2014



Film soundtracks are usually about creating atmosphere for the visuals – sharp jabs at a violin to signify a man with a knife behind a shower curtain; two notes on a cello to suggest that you’re about to lose your abdomen to a giant shark – rather than about celebrating music in its own right.

Pitch Perfect, the film, was an unexpected treasure, far more witty and multi-layered than any American high school flick – especially an apparent Glee knock-off – had any right to be.  (In bizarrely related news, I now have not one but two “Fat Amy” accounts following me on Twitter). It tells the story of an intelligent outsider, played by Anna Kendrick, who reluctantly joins one of her university’s many a capella groups and survives the ensuing petty politics and social shenanigans to like, you know, discover herself.

In this college, 30% is not a pass mark, and the routines and arrangements the a capella outfits must come up with in order to overcome each other at the various regional competitions are at worst the equal of anything you’ve ever seen in the music video of an established artist and at best extraordinary. And yes, it’s Hollywood – smoke and mirrors – but there’s also real craft, and Kendrick’s name in the album credits suggests that there was more required of her than to simply be the name on the poster.

The quality of the film extends to the soundtrack, with the bulk of the pieces here being strong standalone recordings – especially the medleys. Riff Off features three separate crews mixing together eight different songs, and the timing, pitch and rhythm changes involved are brilliantly handled and presented.

The best offering, Pool Mashup, comprises only two songs – Just The Way You Are and Just A Dream – but arranged in a way that requires even more skill to pull off than the medleys. It’s a mash-up; two songs sung at the same time as counter-melodies, flowing over and through each other. It’s thrilling stuff, raising goose-bumps the first time you hear it and remaining almost as good with each successive listen.

Pitch Perfect the film is more than good enough to impress an adult audience, even though, presumably, it was designed for tweens. The music has the same quality: listen to it without thinking, and it’s superior fluff. Pay close attention to the proficiency involved, and it’s simply superior.

  1. Don’t Stop The Music                                                           7.00
  2. Let It Whip                                                                            6.75
  3. Since U Been Gone                                                               7.75
  4. Cups                                                                                      7.50
  5. Riff Off                                                                                   8.00
  6. Bellas Regionals                                                                    7.50
  7. Right Round                                                                          6.75
  8. Pool Mashup                                                                         8.50
  9. Party In The USA                                                                   7.50
  10. Trebles Finals                                                                        7.25
  11. Bellas Finals                                                                           8.25
  12. Toner (Instrumental Suite)                                                    6.00

Rating: 7.396