What A Cappella Singers Think Of Pitch Perfect

Unless you've been in an a cappella group yourself, you'll never quite understand what it's like. However, those of us who spent our college years and beyond beat-boxing, harmonizing, and making obscure musical inside jokes on Friday nights know that Pitch Perfect does a pretty good job of trying. Finally, a movie that shows the good, the bad, and the aca-ugly behind the weird world that is making music with your mouths.

When the first film came out in 2012, I went to the theater with my fellow a cappella nerds and spent most of it pointing out all the things we identified with, for the first time feeling seen. Surely, now everyone will realize how cool a cappella really is. I'm still waiting.

Fast forward to this Friday, when the third movie in the franchise hits theaters, this time telling the story of of something many former a cappella singers have faced: How do you get a job when your biggest talent is being able to go "da-da" on pitch?

But money, career, future? Let's put all that on the backburner. This post is about the music — specifically, just how much does Pitch Perfect get right when it comes to translating the most sacred of collegiate extracurriculars to the big screen?

Ahead, we spoke to former a cappella singers, as well as those whose groups are still going strong, about what they think of Pitch Perfect. What does the franchise get right? What does it get wrong? And how many times, approximately, have you been asked to do a riff-off? I'm hoping to have my shot any day now.

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No one sounds this beautifully auto-tuned performing!
Liisa Murray, "Harmonious Delights" & "Absolute A Cappella"

"I saw the first one and my immediate thought was – no one sounds this beautifully auto-tuned performing! Also I cannot remember a single person saying aca-anything. And my a cappella experience was more singing '80s songs in dirty dorms than glamorous competitions. But the thing that is true is that you make very solid friendships in your group. I'm still best friends with several people I sang with – it's a special thing to sing with people." — Liisa Murray, 34, New York

The first one especially makes me nostalgic for singing in college.
Matt Hemler, "Bent Pitch"

"We actually did a small show and screening of the first Pitch Perfect movie as a fundraiser for our group around the time the second movie came out. Obviously aspects of the story are played up for effect in a Hollywood movie, but the first one especially makes me nostalgic for singing in college: drunken shenanigans, singing in weird places (well, weird by other people's standards – I like to say that shame is for people who don't do a cappella), and so on. My group often references Pitch Perfect, especially the 'password'–'fart noise' exchange, because I don't think that joke will ever get old. As a singer, I'm very jealous of the riff-off, because it would require a level of improvisation that I just don't have to pull off in real life." — Matt Helmer, 38, California

It did a great job of showing the weird culty family that is college a cappella.
Korama, "Alef Beats"

"I love the original Pitch Perfect movie. I even own it on DVD. I actually thought it did a great job of showing the weird culty family that is college a cappella. It’s obviously exaggerated, but the characters felt grounded in reality. The whole weird initiation rite thing: spot on. The sequel wasn’t my favorite because the whole original song storyline fell flat for me (just like it did when Glee tried it). Regardless, I’m excited for the new movie. Merry Pitchmas!!" — Korama, 26, California

I wouldn't say it's all wrong, but it's definitely exaggerated for dramatic effect.
Corson Barnard, "The Ransom Notes"

"I think the most dramatic thing for me, especially after becoming music director of my group, was that Beca spontaneously put that random song into their ICCA performance! I would have personally murdered Beca for that. Bring up whatever ideas you have during rehearsals, I'd be thrilled to hear them and will promise to take them into serious consideration, but don't RANDOMLY INSERT SHIT INTO THE PERFORMANCE WITHOUT TELLING ANYONE???!!!!!!!! Tbh I'm still heated about it!

I would also LOVE to have a real-life riff-off. Like, people put years into arrangements sometimes. To have the opportunity and talent to just improv an entire song? I think it would be so much fun!

It's funny to me how often people who don't do a cappella assume Pitch Perfect is the prime example of what it's like. Like, I wouldn't say it's all wrong, but it's definitely exaggerated for dramatic effect, in the same way that Stick It isn't exactly like elite gymnastics and Legally Blonde isn't really an accurate representation of law school at all.

But the personal drama? All real. Even in post-collegiate groups. SOS. " — Corson Barnard, 22, Illinois

"Pitch Perfect is what ignited my love for a cappella."
Gianluca Russo

"Pitch Perfect is what ignited my love for a cappella. After the seeing the first film, I ran to the head of my college’s student division and requested we start an a cappella club. It was definitely much more work than in the films, but just as much fun!" — Gianluca Russo, 20, New York

It’s every choir nerd's dream come true to see a cappella on the big screen.
"The Filharmonic"

"It’s every choir nerd's dream come true to see a cappella on the big screen. Our passion of a cappella is bringing joy and laughter to audiences worldwide. It doesn’t get any cooler than that." — The Filharmonic, California

What I don’t love is how easy they make a cappella look.
Nora Stolzman, "Boston University's In Achord"

"Well, interestingly enough, it is rumored that a lot of the Pitch Perfect movie foundation was actually inspired by Northeast (and I think some West) college a cappella. It would make sense, because they captured the tradition aspect, the support aspect and the family aspects of a cappella really nicely. When you are in a group, it really does become your family. My group are some of my best friends, we spend so much time together and make music together and it’s honestly a blast.

I do like the movie, I think it’s hilarious, and I LOVE Anna Kendrick, but what I don’t love is how easy they make a cappella look. For example, the whole 'riff-off' situation. We get asked so often by people outside the a cappella community if we can have a riff-off. And to be honest, we could probably improvise one, but it’s unrealistic to imagine that everyone would split into three perfect sections of harmony without communicating. Basically, learning a cappella arrangements takes so much time and focus, and Pitch Perfect kind of glosses over that immensely (although their version makes for a more entertaining movie, I suppose)!" — Nora Stolzman, 20, Boston

I just remember thinking, "Yup, there's me."
Madison Kircher, Duelly Noted

"I've only seen the first movie, but I have a distinct memory of watching the scene where Brittany Snow is explaining the different campus groups to Anna Kendrick. There's one group she points to and says 'They sing a lot of Madonna.' It's a co-ed group wearing rainbow clothing and giving each other back rubs and I just remember thinking, 'Yup, there's me/Duelly Noted.' (I went to Hamilton College so the name's a terrible pun on the Hamliton/Burr duel.) Also that whole 'riff-off' thing is so bogus. A little vocal improv among groups that are really talented and have been rehearsing together for years might be possible, pulling of half a dozen perfectly arranged pop songs in four-plus part in quick succession based on hearing somebody say a single word seems way less plausible. I guess they technically could have all those songs memorized in their repertoire but I don't think that's what we're supposed to think is happening. This is some BS, Kendrick!!!!!!" — Madison Kircher, 25, New York

"A movie that captured the joy and fun of creating beautiful music together with your friends."
Annick Bickson, "Trinity College Quirks"

"Loved it, probably couldn't tell you how many times I've seen it because I've lost count. I graduated in 2014, so I was in school when the first one was released. It was on our group's radar since the first trailers came out. Some things that were accurate: ridiculous a cappella community parties that involved singing and mingling, the inter-group hookups, the sense of sisterhood in an all-girl group and in the community in general, harmonizing all the time, use of a capella puns in everyday conversation. As a singer it was wonderful to see a cappella celebrated – a movie that captured the joy and fun of creating beautiful music together with your friends." — Annick Bickson, 27, New York

What always stood out to me through my hazy memory of it was the cutthroat nature of the groups.
Alex Urist, "Take 5"

"I think what always stood out to me through my hazy memory of it was the cutthroat nature of the groups, like sure there was 'competition,' but not in the severe disdain that they portray. Also no love for the odd types of a cappella groups." — Alex Urist, 25, New York

The sense of competition that we feel is real.

"The sense of competition that we feel is real, as it’s shown in Pitch Perfect. Though, the film doesn’t show the comradeship we also feel with the dozens of other a capella groups, even our all boys ensemble." — Noteworthy, BYU

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