Song Analysis: Anna Kendrick “Cups” (Pitch Perfect’s When Im Gone)

Sometimes hits can come from the most unexpected places.

Usher’s Get Low was only suppose to a mixtape hit.  Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody experienced a resurrection due to Wayne’s World.  Home by Philip Philips.

These and a handful of others song struck a chord within the general audience and just kept going and going like a runaway freight train.

One another accidental hit is Anna Kendrick’s “Cups.”

The theme hits home because we all have that someone that we just want to say , “Listen, your life would be better with me in it. So why are you leaving? WHY???!!!”

Even though other have people interpreted as the singer leaving because they’re going off to war or that they have the desire to travel the world.

The song was first recorded by The Carters (which included Johnny Cash’s future wife June)

then Anna saw this video.

That’s Anna Burden doing a cover of Lulu And The Lampshades (who themselves we’re just doing a cover of the Carter’s version)

Im digging the fuller choir vocal harmonies of this version.

If you want to study amazing vocal melodies, you have to go back to folk songs. Cause if you think about it, they didn’t have no fancy digital audio workstations to work with, no auto-tune, nothing. Just themselves, a guitar and a desire to travel the world playing.

Also another thing worth noting in the lyrics. Check out the pacing and syllable count of the verse vs. the hook.


I’ve got my ticket for the long (8)
way ’round (2)
Two bottle whiskey for the way(8)
And I sure would like some (5)
sweet company (3)
And I’m leaving tomorrow(7)
 what do ya say? (3)

There’s a lot more syllables packed inside a verse to help it move forward and create tension.
Which is then released in the hook.


when Im gone (3)
when Im gone (3)
you’re gonna miss me (5)
when Im gone (3)
you’re gonna miss me by my hair (8)
you’re gonna miss me everywhere (oh) (8)
you’re gonna miss me (5)
when Im gone (3)

Hooks, in order to be hooky and have a stronger emotional impact, need that longer vowel sound.

The movie version is great with just Anna and the cup because it shows that a great song with great vocal melodies can be really effective.


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