by Jessica Marshall
Warm up those vocal chords, people—here comes "treble!" (And if you don't know what that means, you deserve to be pitch-slapped.)
"Pitch Perfect" hits select theaters this week, and then sings its way into a theater near you October 5. Loosely based on the nonfiction book "Pitch Perfect: The Quest for Collegiate A Cappella Glory" by Mickey Rapkin, the movie follows the musical adventures of the a cappella groups of fictional Barden College. The notes, sparks and snark fly between the cocky reigning champion all-male group and the dejected, old-fashioned all-female group when freshman Beca (Anna Kendrick) arrives on campus and shakes up the musical status quo. Brittany Snow, Rebel Wilson, Elizabeth Banks and Skylar Astin also star in this fest of musical mayhem from director Jason Moore (who also brought the world the hit puppet musical "Avenue Q.")
But before you can indulge in the mm-bopping, doo-wopping good time that is sure to ensue in theaters, here are five things you really must try:
Read the book
Back in 2009, GQ editor Mickey Rapkin went deep into the heart of the quirky, collegiate subculture we've come to know and love with the nerdy passion of a thousand band geeks. He followed three a cappella groups as they sang their way in multi-part harmonies seeking the holiest of holies—a place onstage at the International Championships of A Cappella (ICCA) finals...and all the drama, heartbreak and jazz-handedness that went with it.
Fox's hit series "Glee" is basically the high-school version of this movie, with the difference being that the gleeful group from William McKinley High considers themselves members of a "show choir" rather than an a cappella group (and they often sing with an actual band of random extras). There's plenty of dramatic pitch-slapping action in the show to satisfy full-fledged a cappella enthusiasts and non-musical types alike, with a heaping side portion of snazzy choreography.
Watch "The Sing-Off"
From 2009-2011, this former NBC reality show pit talented a cappella groups from all over the nation against each other in a series of "American Idol"-esque vocal challenges. One of the groups featured in "Pitch Perfect" (the book), the all-male Tufts Beelzebubs, was on the show in its first season and placed an impressive second overall. The performances are really fun to watch, and viewers are treated to some behind-the-scenes action too.
Start or join an a cappella group
Dust off the ol' pipes and see if you can warble on key. You cannot fully know the glory (and major guts) of the a cappella world unless you give it a try. And don't forget the jazz hands...they're crucial to all-around success.
Stage a [insert talent here]-off
It's one of the most dramatic memes in the world of performance art, whereby two or more groups of artists gather in a semi-sketchy abandoned space (in the case of "Pitch Perfect," it's an empty swimming pool) to one-up each other with their respective talents. Gather your peeps and rivals and try it. This Crush writer may or may not have participated in an unsanctioned Britney Spears dance-off in her college days that may or may not have been the most glorious thing ever.
Do you plan to see "Pitch Perfect"?