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Music Reviews

MPAA Rating
Genre
Pop, Rock, R&B
Performance
Reached No. 3.
Record Label
Universal
RELEASED
September 25, 2012
Reviewer
Adam R. Holz
Various/Soundtrack

Various/Soundtrack

Pitch Perfect (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

The world of competitive interscholastic singing can be a surprisingly fierce environment. And you don't have to watch Glee to figure that out. Hollywood's beating this drum from other angles, too, with the 2012 movie Pitch Perfect singing soprano in the chorus.

That movie and its accompanying soundtrack aspire to a feel-good vibe as they appropriate and a cappella-ize current hits as well as yesteryear's chart-toppers. A closer look at many of the soundtrack's songs, however, reveals some choices that are anything but pitch perfect.

Pro-Social Content

One of the collegiate musical groups from the movie, the Barden Bellas, sings a portion of The Bangles' 1989 love song "Eternal Flame" ("Do you feel my heart beating?/ … Do you feel the same thing?/ … I don't want to lose this feeling/Is this feeling an eternal flame?") They also cover Bruno Mars' mushy "Just the Way You Are," in which a guy says of his girl, "When I see your face/There's not a thing that I would change/'Cause you're amazing, just the way you are."

Lines from Jessie J.'s "Price Tag" lament a lack of integrity ("Seems like everybody's got a price/I wonder how they sleep at night/When the sale comes first and the truth comes second"). On "Let It Whip" (originally performed by the Dazz Band), a member of the Treblemakers (the Bellas' rival) sings, "I only wanna be with you/ … I won't waste your time/I sense something divine in you." We hear a cover of Kelly Clarkson's "Since U Been Gone," in which a woman who's just broken up with her beau chooses to skirt despondency by celebrating newfound freedom ("Since you've been gone/I can breathe for the first time").

Objectionable Content

Those few positive moments, however, bob in a sea of sexual innuendo—some of it winking, some of it brazen. We hear Rihanna's "Don't Stop the Music," which blends sensuality and suggestiveness on the dance floor ("I just came here to party/But now we're rocking on the dance floor, acting naughty") as well as a snippet (in a medley) of her salacious "S&M" ("'Cause I may be bad/But I'm perfectly good at it/Sex is in the air/I don't care, I love the smell of it/Sticks and stones may break my bones/But chains and whips excite me").

That last segment comes in the midst of a "riff off" between the Bellas and the Treblemakers that includes lots of sex-oriented lyrics, from bits of Madonna's "Like a Virgin" to Salt 'N' Peppa's "Let's Talk About Sex" to "Boyz II Men's "I'll Make Love to You" to Foreigner's "Feels Like the First Time." Then the soundtrack takes another big step—down—into outright sleaze with a cover of Flo Rida's ode to strippers, "Right Round." A small sampling of those lyrics: "From the top of the pole I watch her go down/She got me throwin' my money around/Ain't nothin' more beautiful to be found/ … Poppin' these bottles, touchin' these models/Watchin' they a‑‑es go down, down."

In similar territory, a cover of Pitbull's recent "Give Me Everything" is also focused on just one carnal thing: "Grab somebody sexy/Tell them, 'Hey'/Give me everything tonight/ … Take advantage of tonight/ … Tonight, I can make you my queen/And make love to you endless." "Let It Whip" also flirts with suggestive details as a boy and a girl size each other up on the dance floor.

The soundtrack's deluxe edition includes Lily Allen's 2009 song "F‑‑‑You," which, according to multiple sources, was her spiteful farewell message to George W. Bush. We hear the first two verses ("Look inside/Look inside your tiny mind/Now look a bit harder/'Cause we're all so uninspired/So sick and tired of all the hatred you harbor/So you say/It's not OK to be gay/Well, I think you're just evil/You're just some racist who can't tie my laces/Your point of view is medieval") followed by two repetitions of the chorus, with the titular f-word shortened to "ef you" ("Ef you, ef you/Ef you very, very much/'Cause we hate what you do/And we hate your whole crew/So please don't stay in touch").

We hear references to whisky and Patrón, as well as a misuse of the Lord's name.

Summary Advisory

Listening to the Treblemakers' a cappella take on Rihanna's "Don't Stop the Music," my very first thought focused on how talented the singers were. And make no mistake: There's plenty of vocal prowess on display in the Pitch Perfect soundtrack. That's at least one of the reasons it's been steadily climbing the album chart as of late.

It's all the more disappointing, then, that these singers' skills have been deliberately harnessed in the service of songs glorifying casual sex, S&M and strippers—among other things—nastily sullying the inspirational, feel-good vibe that this style of music is so well known for.

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