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Album Review

Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson and the rest of the Barden Bellas are back for more astounding a cappella acrobatics with Pitch Perfect 2—the soundtrack to which debuted at No. 1. And just as this perfectly harmonizing crew did the first time around, the Bellas (as well as their competition) cover tunes that span the gap from the 1930s to today. Some of those hits recall the tender innocence of bygone eras. Other covers, however, saunter brazenly into pretty explicit territory.

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Sexual Content

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Pro-social Content

A closer look at the lyrics of Pat Benatar’s 1984 ballad “We Belong” reveals a surprisingly complex glimpse into a fragile-yet-resilient romance. Because despite the struggles, the Bellas’ cover reaffirms in vow-like language a couple’s commitment to each other: “We belong to the light/ … Whatever we deny or embrace/For worse or for better/We belong, we belong/We belong together.”

Tim McGraw’s “Live Like You Were Dying” tells listeners, “I loved deeper/And I spoke sweeter.” We hear the resonant chorus from The Supremes’ 1966 classic “You Can’t Hurry Love”: “Oh, you can’t hurry love/No, you just have to wait/She said, ‘Love don’t come easy/It’s a game of give and take.' Snippets of John Legend’s “All of Me” implore and promise, “Give your all to me/I’ll give my all to you/I give myself to you.” Likewise, Jessie J’s soundtrack single “Flashlight” (which pops up both as her solo song as well as in tracks the Bellas perform) romantically gushes, “I got all I need when I got you and I/I look around me, and see sweet life/ … I’m not afraid when the rain won’t stop/’Cause you light the way.”

Objectionable Content

Lines from Nero’s “Promises” (“You got me so wild/How can I ever deny/You got me so high”) get fused to even more problematic stuff from Natalia Kills’ “Problem” (“Sweat/Dripping down your chest/Thinking ‘bout your tattooed knuckles/On my thigh, boy, boy, boy/ … My hips rocking/As we keep lip locking”). Another lyric in that sequence explicitly references oral sex. Pitbull’s “Timber” features excess drinking (“Let’s make a night you won’t remember”) and shameless objectification (“I have ‘em like Miley Cyrus, clothes off/Twerking in their bras and thongs. Timber!/Face down, booty up. Timber!/That’s the way I like to, what? Timber!”) And as for what happens when the teddy-‘n’-twerking party ends, well, let's just say the Bellas gleefully echo Pitbull's insistence that no doesn’t really mean no (“She says she won’t, but I bet she will”).

Mika’s “Lollipop” denigrates love (“Love’s gonna get you down”), then pairs that cynical sentiment with this suggestive reference: “Sucking too hard on your lollipop.” Booty-centric lyrics get plucked from Sisqo’s “Thong Song,” Sir Mix-a-Lot’s “Baby Got Back,” KC and The Sunshine Band’s “Shake, Shake, Shake,” Destiny’s Child’s “Bootylicious,” Bell Biv Devoe’s “Poison” and Flo Rida’s backside-ogling strip club anthem “Low.”

“What’s Love Got to Do With It” lyrics from Tina Turner distrustfully dismiss opening your heart up (“Who needs a heart when a heart can be broken?”). And Carrie Underwood’s “Until He Cheats” finds a jilted woman angrily taking “a Louisville slugger to both headlights,” among other destructive things.

Fall Out Boy’s “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark” admits, “I’m just dreaming of tearing you apart/I’m in the details with the devil/ … I’m in a young lover’s rage.” Another song mashes up Beyoncé’s “Run the World (Girls)” and David Guetta’s “Where Them Girls.” Lyrics from the former repeatedly ask, “Who run this mother? Girls,” while lines from the latter leer, “You’re the ish [a censored mispronunciation of the s-word], and I love that body/You wanna ball, let’s mix it.” Pentatonix redoes Journey’s hit “Any Way you Want It.” And the titular It in question here is, of course, sex.

Ester Dean’s solo single “Crazy Youngsters” dismissively minimizes youthful indiscretions and interjects “h---." A brief recapitulation of Anna Kendrick’s smash “Cups (When I’m Gone)” from the first Pitch Perfect mentions “two bottles of whiskey for the way.” Snoop Dogg can’t resist a wink at marijuana use in a rapped addition to “Winter Wonderland” (“I can take you higher, higher, chestnuts roasting on an open fire”). “This Is How We Do It” mentions being “kinda buzzed.” And however you interpret the chorus from Cypress Hill’s “Insane in the Membrane,” it’s definitely not good.

Summary Advisory

If only all the songs the Bellas and their besties sing were as praiseworthy as their undeniable vocal prowess. But that wasn’t the case on the first Pitch Perfect soundtrack, and it’s not the case on this one, either. The diverse list of songs selected for Pitch Perfect 2 covers nine decades of music. Some songs are sweet and upbeat. Others plunge headlong into nastiness by way of, say, reintroducing Sir Mix-a-Lot’s demeaning “Baby’s Got Back” to a new generation of young fans.

And that’s the biggest problem with this soundtrack: it’s propensity to dredge up tunes that have already done their cultural damage once, then giving them a platform for a harmonized encore.

Plot Summary

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Debuted at No. 1.

Record Label

Universal Music Group




May 12, 2015

On Video

Year Published



Adam R. Holz

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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