While auditioning for The Barden Bellas in Pitch Perfect Anna Kendrick grabbed a cup, and proceeded to revive an old country song recorded in 1931. That’s right – the “Cup Song” isn’t new. In fact, it’s quite old. The Carter Family, one of country music’s earliest superstar acts, first recorded “When I’m Gone” on Monday, May 25, 1931. (Source)
Original “When I’m Gone”
The Carter Family – When I’m Gone
The “cup game” has been played by bored kids at summer camps for decades.
Video of the Cup Game from 1987.
Even Full House Did It!
So who decided to combine the “Cup Game” with “When I’m Gone”? That credit goes to two girls known as Lulu and the Lampshades (now known as Landshapes). Here’s the first video of them performing their version of the song.
“When I’m Gone”, With Cups!
A girl named Anna Burden saw Lulu and the Lampshades version and decided to cover it. Her version soon went viral thanks to this post on Reddit. Anna Kendrick, saw the video, and proceeded to learn the song. Here’s what she had to say about discovering the song.
“I saw this viral video on Reddit and it’s just this girl doing this thing with the cups, and again because I’m a huge loser, I thought the best way to spend an entire afternoon would be like watching this video 50 times and learning how to do it, and when they found out I could do it they wanted me to do it in the movie.” – Anna Kendrick (Source)
The Viral Video
She also discussed the song in an interview with Collider.
“Yeah, that’s actually, that was just a viral video that I found on reddit. I am a huge fucking loser so I decided to spend an afternoon learning to do that thing with the cups and learning that song. When they found out that I could do that, they were like, “Oh my god, that’s going in the movie.” Originally that scene was going to be like “I’m a Little Tea Cup” or something. It was supposed to be weird and funny and the second that they saw me do that, they were like, “Okay. That’s your audition song.”” – Anna Kendrick (Source)