July 31, 2013

A cup, a local star, and song's a hit

Actress Anna Kendrick's version of the tune becomes a summer phenomenon, with Maine youths learning how to do the routines.

By Ray Routhier rrouthier@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

From left to right, Hannah Johnson, Caitlin Guthrie, Katherine Concannon, and Tatum Strunk, all 10 years old and from Cape Elizabeth, share a laugh while practicing the "Cups" song at Johnson's house in Cape Elizabeth, Wednesday, July 24, 2013.

Gabe Souza / Staff Photographer

In April, a longer version with more instrumentation was released to radio stations, along with a video depicting Kendrick as a day-dreaming waitress who gets everyone in the restaurant to do the cups routine with her.

Thus began a second life for the song and the cups routine. By this summer, young girls all over the country were doing it.

The song's enormous success surprised even Kendrick, who Tweeted in July: "I'm hearing my song on the radio. Every music biopic ever has taught me this will lead to drugs and madness."

Kendrick recently finished a film adaptation of the musical play "The Last Five Years," in which she plays an actress who has a five-year relationship with a novelist. She's scheduled to go to London this summer to play Cinderella in "Into the Woods," a film based on a musical by Stephen Sondheim.

In fact, Kendrick is so busy that her publicist said she would not have time to do an interview for this story – until next year.

Meanwhile, the "Cups" phenomenon continues to grow.

TUNE CATCHES ON IN MAINE

At the home of 10-year-old Hannah Johnson in Cape Elizabeth last week, Johnson and three of her friends demonstrated their "Cups" prowess.

The girls, all of whom will enter fifth grade this fall, had either learned the routine from the film and videos, or from other youngsters. They said just about everybody at school knew how to do it by the time summer break came around.

"Well, not the boys," said Hannah. "The boys are like, 'Can you please stop that?'"

One of the girls, Katherine Concannon, 10, recited a handy set of instructions, set to the beat of the song, that she uses to teach others what to do with the cup:

"Pitter pat, move the cup, keep the beat, and don't mess up."

While she said it, she moved the blue plastic cup from hand to hand, turned it over onto the coffee table several times and tilted it at angles. Watching the cup move was like watching a baton in the hands of a skilled majorette.

Once they learn the moves, youngsters must learn the words to "Cups," which are bluesy and folksy and not exactly the kind of lyrics that kids who listen to Carly Rae Jepsen are used to hearing:

"I've got my ticket for the long way 'round/ Two bottle whiskey for the way/ And I sure would like some sweet company/ And I'm leaving tomorrow, whaddya say?"

Perhaps the Maine group most inspired by Kendrick's pop hit is the Portland-area girls choir Musica de Filia, of which Kendrick was once a member.

The group's director, Jaye Churchill, keeps in touch with Kendrick. She decided to have the Musica de Filia Chamber Choir learn the song and routine as a bonding exercise before a trip in April to play a choir festival at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

The 24 girls sang the song on the bus ride down -- and sang it, cups and all, wherever they went.

"The actual cup part, with the hands, wasn't that hard to learn. But I had a hard time singing at the same time," said Sophie Chaney, 18, of Portland, a Musica de Filia member. "But it's fun to do the song and tell people (Kendrick) was a member."

Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:

rrouthier@pressherald.com

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