Music
3:23 pm
Sun August 18, 2013

A Year After Its Debut, The Song 'Cups' Becomes A Hit

Transcript

(SOUNDBITE OF CUPS GAME)

DON GONYEA, HOST:

Does that sound familiar? You may recognize "Cups" as a rhythmic game from your childhood or from the song "Cups" which is on Billboard's hot 100 as the number six song in the country right now.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CUPS")

ANNA KENDRICK: (Singing) When I'm gone. When I'm gone. You're gonna miss me when I'm gone.

GONYEA: That's Anna Kendrick in a version of the song from the movie "Pitch Perfect," which came out last year. Since then, it's blown up. Why is it so popular all of a sudden?

AMANDA DOBBINS, WRITER: The original version of the song was actually called "Will You Miss Me When I'm Gone?" And it is a 1928 recording by the original Carter family, the very first generation.

GONYEA: That's Amanda Dobbins. She's written about the "Cups'" phenomenon.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WILL YOU MISS ME WHEN I'M GONE?")

THE CARTER FAMILY: (Singing) Will you miss me, will you miss me when I'm gone.

J.E. MAINERS MOUNTAINEERS: (Singing) You're gonna miss me by walk, you're gonna miss me by my talk. Oh, I know you will miss me when I'm gone.

GONYEA: Pretty soon after that, a group called J.E. Mainers Mountaineers - you're hearing them now - reworked the song. But where does the mashup of "When I'm Gone," now known as the "Cups" song, and the old "Cups" game come in? In 2009, a British band named Lulu and the Lampshades made this video combining the two.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CUPS (WHEN I'M GONE)")

LULU AND THE LAMPSHADES: (Singing) When I'm gone. When I'm gone. When I'm gone. When I'm gone. You're gonna miss me when I'm gone. You're gonna miss me by my hair, you're gonna miss me everywhere. And I know that you will miss me when I'm gone.

GONYEA: And from there, it didn't take long. A woman named Anna Burden saw that video and made her own.

ANNA BURDEN: And it was this version that became instantly viral.

GONYEA: Anna Kendrick saw that video, learned it, and it became part of the movie. And this year, the longer, radio-friendly version of the song that you're probably most familiar with was released.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CUPS")

KENDRICK: (Singing) I got my ticket for the long way round, the one with the prettiest of views.

GONYEA: I first heard this at a wedding back home this summer. And, of course, kids and adults have been practicing the game nonstop.

OK. From - wait, from where? From five?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: So, five.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: From five.

GONYEA: OK.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: OK.

GONYEA: Clap, up...

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: Hit...

GONYEA: ...hit, down. And I'm clearly still perfecting the routine.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CUPS")

KENDRICK: (Singing) I got my ticket for the long way round two bottles of whiskey for the way. And I sure would like some sweet company... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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