Somewhere in the world right now, Jennifer Lawrence is probably blushing in surprise and mild embarrassment. After all, Lawrence told us she had been forced to sing in Mockingjay , and proved that she wasn't very good at it, but apparently she underestimated her own considerable appeal. Despite her warning, "The Hanging Tree" is number 29 on the U.K. charts because the U.K., like the rest of the world, will pay money to watch Lawrence do anything at any time ever. Does this sound familiar? If it does, then you're as obsessed with Pitch Perfect as I am. I don't know about you, but, prior to Pitch Perfect, I didn't know that the game "Cups" had a song that went with it. And, after Pitch Perfect, I never wanted to hear that song again.
Sure, "Cups" and "The Hanging Tree" are two completely different songs, in sound and originality at least. After all, "Cups," like every other song in Pitch Perfect, was a cover of a pre-existing song that had been released in 2012. Meanwhile, "The Hanging Tree" is a haunting song written by author Suzanne Collins specifically for The Hunger Games. If anything, we might hear a cover version of "The Hanging Tree" in a Pitch Perfect 3 one day. However, people had enough of a similar reaction to the two songs to make me wonder what they actually had in common. It turns out that it's more than you think.
1. Their themes are universal
"The Hanging Tree" is basically the realest thing to come out of a movie since half of the Les Miserables soundtrack. It's a forbidden song that Katniss hasn't sung since she was a little girl, and, despite its actual meaning, it rises to become the symbolic protest song of the revolution. Meanwhile, in "Cups," the singer is talking about leaving their hometown and traveling around the world — and how lonely they'd be without a loved one at their side. Both songs have something that we can relate to, or something that we'd be moved by, inherent in their themes of love and loss.
2. Their lyrics are pretty deep
I mean, "The Hanging Tree" is deep in a morbid kind of way and "Cups" is deep in a dynamic sort of way — but I think that's incredibly fitting to the tones of both source films, don't you? The fact of the matter is, when you strip away the pomp and circumstances, both songs are about a person asking their love to meet them and go with them somewhere, but they both take different lyrical routes to that message.
3. They are perfect for covers
Both "The Hanging Tree" and "Cups" practically invite you to sing your own version of the song. In fact, the whole reason that "Cups" was lengthened to a radio single to begin with was because so many parody videos cropped up of people performing the song with a cup of their own. Meanwhile, "The Hanging Tree" is the kind of thing you can belt out in a cover to prove your vocal range, even if there aren't many parody videos. (Yet.)
4. They're catchy
Repetition and a smooth beat make "Cups" and "The Hanging Tree" easy to memorize and easy to get stuck in your head. The scene in Mockingjay in which Katniss starts singing the song and the film cuts to the rebels finishing the song is a good approximation of how easily I left the theater humming it. At this point, I am very tired of hearing "Cups," but that's just because I had it stuck in my head for three months straight. See: catchy.
5. They're sung by two awesome leading ladies
"The Hanging Tree" is sung by Lawrence and "Cups" is sang by Anna Kendrick, both of them alone on the song for the soundtrack. In-universe, Katniss Everdeen and Beca Mitchell sing their solo songs in pivotal scenes that really serve to display their character and the tone of the film they're in. Part of the reason these songs are so popular is due to the popularity of the awesome ladies who are singing them.
6. We didn't even know they could sing
I don't know about you, but I didn't know Kendrick could sing before Pitch Perfect came out. I also didn't know that Lawrence could sing before Mockingjay came out. (Although, she underestimates her own ability to sing.) The novelty of that is part of what draws us all to these songs.
7. We didn't see these songs coming
When we heard that Lorde was curating the Mockingjay soundtrack, did anyone guess that Lawrence would have a single on it? No? That's what I thought. When we heard the songs on the Pitch Perfect soundtrack, did any of us know Kendrick would perform a solo song that took the game Cups to a new, musical level? No? That's what I thought. These songs were like surprise gifts to the world and that's why they're on the charts. They don't have to sound the same to evoke the same reaction from movie audiences. They basically are the same.
Relive the goodness of both songs below.