First of all, the cup game used to play the cup song has been around for decades. It's played at summer camps, youth groups, and on Zoom (congratulations if you remember Zoom). The game is no new thing. What is relatively new, however, is combining it with one particular song. The name of the song that they used in Pitch Perfect is an old (country? bluegrass? I don't know, you decide) song called "You're Gonna Miss Me" by the Mainer's Mountaineers, from the 1930's. I think that it's a pretty good match, and the song is catchy, too.
Here is the first time that the cup game was used with "You're Gonna Miss Me"
The duo who pioneered this trend is known as Lulu and the Lampshades. I've never heard them before, but I have no idea who most people are most of the time, anyway.
So be not deceived: These two were the first to sing the Mountaineers' song with the cup game, not Pitch Perfect.
Okay, we now know the origin of the song used in the Cup Song. This next part is going to surprise you...
The earliest known use of the cup game was by none other than...
That's right. The Ragamuffn man and his Ragamuffin Band were (as far as I'm concerned) the first people to use the cup song. Now, just because this is the earliest known use of the cup game doesn't necessarily mean that it wasn't around before, but for the rest of this post we will assume so.
The first time the cup song was used was in 1987, when Rich Mullins and the Ragamuffins used it when singing Screen Door acapella.
Of course there's a video!
Yes! I love this fact! This man is classic. If you don't know much about Rich Mullins, I highly encourage you to look him up. I guarantee you that your life will be better. ^_^
Now, if you're in the middle of an awkwardly silent conversation, YOU can triumphantly break the ice with this simple statement:
"Rich Mullins invented the Cup Song."
p.s. I got most of this information from this video about the cup song