From the Warblers of Glee to all the awesome groups on The Sing-Off, we can’t get enough of a cappella music. Ever since the first college a cappella group was created in 1909, these ensembles have been a fixture on campuses across the nation, bringing both a goofy and a reverent spirit to some of the most popular songs ever written. There are a lot of amazingly talented collegiate crooners out there, so we’ve made a list of our 12 favorite groups that are so fantastic, they make us wonder why we’d ever listen to music with instruments anyway.
1. On the Rocks (University of Oregon)
We’re caught in a bad romance with On the Rocks, an all-male a cappella group that was the first collegiate a cappella group in Oregon. Not only did the group compete on the second season of NBC’s The Sing-Off, but they also have been on multiple Best Of College A Cappella (BOCA) compilation albums and competed in the International Championship of A Cappella (ICCA). On the Rocks are also the masters of going viral. A video of their Rick Roll on a NYC subway has had more than two million views, while a performance of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” complete with Mother Monster dance moves has had over eight million views. Watch their official “Bad Romance” music video above—we dare you not to laugh at their goofy choreography (or fall in love with all of them).
2. The Beelzebubs (Tufts University)
Remember how we fell completely in love with Blaine Anderson and all of the Warblers after Darren Criss sang “Teenage Dream” on Glee back in 2010? Meet the real Warblers: The Tufts University Beelzebubs provided the vocals for almost every Warblers track on the show (aside from Darren’s beautiful solos, of course). In addition to thousands of squealing girls’ TVs across the US, the Bubs (as they are affectionately called) have also performed in places such as Thailand, Singapore, Brazil, England, Paris, and Argentina. Glee isn’t the Bubs’ only experience on TV; the Medford group won second place on season 1 of The Sing-Off, and they performed on an episode of My Super Sweet Sixteen. And as if we needed more of a reason to love them, the group also gives back to the community through The Bubs Foundation, which supports underfunded middle and high school music programs.
3. Penn Masala (University of Pennsylvania)
What happens when you take ridiculously talented singers, add some pop music and throw a little Hindi music into the mix? You get Penn Masala, the world’s first Hindi a cappella group, and some incredibly chilling mashups. Penn Masala is famous throughout the world for their music, having performed all over the country as well as in Canada, London, and India (multiple times). The group performed at the 2003 Zee Bollywood Awards in New York, where they received the Project IMPACT Award for Outstanding Contribution to the South Asian-American Community. Another notable Penn Masala performance was at the 2009 White House Diwali celebration and signing of the Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, which addressed “issues concerning the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community.” And did we mention they’ve been on BOCA CDs and the soundtrack for the 2001 movie American Desi? Yeah, we’d say they’re pretty good.
4. The Sil’hooettes (University of Virginia)
The Sil’hooettes are the epitome of a cappella girl power. These singing superstars have won multiple Contemporary A Cappella Recording Awards and have been featured on BOCA CDs and Voices Only, a compilation of the best a cappella songs in the nation. They have performed at places such as the Kennedy Center, Boston Red Sox baseball games, and Baltimore Orioles baseball games, and they have also opened for Ben Folds and Girl Talk. While their cover of “Idioteque” by Radiohead landed them on the 2012 BOCA album, the Sils also do an amazing job covering female vocal powerhouses such as Lana Del Rey.