The 12 Best College A Cappella Groups in the Country

Posted Aug 20 2013 - 2:00pm

5. The Whiffenpoofs (Yale University)

Maybe you remember them from season 2 of The Sing-Off, or from the time in the Gossip Girl book series when Serena van der Woodsen visits Yale and immediately falls in love with all of them—either way, it’s hard not to forget a name like the Whiffenpoofs, especially considering they’re the oldest a cappella group in the US. Established in 1909, The Whiffenpoofs boast Cole Porter as an alumnus and have appeared on Saturday Night Live, Gilmore Girls, The Today Show, and The West Wing. They also perform regularly throughout the US and travel internationally every year. So what exactly is a Whiffenpoof? According to their website, it’s a mythical dragonfish. Member Denton ‘Goat’ Fowler suggested the group name themselves after the creature more than 100 years ago as they started to get popular. We may not really get why a mythical dragonfish was the inspiration for an a cappella group’s title, but at least it’s a cute name.

6. The Dartmouth Aires (Dartmouth College)

If you watched their “Queen Medley” performance on season 3 of The Sing-Off, you can understand why this amazing group won second place in the competition—actually, why didn’t they just win the whole thing?! The Aires, who describe themselves as “a minstrel show” and “a pack of nomads,” tour every winter and spring break, frequently to abroad locations such as Costa Rica and Paris. As two-time winners of the Contemporary A Cappella Recording Award for Best All-Male Collegiate Album, it’s no wonder that they’ve been featured on many BOCA albums. The Aires sum up their goofy nature pretty well on their website by saying: “The Aires are a busy bunch. The Aires are a fun bunch. Heck, the Aires are the Brady Bunch, without the ladies and without Alice the maid.” That makes sense, kind of.

7. The Clef Hangers (UNC-Chapel Hill)

With their iconic bowties and vests, every inch of which are covered in eclectic buttons, the Clef Hangers are an a cappella favorite at UNC-Chapel Hill. But they’re not just loved in North Carolina—they’ve also been featured on multiple BOCA CDs and have won three Contemporary A Cappella Recording Awards. The Clefs have performed all over the U.S. as well as in Spain, Scotland, and France, and have performed on an episode of Good Morning America. The Clefs also boast star power in alumnus Anoop Desai, who was a contestant on season 8 of American Idol and earned support from celebs such as Keith Urban and Ellen DeGeneres. The Clefs can be seen performing their signature song, James Taylor’s “Carolina in my Mind,” at every UNC commencement ceremony (if you need directions, look for the female UNC students with melting hearts).

8. The Gentlemen (University of Michigan)

The G-Men, an all-male (surprise?) group typically dressed in blue jerseys, have been stealing hearts at UMich since 1995. The group’s version of “I See You” by Mika was featured on Voices Only 2012, and they have competed in the ICCA semifinals twice. The G-Men have also performed for Bill Clinton, but more importantly, according to their website, “they are known for their massive biceps, fanatical obsession with puppies, and for rocking audiences with the power of 100 raging buffalo.” We believe it.

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