The Warblers sent hearts racing long before Pitch Perfect came out. Whether they have signature bowtie uniforms or perform for screaming fans in Asia, real-life male a cappella groups easily make fans swoon with their “eargasmic” mouth music. The groups from these top 10 pitch-perfect schools know how to make you fangirl just like you do for the Treblemakers when they perform “Lollipop.” Wow—famous, talented and well-rounded (and cute)? Check out where you need to transfer to find the best acafellas around.
10. University of Michigan
Known for their charming personalities and viral videos, Michigan’s all-male group The G-Men never disappoint. Their stunning rendition of “Radioactive” makes them hella relevant as they capture all of the song’s heavy bass and emotion by only using their mouths without the song’s signature drums. The G-Men even performed privately for the Obamas in December 2013. Diverse performances covering hits like “Bleeding Love” and “Love Lockdown” aim to please all members of the crowd. For the students in the group who really want to pursue music, the school offers limitless areas of study in its School of Music, Theatre and Dance, cultivating one of the most diverse music programs in the country.
9. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Founded in 1977, UNC’s Clef Hangers keep it snazzy with their signature vests and bowties. They came up with their name by copying the initials of Chapel Hill (punny, I know). Known for their soul-pop prowess and covers of hitmakers like Justin Timberlake and Frank Ocean, the Clef Hangers have made their way onto many BOCA albums (Best of Collegiate A Cappella). The group boasts several famous alumni, such as American Idol contestant Anoop Desai and singer-songwriter Brendan James (look him up—trust me). The school also offers focuses of study in traditional areas like piano playing, vocal performance and, perhaps most relevant to any acafellas out there, popular music.
8. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Let’s be real—the Logarhythms win bonus points just for the name alone. MIT’s flagship a cappella group formed in 1949 and proudly serves as the school’s oldest group. The Logs have serenaded audiences for the past 70 years with popular music in every genre, such as pop, R&B and rock, and have even recorded six full-length albums in their own studio on campus. “We have a recording studio on campus, which we built ourselves, that allows us to work on studio projects whenever we want. Members of the group record each other, and we are easily able to experiment with new parts and sounds that differ from a given arrangement,” Music Director Neil Aggarwal said. The group makes fun “theatrical” trailers for its upcoming shows with themes like BatLogs and has an amazing theme song called “Superlogs.” Nothing wrong with a healthy ego boost now and then.
7. University of Pennsylvania
Only one word can describe Penn Masala: effortlessly cool (well, two words). Penn’s premier South Asian group formed in 1996 and has been making albums and touring both hemispheres ever since. They often perform in India, as they identify as a Hindi group, and their next India tour starts in May. Recent shows include those at other universities and a performance at the Global India Fund Gala 2015 in Washington, D.C. The group even cameoed in Pitch Perfect 2. What?! They blend classical Indian sounds with modern hits in many genres, including pop, hip-hop, R&B and rock. The school’s Department of Music offers diverse intro classes for those considering studying music on topics like world music and musicianship. These guys sure know how to do a little bit of everything and do it damn well.
6. Tufts University
While the word “Beelzebub” means devil, Tufts’ group of the same name can do no wrong. With the motto “Fun Through Song,” The Bubs Foundation helps fund Boston public school music programs, and some of the members appeared as the Dalton Academy Warblers on Glee. “Their music in Glee was one of the best parts of the show. They make such unique harmonies that really add depth to songs,” Northwestern sophomore Rachel Traisman said. The Beelzebubs perform songs from various genres and won second place on NBC’s The Sing-Off with a performance of “Right Round” back in 2009 that was responsible for the sexual awakening of tween girls nationwide. They even transcended television as their music played in outer space! No lie. In 1988, Tufts alumnus Rick Hauck rode to the stars on space shuttle A62 and played the Bubs’ recording of “Tuftonia Day.” Talk about a group with no limits.
5. Northwestern University
The men of Northwestern sure know how to party with their two all-male a cappella groups: Freshman Fifteen and Asterik. “I can’t divulge exactly what our rituals are, but we get pumped up before the show in a very specific way,” freshman Tynan Friend of Asterik said. “If we give the crowd a lot of energy I find we get it back tenfold, which is what makes the performances so fun.” Too true, boys, too true. Northwestern also boasts 10 other a cappella groups, and you can see F15 and Asterik in one night at their annual joint show. That’s right—testosterone runs wild in crazy between-song skits that have the members threatening to kill one another (with plastic knives) for the right to rule the show, but ultimately coming together to entertain a bunch of buzzed college kids with their hyperactive energy and smooth voices.
4. Yeshiva University
The men of Yeshiva reinvent Jewish music with their viral group The Maccabeats. Formed in 2007, this group only consists of graduate students, but just think, if you study for those extra few years, Jewish musical icons like Matisyahu can open for you. “We’ve had the same core group for about seven years, so we’ve developed a really great synergy over the years,” group director Julian Horowitz said. The Maccabeats strike a chord with fans with their traditional Jewish songs such as “Purim Song” and “Candelight” (a Hanukkah song), but also incorporate Hebrew into covers of songs like “Hey Brother” by Avicii and add religious stories to their performances of songs like “One Day More” from Les Misérables. President Obama even thanked them for their work during Jewish American Heritage Month in May 2011, and the group has racked up more than 20 million views on YouTube. Mazel tov!
3. Brandeis University
Brandeis makes the cut for its all-bro group VoiceMale (Get it—like voicemail?). Bring your grandma and your best friend because this group sings hits from “Love Yourself” by Justin Bieber to the country/Christian hit “God Gave Me You.” “I remember spending days at our music director’s house, surviving off of chicken sandwiches, chips and Madden NFL 2002 while we recorded our most recent EP,” President Kaelan Lynch said. The EP Take Your Pick came out in 2014 and featured covers of “oldies” like “Hollywood’s Not America” by Ferras and “Here Comes Goodbye” by Rascal Flatts, putting an emotional pop/soul twist on the songs. And if these guys want to study music, Brandeis offers a new scholarship for active musicians, along with focuses like cultural studies, music history and musical theater performance.
2. Berklee College of Music
Remember back when you couldn’t avoid heated battles between Backstreet Boys and NSYNC fans? Well, Berklee presents a similar problem (if you could even call it a problem). This school pulls double duty with its two all-male groups, the CharlieChords and YChromotones. Although both of the groups only popped up in the last few years, the CharlieChords have already made it big by singing at a Boston Celtics game. While fans know the CharlieChords for their smooth soulful sound, you can find the YChromotones creating mashups of all your favorite music from Taylor Swift to Disney hits. Group members might have an advantage because their entire school devotes itself to studying music, which might explain the CharlieChords’ ability to create a hyperactive harmonic arrangement for “What Does the Fox Say?” or the YChromotones’ power to bring the audience to tears by singing “When She Loved Me” from Toy Story 2 (originally sung by a doll, if you didn’t know).
1. Dartmouth College
The Dartmouth Aires truly embody a cappella with their many CARA (Contemporary A Cappella Recording Awards) and Varsity Vocals awards. The group was runner-up to world-famous Pentatonix on NBC’s The Sing-Off in 2011. “While we take our music seriously, we don’t take ourselves seriously,” Business Manager David Clossey said. The group members take time to dress the part along with perfecting their vocals. “Sometimes we wear zany jackets and clothes that have been passed down from older members to younger ones. Some of our jackets go all the way back to Ort Hicks, who founded the group in 1946,” Clossey said. Wow, the brotherhood of a frat without the hazing? Sounds pretty ideal, especially with that extra bonding they get to experience during their worldwide spring tours to places like China, Aruba, Italy, France and Costa Rica. They even take advantage of the six-week interim period with nationwide tours venturing from Texas to California to New England. The school also has open study abroad music programs and plenty of private lessons and opportunities to perform. Awards, academics, culture and bonding: truly the complete a cappella experience.