There is a case to be made that The Beelzebubs, the all-male collegiate power out of Tufts University, deserve to walk away as The Sing-Off’s big winner.
To start with, The Beelzebubs walked into this competition with the confidence of champions. That’s not to say that the guys are cocky or brazen. On the contrary, they’re one of the few groups that came on the show and seemed to have a very clear sense of just how good they were—and actually were very good. The ‘Bubs have long resisted participation in the ICCAs and other competitions. By all reports, one reason is so that they are not bound by competition schedules and can focus on their own endeavors, including touring and recording. The other reason, though, is that, as one of the preeminent groups in collegiate a cappella, they don’t feel that they have anything they need to prove in a competitive setting. One has to assume that the lure of competing on this national stage was enough to motivate the guys to step into this competition, and they have proven their case. They are more than good enough to compete, and were just waiting to pick their spot.
From the get-go, The ‘Bubs have offered up a stronger visual presentation than any other group on The Sing-Off. Many will argue that choreography has nothing to do with music, and to a large extent, this is true. When you’re trying to engage an audience, though, and particularly a nation of viewers, the bulk of whom are unlikely to have much technical knowledge in music, the way in which tell your story on stage can have a profound effect on how accessible and entertaining your group is. In considering who should win this competition, it’s important to consider that it’s a show designed for the masses, voted on by the masses, The ‘Bubs have gone a long way toward making themselves the people’s champions.
In addition to their wide appeal, The ‘Bubs have demonstrated tremendous creativity and prudence in song selection. With the exception of the song the judges picked for them, none of the songs the group picked for the show were really obvious. “Magical Mystery Tour,” while well-known, isn’t exactly one of The Beatles songs most prominent in the general public’s consciousness, and made for the off-beat choice of starting off the show with a song without a soloist. “Right Round” showcased their contemporary and fun style, and offered up musicality while rapping. “Come Sail Away” was big and ambitious, giving them an opportunity to belt, choreograph, and push the limits of the stage. The Who medley exposed them as guys with more than a cursory knowledge of classic rock, appealing to yet another segment of the audience. There were moments of brilliance for other groups—Nota’s “Stayin’ Alive,” MAXX Factor’s “Rehab”—but no other group was so consistently on point with its decision making as The ‘Bubs.
One advantage The ‘Bubs enjoyed in this competition was being able to pull on a deep catalog. As one of the ACB’s guest commentators noted, many of the songs they used were ones earlier incarnations of the group had previously recorded. Some might find this unfair—after all, how could a 12-week old group like Solo compete with the history of The Beelzebubs? On the contrary, though, a vote for The ‘Bubs is more than a vote for a bunch of college guys. It’s a vote for an organization that has been around for nearly 50 years. It’s a celebration of a cappella history—it’s evolution, and the ambition of this organization to perpetuate its standard of excellence and desire to innovate over that period of time. For all of these reasons, The ‘Bubs are undeniably worthy of high honors in this, a cappella’s most watched competition of all time.
I have now made the case for each of The Sing Off’s three finalist groups. Check back for my official endorsement for who should really emerge as the winners.