The Late Movies: Collegiate A Cappella

College students have been forming a cappella groups since at least the late 1800s, with the Rensselyrics of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute being the oldest known group. (They started out as the RPI Glee Club in 1873.) Women's collegiate groups, though, weren't formed until 1936. (Smith College's Smiffenpoofs were the first.)

Today, college a cappella groups are increasingly popular—Northwestern University has at least 15—and usually known for their fun renditions of classics and current hits. The videos below are just a small sampling of the many collegiate a cappella groups across the country—and the world.

The Rensselyrics

Formed in 1873, RPI's Rensselyrics is the oldest known college a cappella group. Here they're performing Feist's "1234."

The Whiffenpoofs

Yale's Whiffenpoofs is the longest continuously performing college a cappella group. Cole Porter was a member in 1913. Here they're performing "Haven't Met You Yet" by Michael Bublé.

The Smiffenpoofs

The Smiffenpoofs formed in 1936 at Smith College after some Smith students were inspired by a Whiffenpoofs performance; they chose a similar name in honor of Yale's group. Here they perform The Beatles' "Because."

The V8s

Mount Holyoke College's Victory Eights, or V8s, founded in 1942, is the longest continuously performing all-female college a cappella group. Here they perform "Come On Eileen," the Dexys Midnight Runners hit.

The Beelzebubs

Tufts University's oldest a cappella group is The Beelzebubs, an all-male group that formed in 1962. Here they perform Styx's "Come Sail Away."

The Amalgamates

The Amalgamates is the oldest co-ed a cappella group at Tufts University; they've released 11 albums since their formation in 1984. Here they perform Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance."

Straight No Chaser

Straight No Chaser formed as a student a cappella group at Indiana University in 1996. After a recording of one of their 1998 performances went viral in 2006, the original members landed a record deal. Today, the original members perform and record as Straight No Chaser, while the university's a cappella group performs and records as Indiana Unviersity's Straight No Chaser. Here the original members sing Solomon Linda's "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" in a 1998 school performance.


Redefined is a co-ed a cappella group at University of Wisconsin-Madison known for their "Nintendo Medley." This performance of the medley is from their 2009 spring show.

Out of the Blue

Out of the Blue is an all-male a cappella group at the University of Oxford, although membership is not limited to Oxford students. Here they perform Queen's "Fat Bottomed Girls." (Look out for the "Harry Potter" at the 00:39 mark.)

Rhythm and Jews

Rhythm and Jews is the University of Chicago's Jewish a cappella group. Here they perform "Schneinu B'Yachad," a variation of The Turtles' "So Happy Together.

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Australian Charity Releases Album of Cat-Themed Ballads to Promote Feline Welfare
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An Australian animal charity is helping save the nation’s kitties one torch song at a time, releasing a feline-focused musical album that educates pet owners about how to properly care for their cats.

Around 35,000 cats end up in pounds, shelters, and rescue programs every year in the Australian state of New South Wales, according to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA). Microchipping and fixing cats, along with keeping closer tabs on them, could help reduce this number. To get this message out, the RSPCA’s New South Wales chapter created Cat Ballads: Music To Improve The Lives Of Cats.

The five-track recording is campy and fur-filled, with titles like "Desex Me Before I Do Something Crazy" and "Meow Meow." But songs like “I Need You” might tug the heartstrings of ailurophiles with lyrics like “I guess that’s goodbye then/but you’ve done this before/the window's wide open/and so’s the back door/you might think I’m independent/but you’d be wrong.” There's also a special version of the song that's specifically designed for cats’ ears, featuring purring, bird tweets, and other feline-friendly noises.

Together, the tunes remind us how vulnerable our kitties really are, and provide a timely reminder for cat owners to be responsible parents to their furry friends.

“The Cat Ballads campaign coincides with kitten season, which is when our shelters receive a significantly higher number of unwanted kittens as the seasons change,” Dr. Jade Norris, a veterinary scientist with the RSPCA, tells Mental Floss. “Desexing cats is a critical strategy to reduce unwanted kittens.”

Listen to a song from Cat Ballads below, and visit the project’s website for the full rundown.

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ABBA Is Going on Tour—As Holograms
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AFP/Stringer/Getty Images

Missed your chance to watch ABBA perform live at the peak of their popularity? You’re in luck: Fans will soon be able to see the group in concert in all their chart-topping, 1970s glory—or rather, they’ll be able to see their holograms. As Mashable reports, a virtual version of the Swedish pop band is getting ready to go on tour.

ABBA split up in 1982, and the band hasn't been on tour since. (Though they did get together for a surprise reunion performance in 2016.) All four members of ABBA are still alive, but apparently not up for reentering the concert circuit when they can earn money on a holographic tour from the comfort of their homes.

The musicians of ABBA have already had the necessary measurements taken to bring their digital selves to life. The final holograms will resemble the band in the late 1970s, with their images projected in front of physical performers. Part of the show will be played live, but the main vocals will be lifted from original ABBA records and recordings of their 1977 Australian tour.

ABBA won’t be the first musical act to perform via hologram. Tupac Shakur, Michael Jackson, and Dean Martin have all been revived using the technology, but this may be one of the first times computerized avatars are standing in for big-name performers who are still around. ABBA super-fans will find out if “SOS” still sounds as catchy from the mouths of holograms when the tour launches in 2019.

[h/t Mashable]


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