Bubbling Over With Glee

Tufts’ Beelzebubs have had another banner year, lending their vocal arrangements to the hit Fox show "Glee."
Beelzebubs
The Beelzebubs have kept themselves busy, including this performance on campus earlier in the spring. Photo: Matthew Healey
May 17, 2011

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When the Beelzebubs finished second on NBC’s The Sing-Off in 2009, members of Tufts’ oldest all-male a cappella group could not have foreseen a return to prime time.

But Hollywood came calling again—literally. An L.A. area code lit up the phone of the group’s business manager, Evan Powell, A12, during class last fall. He dutifully waited until after class to return the call, from an executive producer of the hit Fox show Glee. They wanted the Bubs to arrange a song for an upcoming episode.

The song—Katy Perry’s "Teenage Dream"—would eventually grab the number-one spot on the iTunes download charts, logging 55,000 downloads on its first day of release. Soon the Beelzebubs were providing the voices of the Dalton Academy Warblers, an all-male singing group on Glee.

The one song grew into a dozen, all of which are featured on the album Glee Presents the Warblers, which debuted at number two on the iTunes music chart when it was released on April 19.

“It’s been a wild ride,” says Powell. This year also saw the Bubs perform at a White House holiday reception in December, sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" at a spring training baseball game in Florida and fly to Alaska and Hawaii for private performances. That’s on top of a full schedule of campus performances at Homecoming, winter and spring concerts and their annual “Bubs in the Pub” concert on April 29.

Warble This Way

The Beelzebubs recorded their Glee tracks at Q Division Studios in Somerville, Mass.; Bubs alum Ed Boyer, A04, handled the arrangements.

When the Glee producers would ring up the Bubs with a Warblers track in mind, “we didn’t know how the song was going to be used on the show until we saw it along with everyone else,” says Powell. The Bubs also have yet to meet the actors who play the Warblers on TV, including Darren Criss (Blaine) and Chris Colfer (Kurt).

Two of the songs on the new Warblers album—Destiny Child’s "Bills, Bills, Bills" and Robin Thicke's "When I Get You Alone"—were previously arranged by the Bubs, in 2001 and 2007, respectively, Powell says.

“It was great to bring back those classic arrangements we’ve been listening to since we got into the group and did our versions of those,” he says.

The Bubs have their own album—the group’s 28th studio release in its 48-year history—due out this fall. They also released two of their own arrangements—"Right Round" and "Sweet Caroline," both of which were popularized on The Sing-Off—earlier this year on iTunes. All proceeds from the sales go to the Bubs Foundation, which gives grants to schools to start or sustain music programs.

While the members of the Bubs have sometimes had trouble actually catching episodes of Glee due to their busy schedules, they’re thrilled with the show’s success.

“It’s been getting more kids involved in singing, which is one of the goals of our group as well,” says Powell. “It’s become this cultural phenomenon, and we’re so pleased to be a part of it.”

Georgiana Cohen can be reached at georgiana.cohen@tufts.edu.