College A Capella Groups Breaking Tradition, Hearts

There are still plenty of blazers and bow ties, but glee clubs these are not.

Today's college a capella groups are trying hard to be less Urkel and more Usher.

"When people think of college a cappella, they think of tuxedos and old-school choral music, but it's much hipper and cooler than you remember," Mickey Rapkin, author of "Pitch Perfect," told "Good Morning America."

In the early '90s, there were only about 200 a capella groups, mostly in the Northeast, and now there are more than 1,200 groups from coast to coast.

"With the success of shows like American Idol and movies like High School Musical, there's really been a huge increase of people trying out for college a capella," Rapkin said.

For some, college a capella was far more than a hobby.

It was a launching pad for soul superstar John Legend back when he was John Stevens, singing in an a capella group at the University of Pennsylvania.

Anne Hathaway, Art Garfunkel and ABC's own Diane Sawyer are all a capella alums. Debra Messing and Brooke Shields, however, were a capella rejects.

"The cool thing about a capella is it gives you a chance to do something different with the song," a capella rocker Matt Thomas of Tuft University's Beelzebubs said. "You can take an old song and give it a different sound and a different feel. And even though they've heard it before, it's a different experience."

Brendan Mason, member of the University of Virginia's Hullabahoos, said that singing for an audience is an experience of its own.

"When the crowd goes wild during the concert, it definitely makes you feel like a rock star," he said. "And it's probably the most rock stardom any of us are ever going to get so we are living it up."

But Mason knows there's another motivation.

"Being in an a capella group certainly doesn't hurt with the ladies," he said candidly.