Songs of Scotland once emerged strictly from within the lungs of bagpipers and choir singers. Traditions honoured since the days of Braveheart, these haunting melodies soundtracked ceilidhs and chapels, reeling balls and reunions. It was not until 2004 that a new voice joined the cacophony of “Amazing Grace” and “Jerusalem,” a voice tinged with an American spirit, yet unquestionably British in heart and soul. This is the story of The Other Guys.
Preceded only by Oxford and Cambridge, The Other Guys would quickly establish St Andrews as the United Kingdom’s leading force in all-male a cappella. Within a year of their formation, the group had crossed the Atlantic for their inaugural international tour along the east-most coast of the United States. Likely in reference to the resulting critical acclaim and unparalleled rise in popularity, TOG would go on to name their debut album Indecent Exposure.
Two albums and countless awards later, the group released “Royal Romance,” a bittersweet congratulations sung amidst the scenery that Wills and Kate once called home. Having already garnered praise throughout the UK, TOG suddenly achieved the universal recognition that they enjoy today. From India to Australia, the world witnessed Scotland’s very own sons paying tribute to the soon-to-be married royal couple. At over 900,000 views on YouTube, the music video remains a local favourite and a TOG milestone, having catapulted the nine boys onto the a cappella A-list.
The success of 2011 heralded a new era for The Other Guys, one characterised by an increased public presence and by significant donations to charity. Alongside St Salvatore’s Quad and the Byre Theatre, TOG now graced the stages of the Savoy and the Dorchester, consistently matching the level of quality seen in their initial video. Their success would spur the creation of numerous a cappella groups across the United Kingdom.
Much to the excitement of their growing fanbase, TOG announced that a second music video would be released in mid-2012. A love letter to the town and its female inhabitants, “St Andrews Girls” cemented TOG as St Andrean icons. Few students would deny having attempted their own version of that lighthearted rap, and witnessing a live performance is considered a rite of passage for recently matriculated freshers.
In their current iteration, The Other Guys have continued to foster their esteemed reputation. Several more charity music videos have been released, notably 2015’s arrangement of “It’s Raining Men“, itself a callback to the days of “St Andrews Girls.” 2016 then opened on a strong note: a tour of North America that took the boys from Los Angeles to New York to Toronto, with many more cities in between.
A welcome (and fortunately frequent) sight at St Andrews events, TOG is now preparing to embark on their thirteenth year of groundbreaking work in the field of a cappella. As in previous years, open auditions will be held within the first weeks of term, providing any musically-inclined males with the opportunity to contribute to The Other Guys’ legacy.
Anyone interested in a visual preview can see the boys perform at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe this August or take a look at last year’s auditions promo: