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Music: Ben Folds
Benjamin Scott Folds is an American singer and songwriter from North Carolina. Until 1998, he was the frontman for Ben Folds Five (alongside Robert Sledge on bass and Darren Jessee on drums), a piano-rock band that released three full albums to moderate critical success. The band broke up for unknown reasons, but judging from interviews and the fact that they had a reunion concert, it didn't seem to be a bitter break-up. After 2000, he began a reasonably successful solo career. In addition, he produced Has Been, a surprisingly well-regarded album by William Shatner. His album Lonely Avenue was a collaboration with Nick Hornby writing the lyrics.

In 2006, he wrote the songs for the film Over the Hedge. He also supplied Red is Blue to Hoodwinked.

In 2009, Folds began judging on The Sing Off, an NBC a capella contest. He's frequently cited as the most competent judge on the panel.

In early 2012, Folds announced the reunion of his original band, as well as a brand new album to be released in September of that year. As soon as a donation website was put up to help fund the album, the band made enough money to make at least three more albums, meaning we'll be seeing a lot more Ben Folds Five in the coming years.

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Discography

Ben Folds Five
  • Ben Folds Five (1995)
  • Whatever and Ever Amen (1997)
  • Naked Baby Photos (1998) (general mish-mash of odd songs left over from old albums, etc.)
  • The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner (1999)
  • The Sound of the Life of the Mind (2012)

Ben Folds
  • Rockin' the Suburbs (2001)
  • Songs for Silverman (2005)
  • Way to Normal (2008)
  • Lonely Avenue (2010)

Tropography

  • A Cappella: After hearing a collegiate a cappella group cover his song "Brick", he subsequently got the idea to release a compilation album of his songs covered by collegiate a cappella groups. This also sparked his interest in a cappella music and the reason he's a judge on The Sing Off.
  • Album Title Drop: Rockin' the Suburbs had a single of the same name.
    • Lonely Avenue is also title dropped in the chorus in "Doc Pomus".
    • And Way to Normal's title is dropped in "Effington".
    • "Whatever and Ever Amen" is quoted in "The Battle of Who Could Care Less".
    • The compilation album The Best Imitation of Myself includes the song of the same name.
    • The Sound of the Life of the Mind includes a song with the same name.
  • Anti Christmas Song: "Bizarre Christmas Incident" is about Santa dying while stuck in the chimney naked.
  • Artificial Limbs: According to the narrator of "Dr. Yang", he has plastic knees.
  • Atomic F-Bomb: From "Rockin the Suburbs,"
    It gets me real pissed off, makes me wanna say,
    It gets me real pissed off, makes me wanna say,
    It gets me real pissed off, makes me wanna say,
    FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK!
  • Audience Participation Song: He has a lot:
    • Whether solo or with Ben Folds Five, he encourages the audience to perform the horn solo in "Army".
    • In "Song For The Dumped," he typically insists that the audience sings lines such as "fuck you too!"
    • "Rock This Bitch," which, if requested enough by the crowd (and if he's in the mood), he'll improvise a song on the spot around the titular lyrics.
    • "Underground" has a spoken opening, wherein the first line is said by Darren: "I was never cool in school, I'm sure you don't remember me." In live shows, this line gets a crowd response of, "Who the fuck are you?!"
      • Taken from the live version off of Naked Baby Photos. It was recorded in their hometown, and a friend of theirs yelled it, and the mics picked it up. Now it's a staple of the song live.
  • Beardness Protection Program: Referenced in "Effington"
    I could change my name, grow a beard, start a family.
  • Bowdlerise: Ben rewrote the lyrics to "Rockin' The Suburbs" to be more family-friendly for the Over The Hedge soundtrack.
  • Breakup Song: A few - "The Last Polka" is probably the first, and "Song For The Dumped" is probably the most well-known.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Parodied in Rockin' the Suburbs.
    You better look out, 'cause I'm gonna say "fuck"
    You better look out, 'cause I'm gonna say "fuck"
    You better look out, 'cause I'm gonna say "fuck"
    You better look out, 'cause I'm gonna say "fuck"
    You better look out, 'cause I'm gonna say "fuck"
    • Played straight, if slightly downplayed, in the chorus of Levi Johnston's Blues To quote:
    I'm a fuckin' redneck, I live to hang out with the boys,
    Play some hockey, do some fishin', and shoot some moose.
    I like to shoot the shit, do some chillin' I guess.
    You fuck with me and I kick your ass.
    • The chorus is actually taken from an infamous MySpace posting from Johnston.
    • Also parodied in "Effington" where every instance of what you's expect is replaced with "effing".
  • Country Matters: Near the start of "The Bitch Went Nuts".
  • Creator Cameo: In Ben's music video for "Rockin' The Suburbs" by "Weird Al" Yankovic, who helped make the video.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: In "From Above". Not only that, they basically never knew each other existed.
    • Also on "Annie Waits". The titular Annie always waits on her unnamed signficant other to come back from work/wherever, and she's getting tired of waiting. The singer, meanwhile, pines for her and hopes that when Annie finally leaves her significant other, she'll be with him instead. But at the end of the song he sings:
    Headlights crest the hill
    Who will be the one for evermore?
    (ooh ooh) Annie, I could be
    If we're both still lonely when we're old
    Annie waits for the last time
    Just the same as the last time
    Annie waits
    But not for me
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: One of his side projects is a group called The Bens, which consists of him and two other guys named Ben.
  • Foiler Footage: His band rerecorded alternate lyrics for all the songs on the Way to Normal album and leaked the "fake" versions on the internet.
  • Foreign Cuss Word: Inverted. In the "Song for the Dumped" music video, Folds sings an entire verse and refrain in Japanese until he gets to "You bitch," which he sings in English.
  • Gratuitous Japanese: Ben sings an entire verse and a refrain in the "Song for the Dumped" music video, save for the last two words (you bitch!).
  • Grief Song: "Carrying Cathy"
  • Happy Marriage Charade: What "You To Thank" is about.
  • Hidden Track: Parodied, of all things, on Whatever And Ever Amen: "I've got your hidden track... Ben Folds is a fucking asshole!"
  • Hypocritical Humor: "Uncle Walter". Uncle Walter warns the singer not to smoke pot, with "tobacco juice rolling down his chin".
  • Insistent Terminology: "Zak and Sara" has Sara-with-no-H and Zak-without-a-C.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In the sublimely silly "Draw a Crowd", "Now when pretty phrases don't mean nothing / And I wanna sell 'em, I sing the line again / So smooth, you can hear the beard / So smooth, you can hear the beard / Three times is poetry / So smooth, you can hear the beard"
  • Lonely Piano Piece: Since the piano is Ben's primary instrument, these naturally come up.
  • Loony Fan: "Saskia Hamilton shows shades of this.
    I've only ever seen her name on a spine,
    But that's enough, I want to make her mine!
  • Lyrical Dissonance: Oh, he is a master at this.
    • "Carrying Cathy" is a fairly upbeat, light song about a mentally ill girl committing suicide.
    • "Still Fighting" is a very melancholy song celebrating the birth of Ben's twins.
    • "You Don't Know Me" is a cheery song about a couple who barely know each other and can't figure out why they stay together.
    • "All U Can Eat" is a upbeat, bubbly song about the deterioration of society.
    • "From Above" is an energetic and extremely catchy song. It's also about people never knowing their soul-mates and (presumably) either dying alone or unhappy.
    • "Zak and Sara" is a 50's style rock and roll ballad about a schizophrenic and a drug dealer.
    • "Jesusland" is a rather upbeat tune about the Second Coming of Christ and Jesus becoming disgusted the people who believe in him.
    • His cover of "Bitches Ain't Shit". That is all.
    • "Hiroshima" is an energetic song about him attempting to dive into a crowd in, of course, Hiroshima, only for he crowd to not understand and let him fall. He got a concussion. And bled on the keyboard. This is based off a true story. Depending on how dark you like it, It could double as a Crowning Moment of Funny.
    • "Password" is a crooning, mellow song about a jealous boyfriend hacking into his ex-girlfriend's email account, only to find out she's been cheating on him this whole time.
    • "Steven's Last Night In Town" is about a self-important asshole... done as a klezmer song.
    • "You to Thank" is probably the happiest song you'll ever hear about marrying too soon and being trapped in a loveless marriage.
    • "Fair" is a peppy tune about terrible things that happened to people in bad relationships, indcluding a man being hit and killed by his wife's car and another committing suicide in front of a huge crowd because his girlfriend broke up with him. But hey, all is fair in love!
    • "Hiro's Song" is another peppy song about an elderly, egocentric, and overall Jerkass man who left his family to date with his secretary, who's so young that she went to school with his daughter.
    • "The Secret Life of Morgan Davis" starts as a jazzy song abut an older man's boring life as a stockbroker, but quickly turns into a jazzy song about his risque life as a drug-dealer. Sample lyrics:
    He wants the lights, the jazz
    A piece of ass,
    A toothless bitch who'll blow him for a vial of crack!
    He cooks his junk in some Gatorade,
    And scores a bag of chronic on the East MLK!
  • Metaphorgotten: "Errant Dog" starts out as a song about someone who lost her dog, continues with dragging him to court and ends up with her wishing she could become a lesbian.
  • Muppet Cameo: The Fraggles show up in the video of "Do it Anyway."
  • Non-Indicative Name: Ben Folds Five only had three members in it, an inversion of One Extra Member.
  • Old Man Conversation Song: Parodied in "Uncle Walter". The named uncle is crazy and talks about riding through the sky in his magical armchair and cooking up a mail order scheme with his son, among other things.
  • Precision F-Strike: "The Battle of Who Could Care Less", "Rockin' The Suburbs", among others
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: "Best Imitation of Myself" includes the following lyric:
    ''The 'problem with you' speech you gave me was fine
    I liked the theories about my little stage
    And I swore I was listening but I started drifting
    Around the part about me acting my age''
  • Saying Sound Effects Out Loud: An instance of sorts occurs in "Effington" where the narrator very crudely scats the "theme song" to Effington by going da-da-da a couple times.
  • Serial Spouse: Ben has been married four times.
  • Shameless Self-Promoter: In Rocking the Suburbs:
    Y'all don't know what it's like
    Being male, middle class, and white.
    It's a bitch if you don't believe.
    Listen up to my new CD!
  • Shout-Out: Ode to Merton
    • Several in Rocking the Suburbs, including Michael Jackson, Quiet Riot, and Jon Bon Jovi.
    • "Not The Same" mentions Ben Folds Five bassist Robert Sledge. As does "Rubber Sled" by Ben Folds' side project Fear Of Pop, sort of: The song initially sounds like it's based around a repeated sample of Ben Folds yelling "rubber sled!", but just once he lets the voice clip go on long enough to reveal that it's actually "Robert Sledge on the bass guitar!".
    • From "The Battle Of Who Could Care Less": "See, I got your old ID, and you're all dressed up like The Cure."
    • Songs for Silverman was supposed to be named for Ben Folds' A&R representative Ben Goldman, because Ben Folds was frequently sending him his demos for the album. The record label nixed the title, so "Goldman" became "Silverman". Related is the online-only Silverman bonus album Songs for Goldfish.
  • Singing Simlish: He very briefly scats in "Effington". See Saying Sound Effects Out Loud above. A couple of Ben Folds Five songs also have this - "Steven's Last Night In Town" has a scatted bridge, while the chorus of "Fair" consists entirely of "Ba ba ba".
  • Single Stanza Song: "Cigarette"
  • Small Name, Big Ego: The basis for There's Always Someone Cooler Than You
  • The Something Song: "The Frown Song"
  • Spell My Name with an S: "Zak and Sara" (The song constantly insists it's spelled without a "C" or an "H," respectively)
  • Studio Chatter: Prevalent throughout Whatever And Ever Amen. The Speed Graphic EP version of "Dog" (not to be confused with "Errant Dog") ends with Ben taking a cellphone call from his then-wife during the instrumental outro, eventually telling her "We're doin' a vocal track. Um, you're all over it now".
  • Take That: "Rockin' the Suburbs" is a direct Take That to Korn after they called out Ben Folds Five for not being a heavy rock band in Spin Magazine.
    "I'm rockin' the suburbs!
    Just like Michael Jackson did!
    I'm rockin' the suburbs!
    Except that he was talented!
    I'm rockin' the suburbs!
    I take the checks and face the facts
    That some producer with computers
    Fixes all my shitty tracks!"
    • From his album Lonely Avenue, the song A Working Day is a highly sarcastic Take That to an internet critic.
    Some guy on the 'net thinks I suck, and he should know-
    He's got his own blog!
    [...]
    I'm a loser, and a poser!
    It's over, it's over!
    I mean it and I quit!
    Everything I write is shit!
  • Take That Me: Present in "Army," which was based on a conversation Ben had with his dad (quoted at the beginning of the song) and parodying his early years.
    • "Rockin The Suburbs" - He lists his producer in the liner notes as "Shitty Track Fixer," a reference to a line from the song.
  • Teasing Creator: "Uncle Walter." When asked if the song was about a real person, Ben and the band would make up outrageous stories.
    If there's a God, he is laughing at us and our football team.
  • The Villain Sucks Song: There's Always Someone Cooler Than You Well, it's more of a "The Guy the Song is Directed to is an Asshole" Song, but the feeling's still there.
  • Throw It In: During the recording of "Steven's Last Night in Town", Ben's phone rang. It was such perfect timing, coming right between the crescendo and final line, that the band left it in, as well as guitarist Robert Sledge's laugh.

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alternative title(s): Ben Folds; Ben Folds Five
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