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.This page Needs More Love.
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)
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.
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.
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:
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"
"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 vile 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.
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
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.
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!".
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".
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"
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.