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Ben Folds

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Bio

Singer/pianist Ben Folds (born September 12, 1966, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina) is best known as the leader of the power pop trio Ben Folds Five, but has also struck out on his own as a solo artist. Despite playing in bands in high school, his musical career didn't really get off the ground until the late '80s, as a bassist for Majosha (the outfit issued such obscure releases as Party Night: Five Songs About Jesus and Shut Up and Listen to Majosha). Proving his multi-instrumental talents, Folds also played drums as a session musician in Nashville. After relocating to New York, Folds started acting again (he'd previously done some theater in high school) and signed a publishing deal with Sony Music. Moving back to North Carolina, in 1994 Folds formed Ben Folds Five, a trio that also included bassist Robert Sledge and drummer Darren Jessee. Whereas most alternative bands of the '90s specialized in distorted teen-angst rock, the guitarless trio was a refreshing break from the norm, its sound akin to such past power popsters as Todd Rundgren, Jellyfish, and early Joe Jackson, and such piano-driven artists as Billy Joel and early Elton John. But like punk bands, Ben Folds Five put on a high-energy, blistering live show. The band was signed to the independent Caroline Records shortly afterward, resulting in its self-titled debut one year later. Due to airings of the humorous anthem "Underground" (which poked fun at the politics of the punk/alternative scene) on MTV's 120 Minutes) and constant touring, quite a buzz was stirring for the band by the time of its second album. Released in 1997, Whatever and Ever Amen was pure pop perfection -- easily one of the year's best releases and perhaps the best power pop release of the '90s. The band's songwriting and sound had improved even further, as evidenced by such gems as "One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces," "Fair," "Kate," and "Battle of Who Could Care Less," plus their whimsical tribute to breakups, "Song for the Dumped." But it was the ballad "Brick" that broke the band commercially -- unlike the majority of Ben Folds Five's material, which was upbeat, the song contained melancholic music and vocals, as the lyrics told the story of a teenage couple who decides to get an abortion (it has been speculated that the tale was autobiographical for Folds). The single didn't hit until several months after the album was released, which meant that the band stayed on the road for well over a year, playing with such notables as Dave Matthews, Beck, and as part of the 1997 H.O.R.D.E. festival -- earning Whatever platinum status. While 1998 didn't see a new studio album by the band, Ben Folds Five's former label issued a 16-track rarities collection (Naked Baby Photos) as Folds released his first solo album, Volume 1, under the pseudonym Fear of Pop. Although the album went largely unnoticed, it included the song "In Love," which included overly dramatic vocals from none other than Captain Kirk himself, William Shatner (comparable in approach to Shatner's must-hear 1968 album, The Transformed Man) and which was performed on The Conan O'Brien Show shortly after the album's release. Ben Folds Five regrouped with 1999's The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner, which was a more mature work than its predecessors, although the energetic leadoff single, "Army," showed that Folds' humorous approach hadn't dulled at all. Folds officially went solo again in 2001 with Rockin' the Suburbs. A series of EPs followed, with the new long-player Songs for Silverman dropping in 2005. He released Supersunnyspeedgraphic: The LP in 2006, followed by the full-length Way to Normal in 2008. In 2009 Folds contributed two songs to University A Cappella!, a collection of covers of some of Folds' best tracks by various university groups. Lonely Avenue, a collaboration with British novelist/essayist Nick Hornby (High Fidelity, About a Boy), arrived in 2010, followed by the 18-track Retrospective: The Best Imitation of Myself 1995-2011, which represented Folds' first U.S. career overview. The compilation included a new song with the original Ben Folds Five, who re-formed the following year and released their fourth studio album, The Sound of the Life of the Mind, followed by Ben Folds Five Live in 2013. In 2015, Folds released So There, an eight-track collection of chamber pop originals that he recorded with New York City-based classical sextet yMusic. The album also included a performance of his “Concerto for Piano and Orchestra,” with the Nashville Symphony. ~ Greg Prato
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Albums by
Ben Folds

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    9 songs

    On Air

    Songs for Goldfish (Live)

    11 songs

    On Air

    So There

    16 songs

    On Air

    Vault Volume I (1992-1997)

    17 songs

    On Air

    Vault Volume II (1998-2003)

    19 songs

    On Air

    Vault Volume III (2004-2011)

    13 songs

    On Air

    The Best Imitation Of Myself: A Retrospective

    16 songs

    On Air

    University A Cappella!

    12 songs

    On Air

    Way to Normal

    12 songs

    On Air

    Songs for Silverman [Vinyl]

    11 songs

    On Air

    Songs for Silverman [CD & DVD]

    12 songs

    On Air

    Rockin' the Suburbs

    11 songs

    On Air

    Fear of Pop, Vol. 1

    65 songs

    On Air

    The Best Imitation of Myself: A Retrospective [Expanded Edition]

    1 song

    On Air

    Landed (Strings Version)

    1 song

    On Air

    Landed

    1 song

    On Air

    You Don't Know Me

    12 songs

    On Air

    Supersunnyspeedgraphic: The LP

    5 songs

    On Air

    Super D

    5 songs

    On Air

    Sunny 16

    5 songs

    On Air

    Speed Graphic

    17 songs

    On Air

    Ben Folds Live

    12 songs

    On Air

    Songs For Silverman

    12 songs

    On Air

    Rockin The Suburbs

    35 songs

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    Original Album Classics

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Top Songs by
Ben Folds

  1.   Song
    Popularity
  2.   You Don't Know Me by Regina Spektor
  3.   Brick
  4.   Annie Waits
  5.   Still Fighting It
  6.   Zak and Sara
  7.   Landed
  8.   The Luckiest
  9.   Rockin' the Suburbs
  10.   In Between Days
  11.   Golden Slumbers
  12.   Bizarre Christmas Incident
  13.   Gone
  14.   Not the Same
  15.   Phone in a Pool
  16.   Just Pretend
  17.   Dog
  18.   There's Always Someone Cooler Than You
  19.   The Ascent of Stan
  20.   Before Cologne
  21.   Underground by Ben Folds Five
  22.   Kylie from Connecticut
  23.   Effington
  24.   Cologne
  25.   Trusted
  26. See All Songs

Stations & Shows Featuring
Ben Folds

    On Air

    Slacker 20: Dog Days

    On Air

    Slacker 20: Oh Baby!

    On Air

    A Great Big World: I Am The DJ

    On Air

    Cast of Nashville: I Am The DJ

    On Air

    Adult Alternative

    On Air

    Covered: The Beatles

    On Air

    Broken Heart

    On Air

    Hipster Holiday

    On Air

    David Nail: I Am The DJ

    On Air

    Alternative Deep Dive

    On Air

    Bonnaroo 2015

    On Air

    Music To Watch the Grass Grow

    On Air

    Beatles: DNA

    On Air

    '90s Alternative

    On Air

    Eclectic Holiday

    On Air

    Alt. Country

    On Air

    Indie Coffee House

    On Air

    Joni Mitchell: DNA

    On Air

    '90s Hits

    On Air

    Eclectic Rock

    On Air

    The Current

    On Air

    Soft Rock


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Ben Folds

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