October 21st, 2011
Ben Folds is something to everyone. Surprisingly, he’s best known to most as the judge on NBC’s a cappella singing talent competition show, The Sing-Off. But for the last 20 years or so he has been one of the most reliable and lovable singer-songwriters to ever pick up a… grand piano. Originally viewed as a smart-assed incarnation of Billy Joel, Folds broke ground in the mid-’90s band Ben Folds Five, and went on to a successful solo career as well as a one-off collaboration with um, William Shatner called Fear of Pop.
This month sees the release of The Best Imitation of Myself: A Retrospective, a three-disc compilation collecting some of his best songs as well as three brand new tracks with Robert Sledge and Darren Jessee as Ben Folds Five, who are now officially back together.
Here are six reasons to love Ben:
1. Ben Folds Five. People only seem to reference the 1997 tear-stained ballad “Brick” whenever they speak his old trio’s name, but the Five released three equally brilliant albums over their seven-year tenure: Ben Folds Five, Whatever and Ever Amen and The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner. Also worth checking out is the 1998 collection of outtakes called Naked Baby Photos.
2. In 2009, Ben released an album titled Ben Folds Presents University A Cappella, which featured some of the best a cappella vocal groups across America. It was because of this that the scored The Sing-Off gig.
4. He covered Dr. Dre’s “Bitches Ain’t Shit” deadpan. As a soft rock ballad. It’s so great that it even charted on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2005.
5. In 2010, some guy by the name of Merton posted a video of him singing ad-libbed lyrics about the random people that popped up on Chat Roulette. Many people believed it to be Ben Folds. It wasn’t. But during a concert at the Fillmore in Charlotte, North Carolina on March 20th, Ben paid tribute to Merton by performing the same stunt. (The best moment comes in at the 3:30 mark when he finds “Bam” sitting on the toilet.)
6. He was a member of The Bens – an all Ben supergroup consisting of Folds, Ben Lee and Ben Kweller. While they never recorded a proper album, the concept alone made them legendary.Tweet