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  • Ben Folds Five - Song For The Dumped
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  • Ben Folds Five - Battle Of Who Could Care Less
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Ben Folds

American singer-songwriter and pianist, founder of punk-rock-for-wussies band Ben Folds Five, known for arching, uplifting power pop.

Widely known for his prowess as a pianist, Ben Folds began his career in music as a drummer, and he is also adept at guitar and bass. Ben Folds is known as a solo artist and as the frontman and pianist of Ben Folds Five, celebrated for a compositional style and unique playing technique, combining elements of the 'singer/songwriter' genre, jazz, and power rock.

Indeed, Ben Folds' music evokes the essence of classic pop while adding an idiosyncratic infusion of energy and wit. Where many alternative bands of the '90s specialized in distorted teen-angst rock, the guitarless trio Ben Folds Five was a refreshing break from the norm, blowing audiences away with the powerful trio of Ben Folds on piano, Robert Sledge on bass and Darren Jessee on drums. Ben Folds Five put on a high energy, blistering live show, turning the band into a must-see live act.

The band was signed to an independent record label, resulting in their self-titled debut one year later. Quite a buzz was stirring for the band by the time their second album was issued through Epic.

Released in 1997, Whatever and Ever Amen was pure pop perfection, and introduced the ballad "Brick" that broke the band commercially selling over two million copies worldwide. 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. 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 lead-off single, "Army," showed that Folds' humorous approach hadn't dulled at all. Due to artistic differences, Ben Folds Five broke up in 2000, and the first Ben Folds solo album, Rockin' the Suburbs, was released in 2001, with Ben playing most of the instruments himself.

The album yielded the anthemic title hit and and more Ben Folds classics including "Annie Waits," "Zak and Sara," "Still Fighting It" and "The Luckiest." A year later he released a live album, the aptly titled Ben Folds Live and in 2005, his critically acclaimed solo album Songs for Silverman was released, which featured the Adult Top 40 hit "Landed." In 2006, Ben released supersunnyspeedgraphic, the lp – a compilation of tracks from his internet-only EPs, B-sides, one song from Over the Hedge and his seminal crowd favorite – an inspired cover of Dr. Dre's "b****es Ain't s***" – a bonafide hit that climbed to No.

71 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and became the No. 1 most-downloaded song in Europe in early 2007.

"It's my biggest hit," jokes Folds. 2008 saw the release of Ben's next solo studio album Way to Normal featuring the hit duet with Regina Spektor "You Don't Know Me." In early 2009, he remixed and remastered the tracks, and together with a disc of stems to the songs so fans could do their own remixes, he put out the double disc Stems and Seeds. He followed that up later that spring with a collection of his songs sung a cappella.

This record, Ben Folds Presents: University A Cappella! features thirteen university a cappella groups from across the United States as well as one high school group. Not to be outdone by the undergraduates, Folds recorded two of his own a cappella tracks: instrument-free versions of "Effington" (from his 2008 album Way to Normal) and "Boxing," which originally appeared on the 1995 self-titled Ben Folds Five album. Consistently touring, Ben Folds has earned a reputation for his wit, musicality and charismatic, energetic live shows and for his involvement in developing technologies and trends.

Ben was one of the earliest supporters of iTunes and received much attention for being one of the first artists to support and participate in Second Life, an internet-based virtual world. In 2009 Apple unveiled their new GarageBand Lessons series and included Ben Folds in their initial round of artist lessons.

He has been an early supporter of MySpace as well, being tapped in 2006 as their first artist to perform a live performance webcast on the portal (Ben Folds Live at Myspace), and then again in 2008 for their then brand new "Front to Back" program for which a seminal and influential artist performs his/her own classic album live in the album's original sequence in front of an audience. For this event and taping, Ben Folds reunited Ben Folds Five to perform their last album together, The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner, in their home state of North Carolina. Nonesuch Records released Lonely Avenue, Ben Folds' much-anticipated collaboration with author Nick Hornby, in September 2010. In 2011, Legacy Recordings released The Best Imitation of Myself: A Retrospective, the first deliberately considered overview of his music career (so far).

Folds would reunite with his former bandmates on that album, prompting a full-scale reunion of Ben Folds Five in 2012. As a solo artist and leader of Ben Folds Five, Ben Folds has sold more than 3 million records over the course of his recording career.

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INFLUENCERS

FOLLOWERS

DECADES ACTIVE

1980s, 1990s, 2000s, 2010s

MUSIC STYLES

Pop/Rock, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Contemporary Singer/Songwriter, Alternative Singer/Songwriter, Contemporary Pop/Rock
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