Top 10 Ben Folds Five Songs

Ben Folds Five Albums

Our Top 10 Ben Folds Five Songs list presents the best Ben Folds Five songs including ” Brick,” “Underground,” “Army,” and many more. Growing up as the son of a carpenter in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Benjamin Folds first developed an interest in the piano after his father brought one home from his job as a form of payment he received from a customer. For the young Folds, he made good use of this musical instrument due to the inspiration he received from his favorite artists while growing up, Elton John and Billy Joel. As a teenager, he not only served as a pianist for the high school band but also as a bassist and drummer. This led him to earn a scholarship with the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music but his attendance was short-lived after losing that scholarship.

He returned to North Carolina, enrolling in the state’s Greensboro University in 1985. For Folds, this is where his journey to embarking on his music career began to pick up steam. While there, he met Robert Darnell, a man who would heavily influence Folds as he honed in on his piano technique, as well as his singer-songwriter style in the genre of alternative rock music.

In 1988, Ben Folds teamed up with friends to form a band known as Majosha that would win a Battle of the Bands contest at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. As a group, they also produced a series of recordings for the local audience before each of the band members went their separate ways. For Folds, he relocated to Nashville, Tennessee, in 1990, first becoming a sessions musician, before he took up acting in New Jersey. Three years later, he enjoyed acting in the theaters of New York City so much that he found himself debating between acting and music as a career choice. It would be during this time frame he met Jeff Buckley at New York’s cafe known as Sin-e before he moved back home to North Carolina.

Ben Folds Five Development

In 1993, Ben Folds returned to North Carolina after spending time in New York and New Jersey, he met with Darren Jessee and Robert Sledge. Together, they formed the trio known as Ben Folds Five, later recording and releasing their self-titled debut album in 1995. Two years later, Whatever and Ever Amen was released, then 1998’s compilation album, Naked Baby Photos. Ben Folds Five, as an album, became certified gold with the Recording Industry Association of Japan (RIAJ), thanks to the hugely popular “Get That Bug” dance remix that won over the Oriental music scene.

Whatever and Ever Amen was Ben Folds Five’s most successful album release of the four albums they recorded together. This very popular production became certified platinum in Japan, as well as by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), and the Australia Recording Industry Association (ARIA). This same album also became certified gold with Music Canada. Following behind this recording was 1999’s The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner. Unlike the first two albums, it did not earn any certifications and it served as the group’s final studio recording before each of the band members chose to part ways so they could embark on solo ventures.

Ben Folds Legacy

For approximately seven years, Ben Folds was the frontman of the Ben Folds Five. Then, from 2000 until 2010 he embarked on a solo career before the group met together again for a reunion tour. As a solo artist, he produced his first album, Rockin’ the Suburbs on September 11, 2001. This was the same day the terrorist attacks took down New York City’s Twin Towers, as well as put the entire world on notice of an enemy force that wanted to make such a profound political statement. Since then, he recorded and released two additional studio albums, three collaborative albums, two live albums, two video albums, and ten compilation albums. He also produced three extended plays (EPs) and has twenty-three singles to his credit as a solo artist

In addition to these accomplishments, he’s also worked with a variety of other musical artists, and even served as a judge for NBC’s The Sing-Off from 2009 until 2013. As of 2017, he has served as the National Symphony Orchestra’s first artistic advisor out of their Kennedy Center location in Washington, D.C.

Ben Folds Five Legacy

In 2005, Songs for Silverman was an album that saw the trio format that summed up Ben Folds Five feature in 1993 now feature Ben Folds, Jared Reynolds, and Lindsey Jamieson. However, this album was credited to Ben Folds as a solo artist and not to Ben Folds Five as a band. This album also featured collaborative work with “Weird Al” Yankovic whom Folds worked with as a solo artist previously.

Held at the University of North Carolina’s Memorial Hall in Chapel Hill, Ben Folds Five made a concert appearance in September 2008 as part of MySpace’s Front to Back series before officially reuniting in 2011 that would produce the band’s fourth studio album, The Sound of the Life of the Mind. It was released on September 18, 2012, the day after its first single, “Do It Anyway” was posted as a music video that was performed by the cast of the popular series, Fraggle Rock.

Overall, Ben Folds Five has four studio albums produced as a group, as well as two compilation albums, and a video album. Although 1998’s Naked Baby Photos has been slated as a live album among some biographical sites dedicated to Ben Folds Five, it’s technically a compilation album due to the mix of previous studio recordings and live performances. Live is the only real album that featured the band actually performing, song for song, before a live audience.

Top 10 Ben Folds Five Songs

#10 – Don’t Change Your Plans

From the album, The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner, “Don’t Change Your Plans” was a single that was released in 1999. Through “Don’t Change Your Plans,” fans were made privy to a fantastic song performed by a trio of extremely gifted musicians who were about to go their separate ways to embark on solo careers.

Originally, “Don’t Change Your Plans” was supposed to be an instrumental number but wound up manifesting into a pop song that should have become a hit on the music charts but somehow wasn’t. Still, it became a fan favorite and one of the musical masterpieces that demonstrated why Ben Folds Five earned the right to be called a world-class talent. This bittersweet, melancholic ballad of two lovers packed such an emotional punch that some fans have found it’s enough to give cause to reach for a tissue.

#9 – One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces

From the album, Whatever and Ever Amen, “One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces” was a cheeky number produced by Ben Folds Five as a musical message to doubters and nay-sayers. This rather comical rags to riches story saw this talented trio dangle their heights of success before the faces of all those who gave them little regard while they were still a bunch of nobodies. Designed to be comical, this has also served as a source of inspiration among like-minded individuals who have experienced something similar and have since looked back with their heads held up high and perhaps a tongue sticking out against all those who once made the same bad judgment calls against them.

#8 – Where’s Summer B.?

“Where’s Summer B.?” was the first single released from Ben Folds Five, the 1995 debut album produced by the band. It dealt with the realities of returning home, only to find nothing about it has changed, perhaps serving as a reminder of why one left it in the first place. In addition to making direct reference to the main character mentioned in the song’s title, there were additional names listed from Darren Jessee’s childhood past that summed up this trip down memory lane.

Through the eyes of Summer Burke, she returned to her hometown, hoping something exciting has happened during her time away. As events unfolded throughout the song, she learns this was not the case, seeming as if time stood still during her absence. As a group, Ben Folds Five credited Summer Burke as the source of influence that made the band so distinct as piano-rocking favorites that won over the hearts of fans worldwide.

#7 – Do It Anyway

In Japan, Ben Folds Five has remained a popular favorite since “Get That Bug” made its remixed version into the nation’s music scene. “Do It Anyway” became a number eighty-eight hit on the Billboard Japan Hot 100 list in 2012. For the group, this was their first hit to reach an official music chart since 1999. In 2000, they broke up as a band, then reunited in 2011 and recorded their fourth studio album, The Sound of the Life of the Mind. This is the same song that featured the voices behind the puppet series, Fraggle Rock, in the music video that appeared for the first time in September 2012.

#6 – Song for the Dumped

On the US Billboard Alternative Airplay chart, “Song for the Dumped” peaked at number twenty-three. On the ARIA Charts of Australia, it charted at number seventy-eight. This somewhat humorous song served as a song of relation for all the people who had their hearts broken by someone whom they thought loved them enough to not do such a thing. Released in 1998 from the widely successful album, Whatever and Ever Amen, it was the fifth single for Ben Folds Five to realize a hit on the official music charts.

#5 – Kate

“Kate” was a number thirty-nine hit on the UK Singles Chart after it was released in 1997 from the album, Whatever and Ever Amen. This was a song that was written by Ben Folds and his first wife, Anna Goodman, as well as bandmate Darren Jessee. At the time, the love Folds had for Goodman was so great that it was a song all about her and dedicated to her. Charming and cute, this song won over the hearts of romantics who could relate as someone having that special someone in their life with their own name that served as their version of the “Kate” that was so lovingly sung about.

#4 – Battle of Who Could Care Less

“Battle of Who Could Care Less” was a single released from the 1997 album, Whatever and Ever Amen. On the UK Singles Chart, it peaked at number twenty-six and was a hugely popular music video that was often featured on stations such as MTV and VH1. The lyrical tale of who is able to fight over matters that really don’t seem so important as a musical work of genius was due to the simplicity of the lyrics and the overall humor of the song’s subject matter.

#3 – Army

The popularity of 1999’s “Army” was so great that even after Ben Folds Five broke up as a group, it was still performed in concert by Ben Folds as a solo artist. The subject of dealing with conflicts that come with the freedom to decide and be independent as an adult. This included the narrator’s decision to enlist in the army, despite his father’s rather humorous objections. It became a hugely popular song among the fans and can easily rival “Brick” as an all-time fan favorite. What made “Army” so appealing was sharing a lighter look into a person’s decision to sign up to become a soldier which may have seemed like a good idea at the time.

#2 – Brick

As a single, “Brick” was the single that saw the best overall performance on the official music charts for Ben Folds Five as a band after it was released in 1997 from the album, Whatever and Ever Amen. This controversial song about abortion was based on the frontman’s relationship with his pregnant girlfriend while still in high school. When this song was written, there was no political intent behind it as it was simply a sharing of someone’s personal experience about this sensitive subject matter.

Despite the considerable amount of airplay “Brick” received on several radio stations globally, the division among the fanbase became so intense that playing this song in concert became too conflictive to perform. Up to this point, Ben Folds Five was known for playing musical material that made amusing rock songs that used the piano to make them standout favorites. On the US Billboard Alternative Airplay chart, “Brick” peaked at number six and was a number eleven hit on the US Billboard Adult Top 40 Tracks. In Australia, it peaked at number thirteen, at number twelve hit in Canada, and a number twenty-six hit in the UK.

#1 – Underground

“Underground” served as a breakthrough hit for Ben Folds Five with the music scene belonging to Australia and the United Kingdom after it was released from the group’s self-titled album in 1995. On the UK Singles Chart, it peaked at number thirty-seven and became the third most popular song in Australia with its 1996 rundown of the Triple J Hottest 100.

This lyrical tale served as an anthem for self-proclaimed outcasts that don’t conform to the standard expectations dictated by the socially dominant members of society. For Ben Folds, it was a sharing of his personal experience who had trouble fitting in due to moving around so much as a child. Among fans who could relate, this became a cult favorite, thanks to how easy it would capture the attention of the audience and get them rallying for more. Although “Brick” fared better on the official charts upon release, “Underground” has so far proven to be that signature song Ben Folds Five is best known for.

Feature Photo: Kevin Tostado from San Diego, USA, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Top 10 Ben Folds Five Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2022

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