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Ben Folds Five

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Led by the pop-minded prowess of their namesake frontman, Ben Folds Five dispelled any misgivings about a band's ability to rock without guitars. Calling themselves "punk rock for sissies," the Chapel Hill natives were often grouped with the nerd rock movement of the mid-'90s, although their debt to jazz music -- not to mention Ben Folds' acerbic spin on the classic pianist/songwriter tradition -- ensured the trio a long-lasting legacy after their split in October 2000. The band also provided a launching pad for Folds himself, who continued releasing piano-based pop songs well into the subsequent years. The group's story is, in many ways, the story of its de facto leader and namesake, Ben Folds. The son of a carpenter, Folds was born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Upon graduating high school in the mid-'80s, the young songwriter drifted from place to place in hopes of discovering a good scene to sow his brainchild. Throughout a decade in which hair bands ruled the airwaves, Folds spent frustrating stints in Miami, Chapel Hill, New York, and Europe before landing in Nashville in the early '90s. In spite the fact that Nashville was a songwriter's mecca, or because of it, Folds found the city's approach to songwriting frustrating and exclusive. While producers and managers wanted obvious hits, Folds wanted, instead, to follow his own muse, and a notoriously eccentric one at that. When Folds finally drifted back to Chapel Hill in 1994 he formed a piano-based trio with bassist Robert Sledge and drummer Darren Jessee, and within weeks, the band cut an indie single that attracted the attention of Caroline. Their 1995 self-titled debut sold enough copies to warrant the kind of major-label bidding war that young bands fantasize about. Eventually signing with Sony, the group released Whatever and Ever Amen and continued the strenuous touring schedule that the band had become known for. Releasing the singles "Battle of Who Could Care Less" and "Brick" into a climate awash with soundalike guitar bands, Ben Folds Five and their witty, offbeat, piano-based music were a welcome difference and the group became critical and commercial darlings. Inevitable comparisons to piano composers of yore such as Todd Rundgren, Billy Joel, and Joe Jackson followed, but the group fought hard to maintain their individuality. Over the next two years, Ben Folds Five kept their name in the press by releasing songs on soundtracks, as well as an album of outtakes, B-sides, and early live appearances called Naked Baby Photos. In early 1999 they released their third full-length album, The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner. In November 2000, Ben Folds Five abruptly announced their split, shocking fans and the media. However, the trio quickly announced that they would be pursuing individual projects. Bassist Robert Sledge was going to put his own group together while balancing his tour efforts with former Squirrel Nut Zippers multi-instrumentalist Tom Maxwell's group the Minor Drag. Drummer Darren Jessee also went after similar opportunities, playing club shows around New York City. Ben Folds didn't stop either, for the singer/pianist contributed "Lonely Christmas Eve" for the Grinch soundtrack, as well as the cut called "Wandering" for the 2000 independent comedy 100 Girls, before releasing a string of successful solo albums. The group re-formed in 2011, contributing a new track to Folds' 18-track The Best Imitation of Myself: A Retrospective. They made it official the following year with the release of The Sound of the Life of the Mind, the band's fourth studio album, and first since 1999. ~ Steve Kurutz
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Stations Featuring
Ben Folds Five

    Breakup Songs

    Breakup Songs
    1 song

    Coffeehouse Corner

    Coffeehouse Corner
    1 song

    '90s Alternative

    '90s Alternative
    4 songs

Albums by
Ben Folds Five

Top Songs by
Ben Folds Five

  1.   Song
    Popularity
  2.   Song for the Dumped
  3.   Army
  4.   One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces
  5.   Brick
  6.   Battle of Who Could Care Less
  7.   Do It Anyway
  8.   Evaporated
  9.   Uncle Walter
  10.   Air
  11.   Draw a Crowd
  12.   Jackson Cannery
  13.   Alice Childress
  14.   Underground
  15.   Missing the War
  16.   Video Killed the Radio Star
  17.   Your Most Valuable Possession
  18.   Kate
  19.   For All the Pretty People
  20.   For Those of Ya'll Who Wear Fannie Packs
  21.   Narcolepsy
  22.   Smoke
  23.   Thank You for Breaking My Heart
  24.   Song for the Dumped
  25.   One Chord Blues/Billie's Bounce
  26.   Hold That Thought
  27.   Erase Me
  28.   Twin Falls
  29.   Selfless, Cold and Composed
  30.   Lullabye
  31.   Hospital Song
  32.   Boxing
  33.   Philosophy
  34.   Don't Change Your Plans
  35.   Satan Is My Master
  36.   Battle of Who Could Care Less
  37.   Selfless, Cold and Composed
  38.   Do It Anyway/Overture-Heaven on Their Minds
  39.   Away When You Were Here
  40.   On Being Frank
  41.   Sky High
  42.   Dick Holster
  43.   Eddie Walker
  44.   House
  45.   Steven's Last Night in Town
  46.   Regrets
  47.   Sports & Wine
  48.   Julianne
  49.   The Last Polka
  50.   Video
  51.   Barrytown
  52.   Steven's Last Night in Town
  53.   Fair
  54.   Tell Me What I Did
  55.   Landed
  56.   Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head
  57.   The Sound of the Life of the Mind
  58.   The Ultimate Sacrifice
  59.   Mitchell Lane
  60.   Your Redneck Past
  61.   Magic
  62.   Best Imitation of Myself
  63.   Tom & Mary
  64.   Where's Summer B.?
  65.   Leather Jacket
  66.   She Don't Use Jelly
  67.   Theme From Dr. Pyser
  68.   Tom and Mary
  69.   Missing the War
  70.   Bad Idea
  71.   Michael Praytor, Five Years Later
  72.   Emaline
  73.   Mess
  74.   Jane
  75.   Cigarette
  76.   For Those of Ya'll Who Wear Fannie Packs
  77.   Mitchell Lane
  78.   Hospital Song
  79.   Regrets
  80.   Rockin' The Suburbs
  81.   Song For the Damned
  82.   Get Your Hands Off My Woman
  83.   Kalamazoo
  84.   Adelaide
  85.   Rent a Cop
  86.   Them That Got*
  87.   Still Fighting It
  88.   Zak & Sara
  89.   In Between Days
  90.   Give Judy My Notice
  91.   Protection
  92.   Dog
  93.   Wandering
  94.   Dr. Pyser