In 2006, Ben Folds released a cover of Dr. Dreâ€™s â€œBitches Ainâ€™t Shit.â€Â Fans of the eccentric piano man had a good laugh, assuming that his melodic take on the hip-hop classic was a good-natured, tongue-in-cheek spoof.Â But with the announcement of Foldsâ€™ newest project, the line between humorously ironic cover and serious attempt at bridging musical divides is suddenly not so clear.
On April 7, Epic Records will release Ben Folds Presents: University A Cappella!Â The album features Ben Folds tunes performed vocally, without instrumentals by a cappella groups from various universities (and one super lucky high school).Â According to Foldsâ€™ website, the man himself personally viewed over 200 audition videos before selecting the albumâ€™s final line-up.Â The former Ben Folds Five front-man even traveled the country to work with most of the vocal groups during the recording process.
As with everything else that happens on a college campus, many of the a cappella auditions are currently available for viewing on Youtube.Â The video auditions are presumably a good indication of what we can expect to hear on University A Cappella!Â As these performances demonstrate, and as Folds fans might expect, many of his songs hold up pretty well in the transition from piano-pop rock to glee club chorus.Â The piano chords are replaced by vocal harmonies with seemingly little effort, creating a predictably ominous effect.Â The completed album seems likely to stand as a demonstration of Foldsâ€™ strength as a composer.Â
The track list (below) runs the gamut of a prolific song-writing career, featuring renditions of tracks from both Ben Folds Five and Foldsâ€™ more recent solo period.Â The song selections range from hits (like â€œBrickâ€ and â€œArmyâ€) to lesser-known fan favorites (like â€œEvaporatedâ€ and â€œSelfless, Cold, and Composedâ€).Â In addition to fourteen tracks featuring vocal groups, Folds leaves the piano behind to personally perform two tunes, â€œEffingtonâ€ and â€œBoxing,â€ all by his lonesome.
Â No instruments allowed:
1.Â â€œNot the Sameâ€ – The Sparetones (North Carolina at Greensboro)
2.Â â€œJesuslandâ€ – Loreleis (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
3.Â â€œBrickâ€ – Leading Tones (Ohio University)
4.Â â€œYou Donâ€™t Know Meâ€ – With Someone Elseâ€™s Money (University of Georgia)
5.Â â€œStill Fighting Itâ€ – Mosaic Whispers (Washington University, St. Louis)
6.Â â€œBoxingâ€ – Ben Folds
7.Â â€œSelfless, Cold, and Composedâ€ – The Jazz Singers (Sacramento State)
8.Â â€œMagicâ€ – Voices in Your Head (University of Chicago)
9.Â â€œLandedâ€ – Colorado University Buffoons
10.Â â€œTimeâ€ – Nassoons (Princeton)
11.Â â€œEffingtonâ€ – Ben Folds
12.Â â€œEvaporatedâ€ – The Newtones (Newton High School, Boston)
13.Â â€œFred Jones, part 2â€ â€“ Gracenotes (West Chester University of Pennsylvania)
14.Â â€œArmyâ€ – Midnight Ramblers (University of Rochester)
15.Â â€œFairâ€ – The Fifth Element (University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire)
16.Â â€œThe Luckiestâ€ – The Amateurs (Washington University, St. Louis)