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In 2006, Ben Folds released a cover of Dr. Dre’s “Bitches Ain’t Shit.”  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.  But with the announcement of Folds’ 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!  The album features Ben Folds tunes performed vocally, without instrumentals by a cappella groups from various universities (and one super lucky high school).  According to Folds’ website, the man himself personally viewed over 200 audition videos before selecting the album’s final line-up.  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.  The video auditions are presumably a good indication of what we can expect to hear on University A Cappella!  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.  The piano chords are replaced by vocal harmonies with seemingly little effort, creating a predictably ominous effect.  The completed album seems likely to stand as a demonstration of Folds’ strength as a composer. 

The track list (below) runs the gamut of a prolific song-writing career, featuring renditions of tracks from both Ben Folds Five and Folds’ more recent solo period.  The song selections range from hits (like “Brick” and “Army”) to lesser-known fan favorites (like “Evaporated” and “Selfless, Cold, and Composed”).  In addition to fourteen tracks featuring vocal groups, Folds leaves the piano behind to personally perform two tunes, “Effington” and “Boxing,” all by his lonesome.

 No instruments allowed:
1. “Not the Same” – The Sparetones (North Carolina at Greensboro)
2.  “Jesusland” – Loreleis (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
3. “Brick” – Leading Tones (Ohio University)
4. “You Don’t Know Me” – With Someone Else’s Money (University of Georgia)
5. “Still Fighting It” – Mosaic Whispers (Washington University, St. Louis)
6. “Boxing” – Ben Folds
7. “Selfless, Cold, and Composed” – The Jazz Singers (Sacramento State)
8. “Magic” – Voices in Your Head (University of Chicago)
9. “Landed” – Colorado University Buffoons
10. “Time” – Nassoons (Princeton)
11. “Effington” – Ben Folds
12. “Evaporated” – The Newtones (Newton High School, Boston)
13. “Fred Jones, part 2” – Gracenotes (West Chester University of Pennsylvania)
14. “Army” – Midnight Ramblers (University of Rochester)
15. “Fair” – The Fifth Element (University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire)
16. “The Luckiest” – The Amateurs (Washington University, St. Louis)

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