CD Review: Ben Folds Presents — University A Capella!

BenFoldsUniversity Ben Folds Presents:
University A Cappella!
Epic

By Al Kaufman

Leave it to Ben Folds to make geek chic.

A cappella music has been the butt of jokes on everything from The Office to Scrubs. But Ben Folds, who is not adverse to meeting cheese head on (the guy produced a William Shatner CD for crying out loud) decided it was just the format he wanted to use to make his greatest hits album.

Folds sent out an announcement and received over 250 entries from university a cappella groups across the country. He poured over them and ended up with his favorite 14. He went out and recorded each group live, with six area mikes.

What is apparent from the beginning, when the Spartones start harmonizing "No, no, no" for "Not the Same," is this is not a novelty record. These are great singers with fantastic arrangements of magnificent pop songs.

Folds' biggest hits, such as "Brick" and "Army" are not necessarily the strongest interpretations here, but the University of Georgia's Someone Else's Money offer one of the strongest tracks with "You Don't Know Me."

Folds himself gets in on the act, covering both "Boxing" (from 1995) and 2008's "Effington." In both cases, as with many of the other tracks on this album, the songs are so musical that it's easy to forget that no instruments were involved.

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