ben folds top ten.

benfolds20112there are so many incredible options, that i feel like i ought to begin with a handful of tracks that didn’t quite make the top ten cut. in no particular order…

jackson cannery – ben folds five
alice childress – ben folds five
best imitation of myself – ben folds five
selfless, cold and composed – whatever and ever amen***
smoke – whatever and ever amen
battle of who could care less – whatever and ever amen***
losing lisa – rockin’ the suburbs
annie waits – rockin’ the suburbs***
you to thank – songs for silverman
get your hands off my woman – super d EP

dr. yang – way to normal***
a working day – lonely avenue
the sound of the life of the mind – the sound of the life of the mind

*** – denotes “first four out” (to use bracketology terminology)

10. narcolepsy, ben folds five – the unauthorized biography of reinhold messner
this song is way too hilarious to leave off the list which is why it comes in just ahead of these other tracks. sometimes ben’s humor can come off as childish and silly and it ruins the song, but this one he gets just right. the opening instrumental dupes you into thinking it’s going be a serious orchestral track. then the lyrics sound serious, but they’re NOT.

9. your dogs, ben folds & nick hornby – lonely avenue
for those of you who don’t know: nick hornby wrote “high fidelity”. so this album, as i understand it, is ben’s music with nick’s lyrics. it’s like the postal service only this ben is doesn’t suck. anyway, this track is all about how ben’s got this white trash neighbor who he claims he doesn’t judge but then basically does throughout the song. but we all do this right? it’s genius. and, as usual, when his social-consiousness sky rockets, so does ben’s humor.

8. erase me, ben folds five – the sound of the life of the mind
too soon? i wrestled including anything from this album due to it’s recent release, but this song is too great. besides, i have to celebrate the “five” reunion somehow, right? “erase me”…it’s a harsh divorce song that gets increasingly clever as the track progresses as ben comes up with different ways to explain how she “erased him” from her life. two interesting notes here: “option command escape” doesn’t actually erase anything. it just opens the “force quit” menu on OS X…also, on a sadder note, as of 2011, ben has been married and divorced 4 times now. so maybe i shouldn’t be celebrating this song afterall.

7. all you can eat, ben folds – sunny 16 EP
as a whole, i’m not estatic about the sunny 16, speed graphic and super d EPs (complied into the supersunnyspeedgraphic LP). it comes across as a hodge-podge of tracks that ben recorded in the mid-00s that never made it on to other albums. but there are some bright spots. specifically, “all you can eat”. the scene unfolds as an american dad pontificating to his son about the wealthy, greedy and overweight americans he sees around the restaurant where they’re eating. the line “god made us number one cause he loves us the best/but he should go bless someone else for a while and give us a rest” is one of my favorites in all of music.

6. mess, ben folds five – the unauthorized biography of reinhold messner
this song is gut-wrenching and i initially didn’t want to include it in my top ten simply because i didn’t want to have to write about it. ben has screwed up so many relationships that he’s decided to hide the parts of himself that are potentially messy in the future. he stuck alone in his mess of a life. the last verse is haunting – he images his life as an old house with abandoned dusty rooms. those are the parts of his life he’s going to guard in the future. and if that doesn’t seem lonely enough – the chorus admits that he doesn’t even believe that god is there. poor guy.

5. silver street, ben folds – ben folds live
apparently i really dig the depressing ben folds tracks because, once again, this song is pretty depressing. the neighborhood ben sings about here sounds like a ghost town. silver street is old and sad and dying. i picture a bunch of old men sitting on their porches watching the tumbleweeds roll through town. but really, this song is here because i’m a sucker for a gorgeous piano.

4. gone, ben folds – rockin the suburbs
in my opinion, this is the most underrated ben folds song there is. “rockin’ the suburbs” was the first album i really loved by ben. i used to drive my sister to school and listen to the first three tracks (annie waits, zak and sara, still fighting it) every day on the way. we’d never make it to track four, “gone”). then three out of the last four tracks are some of the most well known of all of his songs (not the same, rockin the suburbs, the luckiest). all those songs suddenly feel too mainstream to me, and it feels like there’s a shadow of popularity that i associate with them that makes me feel uneasy. but this song – this song is under played and undervalued.

3. one angry dwarf and 200 solumn faces, ben folds five – whatever and ever amen/ben folds live
i’m glad i didn’t go to elementary or middle school with ben because he’d probably hate me too. it’s like how when adele gets her heart broken, we all benefit because she sings songs about it…only with ben it’s getting made fun of as a kid. to whoever the o’doyle was that decided it’d be fun to call ben an angry elf – thank you. the angrier this dwarf gets, the better his musical responses are.

2. the last polka, ben folds five – ben folds five
this song has the most plays of any ben folds song in my itunes. there was a time (around 2005) when i discovered that the closer to BFF’s conception i got, the more i liked their music…which, now that i reflect on this list, is increasingly evident. also, if you know me well, you know that i’m a fantastic air pianist, and this is arguably the most fun anyone can ever have playing air piano.

1. lullabye, ben folds five – the unauthorized biography of reinhold messner
okay okay okay. i know you’re all thinking, “you just like that song because he mentions james earl jones.” and you may have a point actually. this song has a weird dream-like thing going on and it captivates me every time i hear it. the story ben is telling actually doesn’t seem very memorable to him. the facts are clearly a little mixed up – unless james earl jones was a family friend, it seems very unlikely that he was there. i wonder if this is one of ben’s earliest memories? the piano is mesmerizing and i could actually see myself singing a kid to sleep to this song someday. i can’t get enough…and the piano solo makes me head to this weird groovy swagger bob thing that probably looks awesome to all the other people in this coffee shop right now.


the daft punk commercial.

last weekend, during SNL, daft punk aired a 15-second commercial. they also updated their website and facebook page with simply a photo. this photo:

daft-punk-confirm-signing-with-columbia-1i wasn’t watching SNL when the commercial aired. ohhhh man i wish i had been. i would’ve freaked. absolutely bizonkers. i probably would’ve ended up running around my house like kevin mccallister in home alone. probably would’ve wet my pants a lot a bit also.

the commercial is an allusion to their upcoming album that is rumored to be dropping in may of this year.

ahem. excuse me.


the video was accompanied by a bit of a song that i’ve never heard before. it’s clearly DP, but since the commercial was so short, i wasn’t really able to get a terrific grasp of it. but some genius somewhere decided to loop the track for 10-minutes straight. i dare you to listen to it without bobbing your head. seriously. good luck.


haiku reviews – frank ocean. jack white. bruno mars.

how about some haiku reviews?! it’s been six months since i first did any of these. you can see the first set of haikus here. each album gets three things: a haiku, my top 3 fav songs, and a rating out of 5. this time around: frank ocean, jack white and bruno mars.


1. frank ocean – channel orange

cannot get enough
occasional stevie sounds
better than mumford

favorite tracks:
1. pyramids (one of my favorite songs to come out last year.)
2. monks (that bass line is way too killer.)
3. sweet life (easily could’ve been off “songs in the key of life”)
honorable mention: crack rock, super rich kids, pink matter, bad religion, thinkin bout you

rating: 5/5


2. jack white – blunderbuss

solo jack – meg who?
folksy here and rockin there
jack can do no wrong.

favorite tracks:
1. weep themselves to sleep (the piano here is way too good to ignore. easy favorite.)
2. love interruption (painful in moments. brilliantly harsh. plus ruby from the sing off does the harmonies, so that’s neat.)
3. freedom at 21 (classic jack white – crazy and awesome. destroyed everything at the grammys with this song.)
honorable mention: sixteen saltines, take me with you when you go, hypocritical kiss,

rating: 3.5/5


3. bruno mars – unorthodox jukebox

zero cohesion
way too many producers
mraz wants his hat back

favorite tracks – only tracks i like:
1. natalie (one of the two massive bright spots on this album. on constant repeat.)
2. treasure (the other bright spot. there’s something quicey jones-seque about the chorus here. love it)
3. money make her smile (okay so i lied. this song is pretty rad too.)
honorable mention: locked out of heaven (only because it’s mark ronson produced. it’s a distant third. like a police song only not as good.)

rating: 2/5

there you go. i can’t recommend channel orange enough. it might be my favorite album from last year (although, i doubt it would make the top 3 in 2013). absolutely preposterous that it lost out to mumford & sons for album of the year. blunderbuss is great too, but it’s not revolutionary. jack white is always awesome. unlike bruno mars, who is rarely awesome, but usually dumb.


hindsight will be 20/20 album review – part 2.

note: on monday i posted part 1 of this blog with some backstory and my factors for making these choices. i encourage you to read it first.

justin timberlake’s newest album, The 20/20 Experience, drops in a little over a month, but he has released the album art and track list already via twitter. so i thought it might be fun to create a pre-release album review based on zero knowledge of what the songs sound like, but educated guesses from these criteria…

1. track title
2. track list history of justified and future sex/love sounds
3. justin’s personal life
4. the single – “suit & tie”
5. two performances: he performed three songs (“suit & tie”, “pusher love girl” and “that girl”) at a super bowl show in new orleans last weekend. and his performance of “suit & tie” and “pusher love girl” at the grammys last night.

…so read this loud and clear: this is based on hunches and hopes and history. that’s it. here’s what his tracklist looks like:

1. Pusher Love Girl – on Justified, JT launched with one of my all-time favorites of his in Señorita. the FSLS opener was the album title track and felt like it served more as an introduction than it does an actual track. so this one would be pretty tough to target if it hadn’t just been performed at the grammys on sunday night. the live version was terrific, but something tells me the album version will be a lead-off homer. Favorite Odds: 6-1

2. Suit & Tie (feat. Jay-Z) – hmmmm. where do you project the pace horse? the single is great. the more i listen to it, the more i love it. the Jay-Z verse isn’t phenomenal, but that background has me bumping around like crazy. I certainly hope this is not the best track on the album – typically the single comes in third or fourth place in my mind. so i’ll project it there. Favorite Odds: 7-1

3. Don’t Hold the Wall – count on this: this track will be one of the worst on the album. why? because the three spot is just not justin timberlake’s baby. the initial reasoning is obvious: Sexy Ladies and (Oh No) What You Got – off of FSLS and Justified respectively – are two of the weakest tracks on both albums. but dug a little deeper, and you’ll discover something very very interesting…on all three of *NSYNC’s studio albums, Justin makes a strong appearance on tracks 1, 2 and 4, while track 3 is always a JC Chasez lead track. seriously. take a look at the track lists of Celebrity, No Strings Attached, and *NSYNC, and look for yourself! all that to say, the 3-spot has 16 year history of stinking. don’t expect that to change. Favorite Odds: 30-1

4. Strawberry Bubblegum – eww sickening. the word “bubblegum” is an immediate vomit-inducer for me ever since john mayer utilized the “bubblegum tongue” lyric in Your Body is a Wonderland. however, word aversions aside, it’s batting clean-up so it can’t be all bad. here’s to hoping JT can turn the aversion around. i’m confident, but not THAT confident. Favorite Odds: 10-1

5. Tunnel Vision – with the album title being eyesight related, that makes this track the only on-theme song on the entire record. couple that with the fact that it’s in the historically potent 5-spot (cry me a river & lovestoned), then you’ve got yourself a recipe for success brewing. Favorite Odds: 3-1

6. Spaceship Coupe – this is certainly the dark horse. the six spot holds some power (see: rock your body, what goes around…), but this title is like me going to the k-state/ku game in lawrence last night – high probability that it’s going to blow, but there’s an infinite ceiling if it’s a winner. also the addition blaster noises, robotic voices or melodic beep-boops will exponentially increase this song’s odds. Favorite Odds: 18-1

7. That Girl – this song is at minimum performance-ready, as it was one of three songs played at his new orleans show last weekend. that makes it a little more promising than usual, but its title and placement is very reminiscent of “damn girl” off FSLS. underwhelming. Favorite Odds: 15-1

8. Let the Groove Get In – the latter tracks are a bit of a mystery in terms of content usually, but make no mistake about this one: it’s got slow jam written all over it. turn down the metronome and dim the lights; this one has minimal shot at being my favorite, but will certainly land in the top half of the album. Favorite Odds: 8-1

9. Mirrors – this feels like a massive question mark. as mentioned on “let the groove get in”, the latter tracks are more of a mystery, and these placements always make me wonder if artists are trying to hide a weaker track here. Mirrors is a cool enough title, but i have no reason to give this song any real possibility. Favorite Odds: 23-1

10. Blue Ocean Floor – is this the third and final installment of “never again” and “all over again”? the placement at the end of the album leads us to believe it will be another outro with JT crooning at the piano. but the last two are certainly of the “you broke my heart” genre, and his new life as a Mr. Mary Camden could really toss a wrench in that trend. My bet: stylistically similar, but the content is drastically different. it’ll be beautiful, but not a favorite. Favorite Odds: 20-1

welp. that’s the tracklist and my odds on the potential winners and losers in the field. if you rank my ten in order of the odds i gave them you get…

5. Tunnel Vision (3-1)
1. Pusher Love Girl (6-1)
2. Suit & Tie (7-1)
8. Let the Groove Get In (8-1)
4. Strawberry Bubblegum (10-1)
7. That Girl (15-1)
6. Spaceship Coupe (18-1)
10. Blue Ocean Floor (20-1)
9. Mirrors (23-1)
3. Don’t Hold the Wall (30-1)

comments? criticisms? concerns? tharts?

the album drops in a little over a month, so you’ve got plenty of time to disagree and create your own pre-release favorites list. give it a shot. i dare you to do better.


hindsight will be 20/20 album review – part 1.

before i get into this, i have to acknowledge last night’s performance. JT absolutely killed it. i was maybe most shocked to see him own the stage so strongly alongside Jay-Z – who, btw, appeared bored and above the majority of last night’s proceedings. this blog isn’t about all that, but i have to at least mention it here. moving on.


SEVEN YEARS AGO – sometimes i like to think about this question: if you could only listen to music from one 18-month stretch, which would you choose? without doing any thinking or research, my initial answer is mid-2005 through late-2006. a short list why…

– future sex/love sounds, justin timberlake
– game theory, the roots
– late registration, kanye west
– kingdom come, jay-z
– back to black, amy winehouse
– demon days, gorillaz
– st. elsewhere, gnarls barkley

…however, none of these received as much hype in my life as the first one: justin timberlake’s future sex/love sounds. i was first in “line” to pick it up in manhattan the day it dropped. skipping my 9:05am tuesday class, i arrived at besy buy at 8:45am. sat in the car until 8:58, then got out and walked up to the door hoping an employee would see my anxious pacing, but they didn’t unlock them until 9:02. i was rather bothered by this because i was losing significant album digesting time. little did i know it would be seven blasted years before i got to experience another JT album.

so when the fanfare surrounding The 20/20 Experience began, i freaked. and when the release date was mentioned as 3/19/13, i freaked again. and when he released the track list last week, i freaked again. and then last night when he took the stage at the grammys, i freaked again.

within a month of picking up Future Sex/Love Sounds, i felt that i had enough of a grasp to put together a track-by-track blog on the album: you can read that here. i was young and silly back then. chances are, i’ll look back on this blog and find it young and silly someday too.

this year’s track-by-track blog will come a month BEFORE the album drops rather than after. what follows is a review based on five pieces of knowledge…

1. track title
2. track list history of justified and future sex/love sounds
3. justin’s personal life
4. the single – “suit & tie”
5. two performances: he performed three songs (“suit & tie”, “pusher love girl” and “that girl”) at a super bowl show in new orleans last weekend. and his performance of “suit & tie” and “pusher love girl” at the grammys last night.

these five bits of information will be what informs my upcoming “hindsight will be 20/20 review” which i will post later this week. in it, i will rank my favorite songs from 1-10 based purely on those five factors and give you my reasoning for each. maybe i’ll totally whiff on a major hit and expect a favorite when it’s a total bust. we’ll see. could be fun.

i encourage you to do it too. read the track names, and rank them based on what order you think you’ll love them in. it will feel like picking a racehorse for the kentucky derby, but i think it could be super fun to compare pre- and post- release lists.

for now, i leave you with JT’s handwritten tracklist he tweeted last week:

that’s it for now. check back in a couple days for my list.


four haiku reviews.

every year, september is a heavy music month. there’s probably some scientific formula that someone figured out in regards to releasing an album in september and its correlation with the album’s success…like the alignment of life, finances and award shows.

all that to say, i’ve picked up 4 albums in the last month – 3 of them released in the last 2 weeks. i don’t have the time to do full reviews on them, but i will do the following:
1. a haiku review
2. my three favorite songs (with a brief reason)
3. rating out of 5

here we go.

ben folds five
the sound of the life of the mind

release date: september 18

haiku review:
whether he’s solo
or reuniting with Five,
ben can do no wrong.

favorite tracks:
1. erase me (i love it when they cuss)
2. draw a crowd (childish? or absolute genius?)
3. the sound of the life of the mind (very reminiscent of old school bff)

rating: 5/5

kanye west presents…
g.o.o.d. music cruel summer

release date: september 14

haiku review:
who are these artists?
lame. save for a few moments.
still miss vintage ‘ye.

favorite tracks:
1. mercy (kick drum at 3:15 might just save the entire album)
2. to the world (good, but i can’t take r kelly seriously after “trapped in the closet”.)
3. bliss (i had to pick another song to round out the top 3…the eagle cry sold me here.)

rating: 2/5

justin bieber – believe
release date: june 15

haiku review:
a quick prediction:
justin is the next justin.
haters gonna hate

favorite tracks:
1. boyfriend (so say hello to falsetto in 3…2…)
2. take you (get me on the dance floor. i can’t handle it.)
3. maria (distorted matt lauer interview?! amazing.)

rating: 4/5

lupe fiasco
food and liquor II: the great american rap album

released: september 25

haiku review:
lupe means business,
like ‘lasers’ never happened
welcome back, prophet.

favorite tracks:
1. around my way (cause freedom ain’t free, especially ’round my way.)
2. battle scars (a hurting love song from lupe? surprising.)
3. audubon ballroom (lupe drops his two cents on the n-word.)

rating: 4.5/5