Ben Folds’ A Capella Odyssey

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  • on June 30, 2009
  • Filed in: Music

So last night I was poking around on Youtube looking for something to tuck me in and I stumbled accross this well-shot, clinic 15-minute documentary. Ben Folds Presents: Unviersity A Cappella!.

I’m no aficionado but I do enjoy A Capella quite a bit. I think my appreciation comes from living with a guy in college who was in a group that proved just how awesome the form could be by attracting huge crowds for their free outdoor performances and busting out songs by unlikely groups like Radiohead and yes, Ben Folds. Here is a quote from Mr. Fold’s site:

Do not underestimate the genre. These vocal bands tour the country. They’ve performed on The Late Show With David Letterman, on Saturday Night Live, on The West Wing. They record albums (some costing upwards of $30,000 to produce). And in unbelievably large numbers, they’re covering the songs of Ben Folds.

Aside from tapping into a creative base that embraces his music, I think that what Ben Folds has done here is an awesome direction for the music/video relationship. As someone who shoots a fair amount of music related video (i.e. I’m always in deep thought trying to hatch new projects that are neither 1) run of the mill or 2) gimmicky. By taking the reins he’s achieved a grand scope, maintained quality control and provided a built-in story. And if you’ve ever been a music writer you probably relate to that – having a story keeps things colorful, and helps you from infusing too much snarky, self-important, music-writery prose to carry your writing.

And it’s working. Some of the publications that’ve picked up this story: The Wall Street Journal, Entertainment Weekly, NPR Music, Baltimore Sun (lots more) and most likely the college publications of every group involved. So my hat’s off to you Mr. Folds – a classy move indeed. I’d love to see more video projects such as this one, focusing confidently on an artist-centric catalog. The album is available now.

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