Thursday, March 4, 2010

90's Guilty Pleasures #56: Ben Folds Five "Brick" (1997)

The easy Elton/Joel comparisons only existed because he's a piano guy. The truth of the matter stands: Ben Folds was the only dude who knew how to do Joe Jackson just as well as Joe Jackson. Over the course of the Five's 3 albums, Ben turned out to be one of the only cases of 90's rock in which a songwriter's abilities matched his most obvious influence. For example, there's a Joe Jackson song called "Friday" that, if sung by Ben Folds, you'd never know it wasn't one of his songs. (There's another one called "It's Different For Girls" which almost surpasses this uncanny similarity.) And I think Joe Jackson was aware of this, because they collaborated when helping to put together William Shatner's last album.

So The Five's inevitable big single turned out to be "Brick," which was the song that BF5 ended up dreading. What makes "Brick" such an odd case, obviously, is the subject matter of the lyrics, which were pretty deep considering it was released as a single the same time that "Tubthumping" was the biggest song in the country. (For years I tried remembering to listen to "Brick" at 6AM on the day after Christmas, just for fun, but I ended up never being able to wake up that early, and then somewhere around December 29th I'd be like "damnit, I forgot again this year..") The fact that it was a ballad ended up turning off hard rock fans, which is why it's a guilty pleasure. Another band who suffered in a similar manner was The Verve Pipe with their one-hit "The Freshmen," which coincidentally has a similar sounding intro section to "Brick." Both were great bands who fell victim to having a sappy ballad as their one-hit-wonder. Such is life.


"The Freshmen"

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