Monday, July 21, 2008

Which is the Way To Normal?

I've been seriously geeking out on Ben Folds recently. He's got a new album coming out at the end of September (Way To Normal), but last week, a leaked version of the album showed up on line.

The weird part is that while he's been performing versions of his new material in concert all year, the versions of those songs on this leak are totally different. Some of the tracks are almost certainly real, especially the Regina Spektor-backed track, You Don't Know Me. Others have the same titles as ones he's been performing (The Bitch Went Nuts, Free Coffee) but aren't the same songs that we’ve heard live. Still others are way out in left field and, while hilarious, are not necessarily album-worthy.

So what’s the deal with Way To Normal? My personal theory is that this is a glorious hoax designed to keep us guessing. I think we’ll see some of these on the real release, but the others are just happy little gems. I don’t think it’s out of character for a guy with a wicked sense of humor and a recording studio to put out “fake” tracks.

I’d link to the download, but cease and desist notices are flying, so it’s up to you to track it down if you’re interested.


  1. If I remember correctly, something similar happened with Songs for Silverman where there was crazy meowing over all the songs. I think it was released as "Songs for Goldfish" or something like that.

  2. No, not with Song for Silverman. Songs for Goldfish was an actual release. it was a Guster album that came out with all lyrics being dubbed over with meows. Old news. The album, as I have it, is in my opinion the real thing. Which is somewhat unfortunate. The whole reason for playing new songs out is to get an idea of how they will be liked. So, after the changes to the live versions, I believe this might be the real thing. It sounds very Ben, and if you take the quotes from the PASTE interview... they all match up.

  3. I'm standing by my original theory that most of the songs on the leaked W2N are not going to show up on the real release. NME posted a track listing that seems to back me up:

    ‘Hiroshima (B B B Benny Hits His Head)’
    ‘Dr. Yang’
    ‘The Frown’
    ‘You Don’t Know Me’ (featuring Regina Spektor)
    ‘Before Cologne’
    ‘Errant Dog’
    ‘Free Coffee’
    ‘Bitch Went Nuts’
    ‘Kylie from Connecticut’

    Neither Effington or Kylie are in the leaked version, but he's been playing Effington at nearly every show this year. I've seen Kylie performed twice, and it's beautiful, so it has to be on the real release.

    The live version of Free Coffee sounds nothing like the leaked version, and I love the live version. Same goes for The Bitch Went Nuts - the live version is crazy funny.

    Also, I think we have some definitive proof that the version of The Bitch Went Nuts that's on this leak is not what will appear on the real version.

    From the PASTE interview:

    Paste: In that vein, did you have any concerns about fans interpreting the track "Bitch Went Nuts" as a cheeky backhand to your ex-wife Frally?
    Folds: Oh, no. I mean I would be worried that it would be interpreted that way. But I would have never written something like that or used that word for someone specific. If there's a specific person in that, it's only the basketball-stabbing person, who was someone who stabbed a volleyball belonging to a friend of mine in college. And the idea behind the song—and I think it's in the intro of the song—is that if you ask loads of women what went wrong in a relationship, they're going to give you a variety of answers. But if you ask men, especially at a bar somewhere, and they're gonna go "Uh! Bitch went nuts!" It's really more of a comment on the male perspective than it is on a…yeah, no one ever stabbed a basketball and uh, I would never call someone that I know a “bitch,” so there you go.

    The leaked version doesn't have the basketball stabbing line, or the intro, so unless he's lying to PASTE, which I doubt, we've got a totally different song here.