Steamboat Springs At some point, pianist, singer and music producer Ben Folds realized his pithy pop songs are like crack to college students. The trend, he found, was particularly strong with a booming number of campus a cappella groups who were rearranging and re-recording his tracks.
"Ben Folds Presents: University A Cappella" is a collection of 15 songs, culled from a call for submissions of live a cappella performances via YouTube.
The Ohio University Leading Tones contribute a strong rendition of the Ben Folds Five single "Brick," with a lead vocal performance that could make any Folds fan feel like they haven't heard this song 7,000 times. The group also adds a little R&B breakdown bridge, which comes off significantly less cheesy than it sounds.
The Mosaic Whispers, from Washington University in St. Louis, lend a stirring, well-balanced version of the semi-depressing coming-of-age story "Still Fighting It." "The Luckiest" becomes a musical theater ballad under another Washington University group, and "Magic" sounds like a Philip Glass variation when performed by The University of Chicago's Voices in Your Head.
"University A Cappella" has more variety - and vastly better singing - than the standard Ben Folds record, and it has more consistency than the standard student group CD. If you like Ben Folds or a cappella, this compilation will be a fresh way to listen to them. If you don't, this compilation will be maddening and should be skipped.
Rating: 2.5 stars