Ben Folds: Cynicism Meets Sweetness

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Friday's Pick

  • Song: "You Don't Know Me"
  • Artist: Ben Folds (featuring Regina Spektor)
  • CD: Way to Normal
  • Genre: Pop-Rock
Ben Folds 300

Ben Folds finds common ground with Regina Spektor in the raw, personal "You Don't Know Me." courtesy of Ben Folds hide caption

itoggle caption courtesy of Ben Folds

As cathartic piano prodigies, both Ben Folds and Regina Spektor know how to make listeners laugh and weep at the same time. So it should come as no surprise that they discover one other and meet on common ground in the raw, personal "You Don't Know Me."

Folds' cynicism and Spektor's unearthly sweetness make for a perfectly balanced, bitterly endearing requiem about finally giving up. In spite of the dueling vocals, the song presents just the masculine perspective of the failed relationship, defined especially by the lines, "If I'm the person that you think I am / Clueless chump you seem to think I am." The highly structured, quick-tempo piano melody also seems to belong purely to Folds.

Nevertheless, there's a tinge of welcome femininity to his typical angry-dumped-guy rant: Spektor's cascading vocals add crucial layers to the turmoil; she's the second fiddle that nonetheless completes the equation. It's enough to prompt questions about the true nature of compatibility, because these two seem to know each other better than their song declares.

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