Call it the revenge of the nerds. Or, maybe it was just inevitable. Those of us who graduated high school within the past decade remember the hardcore Ben Folds fans, and they weren't the dudes in the rock bands; they were the guys and gals comprising the choir and that clique forever known, for better or worse, as band geeks. When there was a talent show, these were the people creatively reminding everyone that, hey, Ben Folds is much more than his 1996 alt-radio hit "Brick." "It does make sense," Folds says from his home in Nashville. "They've got a lot to work with, with my stuff, because I've spent time dotting the I's and crossing the T's. The voice leading is correct. All the stuff in place, I think, makes it easier to sink your teeth into if you're someone who's a like-minded nerd."
And so now, we're presented with an odd but kind of charming and weirdly natural collaboration between a major-label recording artist and his fans—not other bands or signed artists, just the everyday people who appreciate him most. In this case, one high school and 13 university a cappella groups throwing their voices into Ben Folds Presents: University A Cappella!, a project Folds himself spearheaded and oversaw.