Way to Normal

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Way to Normal
Studio album by Ben Folds
Released Japan 17 September 2008
Australia 27 September 2008
European Union 29 September 2008
United States Canada 30 September 2008
Recorded Ben Folds' Recording Studio,
Nashville, TN
Genre Alternative rock
Label Epic
Producer Dennis Herring
Ben Folds chronology
Supersunnyspeedgraphic, the LP
Way to Normal
Stems and Seeds
Alternative cover
Cover for the fake leak version of the album
Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic (62/100)[1]
Review scores
Source Rating
AbsolutePunk 56%[2]
Allmusic 3/5 stars[3]
The Austin Chronicle 3/5 stars[4]
The A.V. Club C+[5]
Drowned in Sound (8/10)[6]
Entertainment Weekly B+[7]
musicOMH 4/5 stars[8]
Paste 8.9/10[9]
The Phoenix 1.5/4 stars[10]
Pitchfork Media 2.7/10[11]
PopMatters 8/10 stars[12]
Rolling Stone 2.5/5 stars[13]
Spin (6/10)[14]
Uncut 3/5 stars[1]

Way to Normal is a 2008 studio album by Ben Folds. It was released on 30 September 2008 in the United States and on 29 September 2008 in the United Kingdom.[15][16][17] The album is Folds' highest-charting album ever in the US, reaching #11 on the Billboard 200 in its first week of release.[18]

A music video for "You Don't Know Me" was directed by Eric Wareheim, featuring Eric himself and his comedy partner Tim Heidecker.

In 2009, Folds re-released the album in less compressed audio quality as Stems and Seeds, adding various bonus tracks and providing "stems" for fans to create their own remixes.

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Ben Folds. 

Way to Normal
No. Title Length
1. "Hiroshima (B B B Benny Hit His Head)"   3:38
2. "Dr. Yang"   2:30
3. "The Frown Song"   3:38
4. "You Don't Know Me (feat. Regina Spektor)"   3:12
5. "Before Cologne"   0:54
6. "Cologne"   5:03
7. "Errant Dog"   2:24
8. "Free Coffee"   3:08
9. "Bitch Went Nuts" (length includes a 52-second pregap) 3:58
10. "Brainwascht"   3:49
11. "Effington"   3:33
12. "Kylie from Connecticut"   4:43
Japanese bonus tracks
No. Title Length
1. "Way to Normal"   4:10
2. "Free Coffee Town"   2:42
3. "Frowne Song (Feeble Anthem)"   3:50
4. "Cologne" (piano orchestra version) 6:08


  • Ben Folds: piano, Moog synthesizer, Wurlitzer, mellotron, vocal
  • Jared Reynolds: electric bass, backup vocal (holding coffee cup on album cover)
  • Sam Smith: drums, backup vocal (holding umbrella on album cover)
  • Dennis Herring: drums on "You Don't Know Me"
  • Regina Spektor: vocals on "You Don't Know Me"

Production notes[edit]

The album is named after Normal, Illinois as referenced in the track "Effington". "Effington" refers to Effingham, Illinois.[19]

The song "Hiroshima" is about a time when Folds fell off the stage during a concert in Hiroshima. The subtitle "B B B Benny Hit His Head" is also a reference to the Elton John song Bennie and the Jets. John says "B B B Bennie" during the main chorus, which Hiroshima's subtitle mimics. Both songs share a fake audience in the background, as well as having a similar melody with different timing.

The metallic percussive effect on "Free Coffee" was achieved by placing Altoids tins on top of the piano strings and feeding the audio output through a distortion pedal; Folds demonstrated this in live performances of the song.[20] (See prepared piano)

"Dr. Yang" was used in the trailer for the 2011 film, Mars Needs Moms.

"Before Cologne" was used for the introduction of the iPhone 4S, and was later used in a commercial for the Honda Accord in 2015.

Fake leak[edit]

On 16 July 2008, an anonymous user posted what they claimed was a "leak" of Folds's latest album on two fan sites. The file contained nine tracks along with a PDF of supposed cover art, and was a mix of what appeared to be legitimate songs from Way to Normal and bizarre pastiches of foul-mouthed humour and melodramatic pop. Accordingly, the online forums became full of debate as to which were real and which were fake until 12 August 2008 when Folds admitted on Triple J radio that many songs in the leak were fake. [21] He claimed that he and the band recorded fake versions of songs from the new album when they "had a night to kill in Dublin", and had a friend leak it to the public "to give them something to listen to".[22] After confirming that the leaked Brainwascht, The Frown Song and Free Coffee Town were fake, he stated that they will be used as B-sides and bonus tracks on upcoming releases. A few days later, in a Rolling Stone article, Folds discussed the differences between the real album cuts and the fake leak cuts.[23] The "long way to go" coda of the "fake" track "Way to Normal" was later adapted into "Long Way to Go", a song on Folds' 2015 album, So There.

Leak track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Ben Folds. 

Way to Normal (fake leak)
No. Title Length
1. "Brainwashed"   3:36
2. "Way to Normal"   4:10
3. "Lovesick Diagnostician (Dr. Yang)"   2:53
4. "Free Coffee Town"   2:42
5. "Bitch Went Nutz"   3:53
6. "Frowne Song (Feeble Anthem)"   3:50
7. "Cologne" (piano orchestra version) 6:07
8. "Hiroshima"   3:38
9. "You Don't Know Me" (featuring Regina Spektor) 3:10
  • - Real version of song featured on main album[23]
  • "Cologne" (piano orchestra version) is a bonus track on the iTunes version of the album. "Bitch Went Nutz" was available to those who pre-ordered the album.



Year Chart Position
2008 US Albums Chart 11[18]
2008 UK Albums Chart 70


  1. ^ a b "Critic Reviews for Way To Normal". Metacritic. Retrieved 2013-04-06. 
  2. ^ adrianhughes (2008-11-22). "Ben Folds - Way to Normal - Album Review". AbsolutePunk. Retrieved 2012-03-14. 
  3. ^ Way to Normal at AllMusic
  4. ^ Caligiuri, Jim (2008-10-24). "Ben Folds: Way to Normal (Epic)". The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved 2013-04-06. 
  5. ^ Phipps, Kevin (2008-09-29). "Ben Folds: Way To Normal". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 2013-04-06. 
  6. ^ Beanland, Chris (2008-09-26). "Ben Folds - Way To Normal / Releases / Releases // Drowned In Sound". Drowned in Sound. Retrieved 2012-03-14. 
  7. ^ Spier, Ben (2008-10-03). "Way to Normal Review". Entertainment Weekly. 
  8. ^ Murphy, John (2008-09-29). "Ben Folds - Way To Normal". musicOMH. Retrieved 2013-04-06. 
  9. ^ Borzyczkowski, Ralph (2008-09-29). "Ben Folds: Way To Normal :: Music :: Reviews :: Paste". Paste. Retrieved 2012-03-14. 
  10. ^ Lundy, Zeth (2008-09-23). "Ben Folds: Way To Normal". The Phoenix. Retrieved 2013-04-06. 
  11. ^ Currin, Grayson (2008-10-28). "Ben Folds: Way to Normal | Album Reviews". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 2012-03-14. 
  12. ^ Schiller, Mike (2008-09-30). "Ben Folds: Way to Normal". PopMatters. Retrieved 2013-04-06. 
  13. ^ Rosen, Jody (2008-10-02). "Ben Folds: Way To Normal : Music Reviews". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 2008-10-05. Retrieved 2013-04-06. 
  14. ^ Zimmerman, Shannon (2008-09-30). "Ben Folds, 'Way to Normal' (Epic)". Spin. Retrieved 2013-04-06. 
  15. ^ "the original Ben Folds website - 'Way To Normal' UK Release Date: 29th September". theSuburbs.org.uk. 2008-08-01. Retrieved 2012-03-14. 
  16. ^ [1] Archived May 14, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  17. ^ "Muziek | Myspace Music". Imeem.com. Retrieved 2012-03-14. 
  18. ^ a b "T.I. Debuts Big Atop Billboard 200, Hot 100". Billboard.com. Retrieved 2012-03-14. 
  19. ^ Charlie Amter (21 October 2008). "Small town Mayor to Ben Folds: We will bury you". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2009-09-15. 
  20. ^ Ackerman, Jack (2009-02-12). "Nassoons join Ben Folds onstage at McCarter - The Daily Princetonian". Retrieved 2009-03-18. 
  21. ^ "Ben Folds Interview". Triple J. 2008-08-12. Retrieved 2008-08-24. 
  22. ^ Triple J Radio "12 August 2008 Triple J Interview With Ben Folds". thesuburbs.org.uk. 2008-08-12.
  23. ^ a b Downs, David (August 13, 2008). "Why I Leaked It: Ben Folds Comes Clean About His Fake (And Real) New Album, "Way To Normal"". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2008-11-29. 

External links[edit]