Song of the Day #3,226: ‘I Should’ve Known’ – Aimee Mann vs. Ben Folds Five

OK, here’s the first matchup in Round One of Montauk Madness that hit me right in the gut: Aimee Mann vs. Ben Folds Five.

Why hurt me like this, oh musical gods, by pitting two of my all-time favorite artists against each other in what should be the easiest round?

I discovered both of these acts right around the same time, 20 years ago. I know that because I gave their latest CDs (Mann’s I’m With Stupid and BFF’s Whatever and Ever Amen) to my brother-in-law as a birthday present in 1997.

I’d known Mann’s hit ‘Voices Carry’ from ‘Til Tuesday but had newly realized what a unique talent she was as a solo artist.

And Ben Folds Five knocked me on my ass the way few bands had before or have since. I knew thirty seconds into their debut album that they were destined to be a favorite of mine. It’s hard to beat their blend of smart pop hooks, virtuoso rock piano and clever, poignant lyrics.

So how do I make this Sophie’s Choice? Well, in this case I’m saved by the band/solo act split, because I know Ben Folds is lurking elsewhere in this bracket, while Mann lives or dies today.

Also, Ben Folds Five is no more, having released only three albums before breaking up (though they did reunite to record a fourth more than a decade later). Mann, on the other hand, has released nine solo albums (including one of her best just last month) and shows no signs of stopping.

So that’s why my vote goes to Mann here, even as I mourn the loss of the best band of the 90s and one of my favorites ever.

I should thank you almost
No one could kill it off until you bled it
But I got rid of that ghost
Though certain habits still remain embedded
With the shadow of a doubt
But, baby, it was you who fed it
And I don’t know what else to say
But I think you get it

I should’ve known
It was coming down to this
I should’ve known
You would betray me but without the kiss
I should’ve known
The kind of set-up it is

And always isn’t always
When it’s not your photograph that I’ve been keeping
But you still live in those days
When I’d stay awake just to watch you sleeping
You delivered that blow
But it left a mark on me that you’re not seeing
And I don’t know what else you hear
But it’s not me weeping

I should’ve known
It was coming down to this
I should’ve known
You would betray me but without the kiss
I should’ve known
The kind of set-up it is

I should’ve seen the cracks in the ceiling
And the mirror covered up with dust
But I was busy talking on the phone
I should’ve seen the obstacles but I said
This house was built for us
Hello, is anybody home?

I should’ve known
The minute that we hit the wall
I should’ve known
The writing was upon the stall
I should’ve known
‘Cause Rome was starting to fall

And I should thank you, almost

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3 thoughts on “Song of the Day #3,226: ‘I Should’ve Known’ – Aimee Mann vs. Ben Folds Five

  1. Dana says:

    First, let me thank you for the gifts way back in 1997. Hard to believe that was 20 years ago! From those two albums, however, I came to appreciate Mann, but found one of my all time favorite artists in Ben Folds.

    I get your argument that the band broke up while Mann continued to record. However, I think you minimize just how incredible the music was before the break up as well as the fact that the album they made when they reunited was wonderful. It may well also be the case that we have not heard the last of BFF either. So, for me, this is an easy decision, and I suspect will be as well for others voting. So, my friend, my sympathies on what I expect to be the early exit of one of your favorite artists.

  2. The Cool Guy (Daniel) says:

    That’s an interesting argument you make for why you give this one to Aimee Mann over Ben Folds Five but for me I love Ben Folds Five work much more than Ben Folds though of course I enjoy that music thoroughly. I will give this vote to Ben Folds Five because I find myself choosing whoever is pitted against Ben Folds more preferable for me and an amazing artist like Ben Folds should continue on for me in his more preferable medium.

  3. Clay says:

    I’ll admit, my vote is a bit of a cheat. The way I see it, all of Ben Folds Five lives on with Ben Folds the solo artist (he’s the songwriter and vocalist, he performs those songs in concert, etc.) while the opposite isn’t true.

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