Readers, I have failed you. I have done my best over the last several months to expose the very worst in music and warn you all from ever wasting your time, money or breath on it. But I have left a group out. A group so terrible, so screamingly bad, so unutterably unconscionably murderously smugly awful that it alone makes a stinking mockery of the very notion of human progress and the concept of ‘good’. A group so godawfully useless that I had blocked their very existence from my memory and it has taken several sharp corrective blows with a steel mallet to restore the details.

I am of course talking about Ben Folds Five.

First of all of course there are not five of them. A fuckheel of Ben Folds’ magnitude could hardly be expected to have four friends willing to share a continent with him, let alone a stage. No, it’s just Ben’s goofy madcap way. Ben Folds, you see, conceals his poignant songwriting skills within a slightly zany and – hey – kinda clever shell. In other words, he is the sanity-shattering crossbreed of Billy Joel and the Barenaked Fuckerty Ladies, Billy Joel without even the tiny figleaf of sincerity to cover his pallid retchworthy arse.

The Ben Folds Five are the most contrived band in existence: “I want to be an indie rock star” wheedles the horrid Mr.Folds, “What instrument can I play which nobody else is using? I know! I know! The piano, yes, that will be my calling card.” Had Pavement or whoever tickled the ivories a bit more he’d no doubt have plumped for the fucking accordion, so naked was his desire to be noticed. Ben Folds Five and their sentimental AOR revivalist shit are the musical equivalent of the man who comes into work every day in a different novelty tie. The only song of theirs I can remotely bear is “Army”, because it conjures up the delicious prospect of the repeated and violent kickings Ben Folds would receive on a daily basis were he ever to get drafted. Come on George W., make it happen!