what might a benson boone be? i take a closer look

what might a benson boone be? i take a closer look

Music moves fast. Yesterday's single release might be today's hit. Today's hit might end up next year's one hit wonder. Each passing day brings fresh blood to the pop music corpus. You have to feed the beast. It's like that AMC show with David Schwimmer called Feed The Beast.

It's important to pay attention to what's fresh and hot in music, because if you aren't careful, you might look at the Billboard Hot 100 one day and go...

"Who is Benson Boone?"

Well firstly, Benson Boone is a young man who recently released a song, "Beautiful Things," which has entered the Billboard Hot 100 in the 15th position on its first week. Second week? #8. His first top 10 hit. Not bad, Benson Boone. His name is a real scroll-stopper—he sounds like someone you would hire to calm your angry horse, or else someone who might buy you a beer at a saloon called The Angry Horse. The name was striking enough for me to do a shallow dive into his backstory.

Benson Boone Reveals His Debut Album Is Coming This Year: 'New Era'
It's Benson Boone (via PEOPLE Magazine)

Benson Boone is from Monroe, Washington. He is just 21 years of age. He'll be 22 in June. His first foray into music was singing in a friend's Battle of the Bands competition in high school. He attended Brigham Young University for a semester, but dropped out to focus on his singing career. He also "made it to Hollywood" in the 19th season of American Idol, but dropped out before "going to Hollywood," ostensibly also to focus on his singing career. Though that 2021 Idol appearance boosted his social media presence, he was already getting a lot of attention on TikTok before appearing on the show; he's said that the first video he ever posted got 400,000 views. Now he has 4.6 million followers on TikTok as of this blog's publication. 1.7 of them showed up before he even put out a single.

Rather than go through the rigamarole of a televised singing competition, Benson Boone went a different route, signing to the Warner-affiliated Night Street, aka the music label of Imagine Dragon's earnestly diesel frontman Dan Reynolds. After watching the Imagine Dragons Hulu concert special and writing about it, I have a new appreciation for the band and especially Reynolds, who is not cool, unless you think trying is cool. Reynolds's partnership with this mop-topped, Idol-shirking BYU dropout is interesting to me—it feels fraught with potential, like the signing of a walk-on quarterback who just might end up a Super Bowl winner.

What of the music of Benson Boone? His 2022 EP Walk Me Home... is an oops-all-ballads situation, heavy on the piano and on the heartwrenching, Lewis Capaldi "Someone You Loved"-ish vocals. The dial sounds a little too stuck on the What if Shawn Mendes was really sad? setting. 2023's EP PULSE, mercifully more upbeat, still feels like someone went into the studio after Harry Styles finished Harry's House and skimmed the computer's trash for leftovers. So who is Benson Boone really?

The answer seems to be: a sensitive rock man. "Beautiful Things," the new single, really does feel like it has potential. Rather than the muted, plastic production on that last batch of power ballads, "Beautiful Things" has some gin-u-wine guitar strumming in the mix, and a time signature pump-fake that dips into the crunchy sadboy Noah Kahaniverse in the verses before going full rock yowl in the choruses. There are moments when Benson Boone sounds like what would happen if Måneskin started shopping at Patagonia instead of their local leather pants depot. Jesus, do I like this song?

Steven Hyden recently wrote about Noah Kahan and the sneaky but inevitable uprising of the next wave of stomp-clap-hey music in Uproxx, pointing out that Kahan's ability to "see the desire for sing-along folk anthems" makes him "a human streaming algorithm," which is of course a "[Taylor] Swiftian tendency," and I see a bit of that coming in Benson Boone's tunes, however early in his career this may be. The Walk Me Home... EP mirrored the programmatic, miserable, barely-sentient tearjerkers that, for the last decade, were essentially the only songwriting format available to guys who wanted to chart and weren't named Drake. "Beautiful Things" feels very current, very 2024. We are allowing the pop men to have guitars again, and "big feelings" as well, and Benson Boone will take advantage of this.

At the end of the day, I like a big swing. I like a gutsy move. Benson Boone seems to have grown out of that singing-in-cursive thing that I cannot stand. The man is singing out. It's actually an impressive vocal performance, considering he first started seriously singing in...2020? And he is clearly a savvy person. One of his first TikTok hits was an genius ploy to draft some attention off the release of Olivia Rodrigo's megahit "Driver's License"—Boone rewrote the lyrics from the male perspective. He did it only two days after the original Rodrigo song came out. And it got 11 million views. Benson Boone is not an idiot. He knows what people like, and he can move quickly to get it done.


IB: @marlowj15 #fyp #foryou #singing#voiceeffects

♬ original sound - Benson

I'm not saying you need to listen to Benson Boone, but I'm just letting you know you probably will be hearing a lot more of Benson Boone. It's early yet in the rootsy man renaissance, and time will tell if he will end up more of a lunchpail Gavin DeGraw, or an Adam Levine who rides the gravy train straight to the top of the mashed potato mountain. But I think "Beautiful Things" is just the beginning for this dude, and I would personally not bet against Benson Boone. The killer instinct is there, the talent is there, Dan Reynolds is there, and the crucial mustache-mullet combo that all digital native boyz-to-men must attain is now there as well. Imagine him as big as...Imagine Dragons. Imagine Benson Boone.

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