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Rock

Benson Boone on the Relationship That ‘Terrified’ Him Into Writing Smash Hit ‘Beautiful Things’

Boone's breakout hit is already No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in just its third week on the chart and it's spending its second week at No. 1 on the Billboard Canadian Hot 100.

Benson Boone

Benson Boone

Dennis Leupold

It’s a good time to be Benson Boone.

The 21-year-old Washington-born singer-songwriter, who got some early exposure on American Idol and has since gained a following of nearly five million on TikTok, had scored a pair of Billboard Hot 100 hits early in the 2020s with the piano-led ballads “In the Stars” and “Ghost Town.” But for his latest single, the love song “Beautiful Things,” he added some power to his balladry, going electric with a mid-song guitar kick-in reminiscent of Billie Eilish’s “Happier Than Ever.” The single immediately arrived not only as his own biggest hit, but one of the breakout songs of early 2024, debuting at No. 15 on the Billboard Hot 100 and jumping to No. 3 just two weeks later. It's also No. 1 on the Billboard Canadian Hot 100.


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Now, Boone, who records for Night Street/Warner Records (signed by executive vp of A&R Jeff Sosnow to the latter label), is preparing to head out on his first North American headlining tour as his smash single continues to climb the charts, even topping the Billboard Global 200 this week. [The tour brings Boone to Toronto's History on April 7 and Vancouver's Vogue Theatre on May 4. - Billboard Canada] And while his first two minor hits gave him a little taste of stardom — momentum which faded about as quickly as it appeared — this time, he says he’s not going to let this opening close again.

“I’m very prepared for this moment — and I haven’t been in the past,” Boone explains. “My two other songs that have done well — I wasn’t prepared for them. I teased them without even having the song fully ready. So much happened so fast, and looking back, I could’ve done a lot better at keeping that moment [going]. But this one, I’m ready. I’ve been ready for this one.”

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Below, Boone talks about the inspiration for his new signature hit, why he thinks the song has already taken him to a new level, and if those inevitable Eilish comparisons were something he had in mind while writing it.

You’ve had this song in the can for a little while now. Do you remember about when you first recorded it, first came up with the idea for it or anything like that?

I wrote it on my piano September 29th. I’d just moved to L.A., and I’d moved my grandma’s old piano up to my living room. I couldn’t sleep one night, and I didn’t know what to do, so I came downstairs and started playing the piano. That’s when I wrote the melodies for “Beautiful Things.” The next day I had a session, and I took it into the studio.

Were the lyrics inspired by any specific relationships in your life?

Yeah, it was inspired by a relationship that I had just gotten into — for the first time in my life, I felt like I was extremely out of control of the way this relationship would turn out. Meaning like, in the past, I feel like I’ve always known that I could be the one to end a relationship. This one felt very different. It was the first time that I’d really been actually, genuinely terrified to lose something.

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The song pivots sonically in the middle. Did you always conceive the two parts as one song, or did you figure out a way to bridge them together?

That night that I wrote it, I couldn’t figure out a chorus for the verse melody, so I moved on to a different idea. I actually wrote both of those ideas as separate songs. When I was in the studio, Jack [LaFrantz] — the guy I wrote it with — was the one who suggested [bridging them], because I showed him both of the ideas. He’s the one that suggested that we make it one [combined song].

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The structure of the song did take a long time to figure out because we didn’t know if we should do it all slow, and then do one chorus at the end, or if we should do three choruses. It took us two weeks — after we had already built out production — to redo everything, and that’s where we finally cracked the code. I’m very happy with the way it turned out.

What gave you the confidence that the song could work in this format? Was it the sort of thing where you just heard it once and were like, “OK, this is gonna work”? Could you already start seeing in your head that that moment would sorta play on social media?

I think I knew after I heard the chorus with production that this could be a really big song. With teasing on social media, and with promoting your music, you never really know what’s gonna go. All I can do is try my best to push it. But I was really hoping this one would go, because I do love this song.

And outside of any TikTok video, it just feels like a big change for me — a change in the right direction, that’s more like my other music that will be coming out.

When I’ve been talking about the song with co-workers and friends, a lot of times the song that keeps coming up as a reference point for it is “Happier Than Ever” by Billie Eilish — another song that starts slow, has that big kick-in moment, and then ends on 10. Was that song something that you thought about at all?

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I wasn’t really thinking about a particular song when I wrote this song. But that’s an incredible song, and I guess in ways, yeah, “Beautiful Things” has a structure sort of like that. It’s incredible to have songs that change very drastically from beginning to end. A lot of the songs that I’ve written in the past couple months have that — tempo changes and production changes, and everything picks up a little bit, or slows down a little bit. But yeah, I mean — Billie Eilish. That song’s incredible. So good.

You said that this song is maybe a little more in line with music you have that’s coming out. Is that sort of a specifically guitar-oriented thing? Not many of your songs before this had such a prominent guitar sound to it, but this one is pretty rocking. How does that fit in with the rest of the stuff you have coming up?

A lot of my stuff in the past has been very piano-based. Obviously, I still have a lot of piano in my songs, but there definitely have been more heavier guitar songs, which I’m very happy about.

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I love the guitar. But overall, since the last time I released music, my voice has been maturing a lot. My style has been changing just slightly. And I think the songs that I will be releasing in the next couple months are closer to what my future looks like for releasing music. I’m very excited.

Are you already envisioning what kind of a big moment “Beautiful Things” is going to be when you go out and play it on tour?

Yeah, I’ve thought a lot about that, like how cool it’ll be to sing that chorus with everyone. The night of the release I did a pop-up show in Utah — I announced it like an hour before, and a couple thousand people came. It was really awesome: I sung the song for them, and it was so incredible. To hear so many people that screamed that song with me, it’s pretty crazy.

Beyond the tour, is there anything you’re particularly looking forward to this year?

Man, all I’ve been thinking about is the tour, and I’ll be going some places that I’ve never been before. But after the tour, and after all the shows, I’m really looking forward to just being with my friends. I think we’re gonna go on a trip to Greece and have two weeks and just live my life.

A version of this story originally appeared in the Feb. 10, 2024, issue of Billboard.Online, this article was first published by Billboard U.S.

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50 Cent

50 Cent

Awards

50 Cent Takes A Victory Lap at Toronto's Cabana Pool Bar: Canadian Concerts of the Week

Also this week: it's festival season, with Hillside, Le Festif! and the Vancouver Folk Music Festival all happening on the same weekend.

Summer is in swing, and that means festival season. While many of the biggest ones take place in August, this weekend sees a handful of folk or adjacent events with the perfect summer vibes. Find those below, after our concert of the week featuring one of the biggest rap success stories of the last two decades.

Concert of the Week

50 Cent at Cabana Pool Bar, Toronto — Saturday, July 20

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