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Benson Boone on How His Soaring Single ‘Beautiful Things’ Became One of the Year’s Biggest Hits: ‘I Have Trouble Processing It All’

When Benson Boone released his sledgehammer ballad “Beautiful Things” in January, his expectations weren’t high. “Every song I’ve had, I’ve had to work so, so, so hard for every stream while the song is out,” says the 21-year-old. “I’ve been posting videos and doing any promotion I can, but this one, after a week, just kind of started taking off on its own. That’s the first time I’ve experienced that, and it was incredible to just do everything I can and let the rest just be the music that’s carrying the streams. It was insane.”

In a year already jam-packed with marquee releases from Ariana Grande, Beyoncé and Taylor Swift, Boone started off his year with a somewhat whimper, followed by a big bang. The song, an aching gut-punch of angst and determination to keep a relationship intact, had a similar rollout to much of the music he’s released since his 2021 debut single “Ghost Town”—frankly, posting to death on social media and previewing the song in advance. But something was different with “Beautiful Things”—could it perhaps been the titanic chorus, or the pleading made-for-TikTok lyrics?—and after its debut at No. 15 on the Billboard Hot 100, it shot up to third position in the weeks that followed.

Now, a little more than a month after “Beautiful Things” touched down, it’s resonated with worldwide audiences. In the week after the release of “Beautiful Things,” Boone’s streams on Spotify grew by 200 percent, and through the end of February, average daily streams surged by 370 percent. On the streaming service, where the song was programmed by the editorial team on 140 international playlists, Boone consistently tops the Top 50 Global chart, eclipsing tracks by Kanye West and Tate McRae. And with his star rising, he still finds time to record and post original content to his songs almost daily on TikTok (his platform of choice), where “Beautiful Things” has been used in nearly a million videos.

The numbers are on his side, and growing, and Boone can’t help but feel the tangible effect of its tightening grip on pop music. “My life has changed dramatically since the song came out,” he says. “‘Beautiful Things’ was the first time that I really made proper goals for the song to come out, and now that they have been fulfilled, I can fulfill other goals. It’s so, so, so insane to me that that is happening. I’m trying so hard to formulate words. I have so much trouble processing it all right now, because I’m trying to stay on top of it and make this moment bigger than just ‘Beautiful Things.’ But when I sit back and look at what’s happening, it really, truly blows my mind. Because it’s something a lot of people dream of, and [I’m] one of those people.”

All of this comes as a surprise to Boone, who wrote “Beautiful Things” last September. Originally from Monroe, Washington, he had just moved into his current Los Angeles home, which at the time only had a bed and his grandmother’s piano. On a sleepless night, he sat at the keys and wrote a verse that would end up on the final song. The following evening, once again battling insomnia, he returned to the piano and conceptualized the towering chorus, thinking that the two ideas had nothing to do with one another.

Cut to a day later when he’s in the studio with songwriters Evan Blair and Jack LaFrantz, who suggested tweaking a few things to combine the verse and chorus into what inevitably would become “Beautiful Things.” “I’ve had a lot of songs that are piano ballads and softer, slower songs, and my two other songs that have done well for the most part, ‘In the Stars’ and ‘Ghost Town,’ that’s kind of the vibe they are. I think this was a little more unexpected for people, but also this song is definitely a step in the direction I want to take in this future music. This song just shows a new side of me that people haven’t seen, and I am just stoked that it’s resonating with people because obviously that’s all an artist can dream of.”

It’s surprising, then, how young those dreams actually are. Boone didn’t envision becoming a musician until he was about to start his senior year in high school. Back in Washington, he grew up playing sports and enjoying the outdoors—he ticks off a long list of hobbies including hiking, cliff jumping and snowboarding with his best friend Eric Magelsen—and only dabbled in music playing the piano by ear at home. Right after he turned 18, he got strongarmed into singing lead in a battle of the bands at his school, where even he was shocked by the reaction to his performance. “Everybody was cheering and we won and I found out I could sing. That was my first day singing,” he recalls. “After that, I started to play a lot more and practice a lot more and that’s when everything else started.”

He started posting on TikTok, where he currently has 5.5 million followers, and within a few months amassed a few hundred thousand follows. That caught the attention of “American Idol,” who asked him to try out for the show, and during the audition, judge Katy Perry told him he could win the competition if he wanted. And while he made it to the top 24, he dropped out, unsure if music was the path he wanted to take. But it had the opposite effect, only fueling him further. Imagine Dragons’ lead singer Dan Reynolds reached out soon after and invited him to Las Vegas, where he gave Boone a pseudo crash course in songwriting.

“After those three days observing, the first song I wrote on my own was ‘Ghost Town,'” he says, referring to the melodramatic ballad that just cracked the Hot 100 at the bottom of the chart. “I do think figuring out how to write music is definitely a very personal thing. Everybody does it differently, and it’s taken me a long time to figure out the way I like to write the most. I was very grateful that Dan would let me watch and see what he does and let me have the space to do my own thing on my own.”

In 2021, Boone inked a deal with Reynolds’ Night Street Records in partnership with Warner Music, where he was signed by EVP of A&R Jeff Sosnow, and released “Ghost Town” to help announce the deal. In the time since, he released a pair of EPs—2022’s “Walk Me Home…” and last year’s “Pulse”—rife with moody, hopelessly romantic odes that positioned him as a sensitive singer with a big voice. It’s an approach he has down pat, and he’s extending it to his forthcoming single “Slow It Down” that he’s been regularly teasing on socials.

With “Beautiful Things” maintaining its foothold as a sizable hit (it just returned to the top of the Billboard Global 200 for a third week), Boone is only focused on two things: his upcoming Fireworks and Rollerblades tour, and a debut album. He’s putting the finishing touches on the latter, which he explains will musically embody the spirit of “Beautiful Things.” And he’s gearing up for the international tour, which he announced in late January and kicks off in April. It’s double the size of his first headlining trek and, according to Boone, sold out in an hour.

“I think a lot of the preparing will be vocally,” he says. “When people hear some of these songs, they’ll understand why I’m doing that. I want to make this tour a lot more of a proper show than last time. This time, I think I’ll have better music and be more prepared to put on a better show. I’m just excited to see fans again and people’s faces and to entertain.”

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