“I went through the ‘great heartbreak’ of my life,” Benedict told American Songwriter. “I think every songwriter — every human — knows what I mean when I say that. In life, you have let-downs, but there’s always one that’s like ‘oh, this is going to change everything.’”
Based out of Nashville, Benedict and his “great heartbreak” are artistically coming into their own on the emerging indie-pop artist’s newest single, “Sport to You,” which dropped on October 23.
Taking place in the ultimate venue for American coming-of-age tragedies — a high school football field — “Sport to You” captures Benedict’s talents in all of their glory. Marrying an ‘80s teen-drama visual aesthetic with a retro synth-pop sound, the single fits perfectly into the wider narrative of deconstructing pop music that has come to the forefront of the industry with the hyperpop wave… which might sound a little strange considering that it sounds nothing like the genre’s heavy-hitters.
Nonetheless, building on cliche motifs and sounds in the pop canon, Benedict is able to craft something that comments on mass culture while at the same time participating in it, which is really what hyperpop is all about. In fact, maybe it’s a little inappropriate to call Benedict a hyperpop artist… maybe it’s more akin to “hyper-Gus Dapperton” or “hyper-blink-182,” even. Between the early-2000s vocal processing, the honey-smooth guitars and the charmingly juvenile lyrical imagery, “Sport to You” is fun, catchy, a little bit ironic and heartfelt all at the same time… which makes sense considering where Benedict’s musical journey began.
“In first grade, my friend’s older brother gave me a copy of Enema of the State by blink-182,” he said. “I hid the album in a drawer so my mom wouldn’t find it — I was like ‘oh my gosh, I gotta keep this secret!’ I definitely remember listening to ‘All The Small Things’ on my CD player over and over again thinking to myself ‘I have to do this, I have to make music.’ From then on, I carried that love for music with me.’
After that, Benedict began to get inspired by some of the great songwriters of our time — Taylor Swift and Lorde, namely — and started taking a stab at songwriting himself. This worked fine and allowed for Benedict to start putting together his first original releases, but things really changed when he came out as gay.
“The music I wrote and released before I came out was still written from the heart, but it was really just based on an outsider’s perspective,” he said. “I would think about characters or about what I thought love was. I noticed that when I came out, it not only changed my life but my writing too. I started drawing from raw, real experiences that I had been through, instead of only trying to imagine what someone might be going through. That was the turning point when I really started to hone in on my craft and my songwriting. It was the first time I got to write about my own life.”
And ‘write about my own life’ is exactly what Benedict did on the grooving single this article is about, “Sport to You.” After a painfully life-changing breakup, Benedict found himself at an impasse.
“Once you have that big, ‘great heartbreak,’ it’s game-changing,” he said. “When I was in the pits of it, I would go on runs as a way to feel better. On my runs, I would always listen to ‘Creep’ by Radiohead. Then, I was in the shower one day when this line popped into my head: ‘my head’s stuck in the radio being a creep.’ I ruminated on that line the whole day and the concept for the song came together — I knew it was going to be sport themed and my heart was the ball. That’s what it felt like to go through what I was going through. That night, I sat down with my acoustic and wrote the whole thing.”
Yet, being the multi-talented artist that he is, Benedict went one step further with the ‘sporty’ imagery. “I used a lot of sports sounds in my production process,” he said. “That kinda connected me with the sporty world — I’ve always had a sporty sense of fashion, I played basketball growing up. The drums on ‘Sport to You’ are actually samples of basketballs.”
That small but crucial detail encapsulates what sets Benedict apart from other indie-pop acts. Crafting a theme that perfectly syncs with an aesthetic and a sound, Benedict is a ‘complete package’ kind of artist. Between its genuine catchiness and its emotional complexity, “Sport to You” is the kind of song that’ll feel just at home on your “I need a good cry” playlist as it will on your “workout” or “going out on Saturday night” playlists. That alone is a feat worth celebration.
Watch the music video for “Sport to You” by Benedict below: