While sitting down with Rolling Stone for video series “The Breakdown”, Arizona singer Alec Benjamin analyses his hit “Jesus in LA” and tells of the personal story where he confronted Hollywood’s “dark underbelly.”
Watch: Alec Benjamin breaks down “Jesus in LA”
As the third single Benjamin has released since he first broke into the spotlight, with 2018 album Narrated for You, “Jesus in LA” tells of the time when the singer moved to California and was stung by his own record label.
“I was dropped from the record label,” he explains. “I lost all the songs I had been working on for years…as pretty and cool Hollywood is, there’s a little bit of a dark underbelly, so that’s what I wrote the song about.”
Although he went to California initially thinking it was going to be his big break, Benjamin ended up channelling pain for the writing process. Although it wasn’t all based on his personal story. He was also influenced by someone close to him caught up in the party scene and struggling with drinking. Benjamin remembers being told, “You’re not gonna find your happiness out there doing that.” It’s this piece of advice that inspired the song’s inescapable chorus.
“Sometimes I write out 50, 60, 100 titles on a piece of paper,” Benjamin says of his writing process. “Jesus in LA” was hidden amongst these. “I thought it would be cool to tell the song through a story about me meeting the devil and looking for my saviour.”
Surprisingly, the rising pop star insists that “Jesus in LA” is actually not a religious song. Those who don’t listen closely enough may mistake it for one, but the religious references are actually just the result of a risk, and nothing more. He reflects on how this has fuelled his self-doubt. “Sometimes I’m like, ‘Oh man, maybe it was a mistake to put out a song that has Jesus in the title.’” But he doesn’t completely regret it. “Lyrically, it’s nice to take risks sometimes.”