“I was writing sad stuff but covering it up with a happy beat,” says 20-year-old singer Benee of her irresistible hit “Supalonely.” The tune started as a TikTok sensation in February, and by lockdown had crossed over to radio, amassing more than 272,600 spins in 2020, the vast majority at Top 40.
Benee collaborated with fellow New Zealander Josh Fountain and songwriter Jenna Andrews (BTS’ “Dynamite”) to come up with what she envisioned as a breakup song, but whose lyrics — especially the line “I’m a lonely bitch” — could easily apply to the isolation felt by hundreds of millions during the COVID pandemic.
Here, the three creators recall the magic moment.
Benee: I went to L.A. for a month to make music, and I think it was the first session I did. I had broken up with my boyfriend, so I went into the session [thinking] I was going to be writing a lot of sad songs. Josh set the tone with the production. I was still writing sad stuff
while he was covering it up with a happy beat.
Josh Fountain: I didn’t have anything prepared, so I was desperately trying to find the right sounds and the right tempo while the girls were talking. It was me panicking in front of the computer, trying to get something together that we could sing over.
Benee: While Josh was fiddling away at the beat, Jenna and I were chatting about our lives and had a great vent about relationships and ex-boyfriends. I was thinking about lyrics, and Jenna was humming away and singing. Once I had some stuff down that I liked, I’d go into the booth and just freestyle ideas. I like to not take myself too seriously. I had the line “Guess I’m a shitter” down, and Josh was like, “Your mom is going to hate you saying that.”
Jenna Andrews: How much did we fight you on that, Josh? He was, like, “OK, I’ll keep it,” and then later he sent me the demo, and it didn’t have it in there!”
Benee: We thought [the “shitter” line] was legendary. [With the lyric] “You’re a lonely bitch,” I said, “I’m keeping that.”
Andrews: My first recollection of “Sup alonely” taking off was just as we were going into lockdown. I remember thinking, “It’s so ironic! Everyone is ‘supalonely’ during quarantine.” To be able to have that impact, and a positive one. That’s a pretty cool thing.
Benee: It’s nice to know that it’s comforting in this time, even though it was about a stupid ex-boyfriend.
Fountain: It worked out pretty well!
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