SONG REVIEW: Alec Benjamin's "Jesus in LA"
I find that there’s a shocking number of songs critiquing Hollywood life.
One of the newest additions to that ever-growing list is the latest single from Alec Benjamin, “Jesus In LA”.
The song is surprisingly sad despite its upbeat tempo, instrumental, and vocal performance. But with lyrics like “when they sold you the dream you were just 16 / packed a bag and ran away”, it's clear Benjamin is emphasizing the reality of drug and alcohol abuse throughout LA.
The more you listen to the lyrics, the heavier it gets.
It took me three listens to realize that the track depicts a conversation with the devil. The dismal tone is accentuated by the fact that even the devil tells him that LA isn’t a good place.
Eventually, the devil tells him to give up trying to find a better path and that he should “come down to my level / hang out with the devil”.
Finally, Benjamin shares in this revelation, and he decides that he needs to go home because he can’t find his savior in LA.
The music video, directed by Joey Brodnax, is visually stunning. Any lyrics about the devil or LA's wicked nature are accompanied by red lighting. The interesting and unique play on lighting and colors pays off.
Moreover, during the first chorus, there’s a small flipbook of a sign reading “GOD BLESS LOS ANGELES” with a figure, only for the figure to walk away and the “B” to fall, changing the sign to “GOD LESS LOS ANGELES”.
While grammatically questionable, the artistic message is absolutely chilling and adds layers to the song's interpretation.
The video continues with people in red outfits abducting Alec. A short fade to black precedes the bridge, accompanied by blue lighting and a creative camera angle. The next time we see the abductors, they're tied up on the edges of a pool, while Alec gathers the rest of the people in red at a telephone booth. This time, they're all holding disconnected payphones.
The video ends with Alec pulling out his payphone and holding it up to his ear as the video goes black.
The song and music video follow Alec’s journey in LA from when he began, believing, “that I was going to finally find the happiness that I always had been looking for”. Unfortunately, Alec was later dropped from his record deal and had to move back in with his parents.
He says that the song isn’t about religion and the lack of it, but more, “searching for hope and happiness and realizing those things aren’t always where you think you’ll find them”.