Pop artist Alec Benjamin released the video for his wistful, emotional track “I Built a Friend” on YouTube yesterday, May 30, and it’s currently No. 15 on Trending following 12-year-old dancer Merrick Hanna’s captivating, tear-inducing interpretation of the song for his “America’s Got Talent” audition last night. Music mogul Simon Cowell was blown away by his performance.
Benjamin couldn’t be happier for the huge positive response to his heart-wrenching tale about growing up and leaving your childhood, imaginary friends behind. He shared his excitement via Twitter earlier today saying, “I Built a Friend is the #10 trending video on YouTube :) THANK YOU.” He also congratulated young Hanna, whose stunning dance routine captured the song’s vulnerable core perfectly and shot to No. 1 on trending following his acclaimed AGT audition.
He said, “#1 trending video on YouTube !!! CONGRATULATIONS @IAmMerrickHanna.”
Alec Benjamin has arguably flown rather quietly under mainstream music radar since he made a splash with his 2014 debut single “Paper Crowns.” Per his Warner/Chappell Music bio, the Phoenix, Arizona native singer-songwriter gained a bunch of grassroots followers overseas after playing Berlin Music Week and Reeperbahn Festival in 2013. Columbia Records signed him in 2014 and he released more singles including “The Water Fountain” and “End of Summer.” Eminem, John Mayer, Jason Mraz and Paul Simon are some of Benjamin's chief music influences.
“I Built a Friend” is his most recent track and there’s something incredibly honest about it. Benjamin, now 23, explores the universal experience surrounding coming of age and leaving our childhood passions behind with cutting clarity.
In this song's case, he chronicles his relationship with the imaginary robot friend he built with “three pieces of plastic and a pen,” using his old cell phone for a head. We can feel the ache and longing the lonely robot feels as his human friend meets a girl, goes off to college and leaves him behind. The ultimate tear-jerker comes when the robot is “killed” by a spilled cup of water that fries his circuits because he’s not stable alone. Ultimately, though, we know the robot’s sad end is symbolic of Benjamin’s personal growth. He doesn’t need him anymore. His life is full and busy with “real” people. Still, the song mandates a Kleenex or two before listening. Sniff, sniff.
I Built a Friend is the #10 trending video on YouTube :) THANK YOU 🙏🏻— Alec Benjamin (@AlecBenjamin) May 31, 2017