If you’d like to join me in hitting the gas on emerging female pop as a means to quell over-thinking and just get dancey, then BENEE is the woman for you.  

Stella Bennett, who goes by BENEE (pronounced Benny), just dropped a new EP STELLA & STEVE, which follows the success of her debut EP from earlier this year, FIRE ON MARZZ.  

BENEE is a 19-year-old pop artist from Auckland, New Zealand. After winning four times at the 2019 New Zealand Music Awards, she’s blowing up with Spotify streams in the same way she’s blowing up my shower dance playlist. Where FIRE ON MARZZ was a cosmic explosion (with killer animated art to match the soundscape), STELLA & STEVE chills down and bunkers in on laid-back grooves.  

BENEE was introduced to me while I was sitting in the back row of a Pacifica minivan. This felt intentional. The Pacifica as a whole needed a remedy from mindless transit and BENEE stepped up to the plate. On a six-hour drive with six people who each had vastly different music tastes, she was one of the few artists that pulled people’s heads off the windows to ask, “who’s this?” Following my time in the Pacifica, I went on a bender of testing out BENEE’s universal pacifying quality, watching to see how she can satisfy a diverse room with pop that eases. She hasn’t failed me yet.

A week after the drive, Pacifica vibes came full circle — BENEE dropped STELLA & STEVE, Stella being herself and Steve being her car (which she stands on in the EP cover art). In an interview with Billboard she says: “‘I call everything Steve. Since I was little, I’d go on, like, holiday and call hermit crabs Steve,’ she said. ‘And I still do. I’ll name a snail Steve. Everything is called Steve in my world. My car is also called Steve.’”

STELLA & STEVE continued to become oddly ethereal for me due to lead single  “Find an Island.” BENEE started as a means of escape for me, and “Find an Island” focuses on the dreams of an island far far away, hooking you with its bouncy three-beat rise and fall. The escape of BENEE mostly comes from her smooth lower register, which is the equivalent of eating a Godiva truffle. I find an island far away from here with the ease of her melodious pop and her badass self-assurance. I don’t need to think hard listening to BENEE. I can just sit in the back of a Pacifica and exist. 

The EP’s capture of carefree shows up best in “Supalonely,” featuring Gus Dapperton. The amusing swing of “ooo, ah, yeah, I’m lonely” makes you lean your head back with a sly smirk. The lyrics on “Monsta” do the same, hitting you with silly daggers: “But then instead of eatin’ me, he offers me a blueberry.”   

BENEE is an animated, laid-back adventure. She is the off-switch to a brain on overdrive, and she’s definitely my next on-the-rise-star in my recent expedition of escapist female pop.

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