Julian Burgueño

Alec Benjamin performs 'Annabelle's Homework' for EW's In the Basement series

June 21, 2019 at 12:00 PM EDT

The hardships of unrequited love feature prominently in Alec Benjamin’s new song “Annabelle’s Homework.”

Benjamin, who sat down to perform the song for the latest episode in EW’s “In the Basement” series, opened up about the new tune, his songwriting process, and more.

“The overarching theme of the song is when you care for somebody and maybe they don’t feel the same way about you, so you think you can win their favor by doing nice things for them, but ultimately you can’t make someone love you,” he tells EW of the pared-down track.

The song features such mournful lyrics as, “I’m disappointed in myself / Cuz I know love’s not for sale / Oh my mother raised me better than that / She doesn’t notice me / She just smiles and says thank you for the geography.” Unreciprocated feelings aside, he says he “doesn’t hold it against” the girl in the song (Benjamin says Annabelle is not her real name).

Benjamin released his debut mixtape Narrated for You back in November, and since then its lead single “Let Me Down Slowly” has been certified platinum. Last week he released a new song “Must Have Been the Wind,” and this fall, he’s set to perform at his largest headline shows to date at the Fonda Theatre in Los Angeles on Oct. 9 and at Terminal 5 in New York on Oct. 25.

The crooner, who released his first mixtape back in 2013, says his songwriting process has changed over time. “I used to just start out with chords and then just see whatever popped out randomly, and if a cool word or melody popped out I would run with it,” he says. “Now I’m a little bit more intentional about starting with a word first, but it varies. I try to have a concept first.”

And although he says his favorite part about songwriting is that moment “when you finally get one that you know is good,” he says he’s learning to love the process more, not just the product. “The majority of the songs that you write are not going to be your best songs, so if you’re only living for those moments when you write your best songs, then you’re not going to be very happy,” Benjamin explains.

Benjamin will launch his Caught In The Middle World Tour Aug. 16 in Tokyo, Japan. The tour is set to continue through Dublin, Ireland on Nov. 28. He’ll also make the festival rounds this summer with scheduled performances at Osheaga, Firefly, and Lollapalooza.

Watch the video above for more of Benjamin, and check out past “In the Basement” performances from PRETTYMUCH, Lennon StellaTy Dolla $ign, and Jewel.

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