While love is most likely the biggest, most popular theme for any given piece of music, there is something to be said about the “anti-love” song — or even just songs that eschew all romantic notions and instead point out the worst parts of being with someone who is just never going to be “the one.” There have been countless examples of such tracks over the decades, from “I Hate Myself for Loving You” by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts to “Tainted Love” by Soft Cell — both of which go even further into the genre by delving into how much someone enjoys being with their lover yet knows it’s ultimately unhealthy. Such is the case with rising star Justus Bennetts’ new single, “Dead Inside.”

22-year-old Justus Bennetts is, above all else, an artist who aims to make every piece of music he creates relatable and catchy. Using music as a means to cope with loneliness and an uncertain future, Bennetts has already amassed over 200 million streams worldwide with his many singles since 2021 — most of which blur the lines between alternative, pop and hip-hop. “Dead Inside” is a classic example of the sort of music Bennetts makes, with an opening verse that, right out of the gate, all but forces listeners to pay attention: “I never knew the devil had an ass like that / Walk away and then I look right back / Got me bending over backwards like an acrobat / But I can’t be mad.” It’s that sort of ear-worm-y goodness and lyrical proficiency that’s made Bennetts so popular so quickly — but it’s also the fact that the subject matter of his songs, especially “Dead Inside,” resonates so much with listeners. As Bennetts says about what he hopes people get from his music:

“I just hope people 10 years down the line can still think, ‘Justus makes the most relatable songs’ … I want to connect with people, and I want people to connect with my music.” 

Indeed, “Dead Inside” is the perfect auditory example of a relationship gone bad, if it was ever good to begin with. Bennetts’ sings the chorus on the track — “F*** my mental health / Put my ass through hell / And by the time you’re done I’ll need / Some professional help” — with a mix of resignation and frustration. It’s simultaneously pleading yet playful, and is delivered so earnestly that it’s hard not to find the subject matter relatable. Bennetts genuinely tells a story with “Dead Inside,” which alternates between the ferocity of alt-rock and the brashness of hip-hop, combining to create a track that leaves listeners with the one complaint that they wish the track was longer. Both fun and foreboding, “Dead Inside” is a prime example of a rising star at his best.

Justus Bennetts is currently on tour with renforshort until October 15 — he will also be performing at Breakaway music festivals in Michigan and North Carolina, as well as Big Bootie Land in Boston. Stay tuned for more info as Bennetts releases upcoming music the rest of this year. Be sure to listen to his latest single, “Dead Inside,” below!

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