Benny blanco’s discography boasts some of the most renowned hits of the decade with a chart– topping history of big–name collaborations. Blanco has risen to the top as an artist, producer, and songwriter, culminating in the release of his latest album Friends Keep Secrets 2. Encompassing an extensive range of genres and artist features, blanco adds onto his 2018 album Friends Keep Secrets with a new disc containing seven original songs. From Justin Bieber to Juice WRLD, blanco balances themes of love, loss, and celebration across this limited runtime of nearly 43 minutes—proving he has mastered the art of both versatile and high quality music.
The lead single of the album is Justin Bieber’s emotional and authentic “Lonely,” produced, engineered, and programmed by blanco. This track, which authentically details Bieber’s childhood in the spotlight and current mental health struggles, is the fifth collaboration between the two artists. The song is a minimalist piano ballad that brings together the raw artistry of blanco with Bieber’s own personal demons. In a recent interview, blanco intricately describes the creative process and mindset that was adopted during this collaboration, seeking to comprehensively share the sentiment that it is “OK not to be OK.” The song took off, peaking at number five on Billboard Global 200.
In a quick shift from emotional ballad to repetitive rap, blanco features the late 6 Dogs against a mirage of synths and backbeats in “Lost.” The lyrical simplicity supplements the overall thematic message, as 6 Dogs “[wonders] if [he’ll] be this immature when [he's] grown.” Blanco remembers 6 Dogs’ legacy, showcasing the two artists’ friendship and ability to work in unison. They were close friends and great colleagues, furthered by the fact that Dogs signed to blanco’s Mad Love Records in 2018. This tribute hits close to home, as 6 Dogs offers a beacon of hope and positivity for his fans.
In a similar manner, blanco posthumously collaborates with Juice WRLD for two songs on Friends Keep Secrets 2. “Graduation,” released after Juice WRLD’s posthumous album Legends Never Die, is the second time the two artists have worked together. This track takes a witty perspective on the insignificance of high school and the naivety of being a teenager, sampling Vitamin C’s 2000 hit “Graduation.” The music video for “Graduation” is star–studded, with myriad features from celebrities Hailee Steinfeld, Noah Cyrus, Nat Wolff, and several other big names. Blanco also commemorates Juice WRLD’s lyrical flexibility in his second feature on Friends Keep Secrets 2, “Real Shit.” On this emotional rap track, blanco and Juice WRLD delve into the positive and negative ramifications of being in the limelight: the fame, the money, and the constant influx of public resentment.
On the opposite end of the genre's spectrum, blanco, Marshmello, and Vance Joy team up in “You.” Soft guitar picks and charming lyrics overwhelm this composition, uniting the best from each artist. Joy’s enchanting vocals interlocked in blanco and Marshmello’s effortless popcraft and production brought this hit to the top of global charts. The song is peachy and delightful, with the thematic sentiment of romance under the guise of pretty pop. The music video features three clay figurines, chronicling a happily–ever–after storyline about a green monster that transitions from a kidnapper to a compassionate friend.
blanco continues to tap into his softer, emotional side with “Unlearn,” highlighting Gracie Abrams’ soft pop sound. The two artists weave a tale of learning to love, with Abrams breaking down into a heartfelt chorus: "I need to unlearn what I'm used to / Need to unlearn how to run when it feels right." In another incredibly passionate song titled “Care,” Omar Apollo and blanco uncover the raw sentiment of a shattered heart: “You left me out for dead / I probably pushed my luck / I couldn’t take no more.” Apollo breaks out into an explosive bridge, throwing his emotion and pain overboard against blanco’s soundscape of guitar and synths.
Friends Keep Secrets 2 is a short yet layered album that encompasses blanco’s rawest emotions, his comical perspective on the past, and the remembrance of two of his two closest friends—Juice WRLD and 6 Dogs. This album is another great addition to blanco’s extensive discography, reminding music–listeners across the world that there is much more to pop than simply lyrical composition—it is about inspiration, passion, and love.