1. Track List (164)

Revisiting Demi Lovato’s Album ‘Unbroken’ Shows An Uneven Electronic Effort That Contains Talent And Tedium

taylor
Written by taylor
/ 7 mins read

I vaguely am familiar with Demi Lovato’s child acting career, having caught her performances back in the day occasionally on kids’ shows Camp Rock and Sonny with a Chance, and coinciding with this, her albums Don’t Forget and Here We Go Again captured the juvenile, fun loving Pop Punk scene that is really hard to resist when Lovato was bursting with immense bandleader energy and truly untouchable vocals for that sub genre. Sure there was a generic overproduction to both albums’ music then, yet while I had heard that she re-invented her sound for subsequent albums, I did not realize to what extent that the new Demi Lovato had gone full on Rihanna Synth Pop. Was I digging this style 5, 6 years ago? Of course not – too much music to listen to out there to waste my time. But I know that people adore these songs, cover them, and I certainly have attended a few karaoke parties in my time, impressed how the girls in the group knew every word and cadence for the joints on this album. These days, I have a more evaluative mind, meaning this extends to the music I like just as much to the music that I don’t. I have heard some of the singles on Unbroken over the years on the radio, etc, and had no freakin’ clue that they were by Demi Lovato – especially tracks such as “Give Your Heart a Break”, which I always assumed was by Rihanna. That is the double edged sword of Lovato’s voice and musical choices. She can switch anything and everything up to suit her goals – and with Unbroken, her goal was not so much a ‘mature’ Pop album, as she has claimed in the past, but rather, to break in to the Pop stardom afforded to Rihanna and Lady Gaga and Katy Perry. Hey, 2011 was like that – everyone copying everybody else’s success, yet, the result is abysmal on this album, with 14 tracks of mostly unlistenable songwriting and cheap trick synth.

Generic Songwriting Plagues ‘Unbroken’, Exemplified Best By One Of Its More Disappointing Tracks

This record is generic as hell to listen to, yet perhaps this fact worked in its favor, as the audience was ravenous for its catch all sound, filled with vapid party numbers and a few beautifully sung yet formulaic ballads, allowing Unbroken to achieve commercial success, peaking at number four on the Billboard 200. Some of this music is absolutely terrible by today’s standards, such as the wannabe Sean Kingston with Justin Beiber styled track “You’re My Only Shorty”, starring Demi Lovato and British Islander Reggae Pop star Iyaz, singing cringe-inducing lyrics over some of the worst most canned synth patches I’ve ever heard, made worse by the instrumentations’ many out of sync moments. This, like many songs, will only positively impact those who have nostalgia on their side – folks who hear all their young teen romances captured within the overproduced digital horn lines, synth stabs, and metallic clap rhythms. I will play devils advocate in this instance, and claim that I also feel nostalgia for the cheap Miami Bass Freestyle beat of “My Boo” by Ghost Town DJ’s, which was poppin’ in my youth, and certainly itself can be accused of being hollow sounding by R&B aficionado standards, yet, I hear even in “My Boo” a commitment to groove that is pretty much killed on the sound design of “You’re My Only Shorty”, even if Lovato hits some soulful moments. With an incessantly juvenile repeated chorus like this one, the track easily makes it onto the torture playlist of any inquisitor worth his salt.

Timbaland Was Tapped To Make The Album More Urban, But Is Timbaland Just One Of Many Cooks In The Kitchen?

I can empathize with the idea of wanting to transition from an emphasis on Pop Punk to something real different for Demi Lovato, and, perhaps following the careers and sounds of Beyonce and Rihanna, Lovato felt that her voice begged to play out over exciting, hyper urban dance tracks…replete with Greek Society style stomp numbers and dance floor sexual tension which was all the rage during this golden age of dance movies (Save the Last Dance, You Got Served, and Step Up). Love the exuberance – but absolutely hate the hollow, all to obvious format – which truly does not hold up against the Pop options of today. Timbaland is a classic beat maker, musician, and iconic producer, yet as I have always sort of felt his ‘stop-go’ style was overdone by the late nineties, in the 2000s he seemed to de-evolve further creatively. “All Night Long” happens to be one of the more stomach-able joints on the album, and introduces Lovato to the world as the R&B Diva she seems set on being. It’s nothing special – just a party bop to dance and clap along to, with basic flirty lyrics like “I'm on another planet / I'm in another universe / you may not understand it / sooner or later baby you will learn.” Timbaland’s distinctive voice serves as humanized bass line, and Missy Elliot does the same flow she always does. On the next Timbaland track “Together”, feature Jason Derulo makes a fool out of himself by way overdoing his vocal acrobatics – rendering his parts unlistenable, while Lovato sounds indistinguishable from the same siren calls and ohs-and-ahs wailing over synth progressions that Rihanna was already capitalizing on. “Lightweight”, the Timbaland produced ballad, applies the same Pop progression used since the fifties, and Lovato’s vocals, while rough edged and emotional, just follow along the formulaic waltz beat. Many writers and producers help out on other songs, none of these tracks sounding truly great because of, I feel, a lack of artistic direction. “Hold Up” is definitely synth-by-committee, with lots of copy and paste measures.

Despite Claims Of An R&B Overhaul, Most Tracks Are Teen Bops

I feel that Demi Lovato already had a great Pop and Rock voice leading up to this album, yet on Unbroken, she is still trying to find her urbaneness and does not know how to capitalize on this style through controlled expenditure within an individual song. She would find the Soul sweet spot with subsequent albums, but in the meantime, the results would have always been pretty insufferable for a man like me. Songs that are mostly not for me are firmly in the vapid or shrill teen pop category, whether it’s track “Who’s That Boy” and it’s juvenile bounce, “Mistake” and it’s Avril Lavigne styled balladry, or “In Real Life”, which finds a great synergy actually between Soul worthy runs and Bubblegum Pop, and thereafter, “For the Love of a Daughter”, the closest thing to Lovato’s previous Pop Punk balladry. Alas, the most popular tracks here happen to be the teen bop offerings, whether they are the somber high school slow jam “My Love Is Like a Star”, which I quite like, or the more famous “Skyscraper”, which the world liked yet I disliked for its on-the-nose balladic formula, and then finally, “Give Your Heart a Break”, clearly one of the finer examples of this dissatisfying copycat Pop period – a deafening and dull audio zeitgeist which I’m happy the world has finally moved on from.

Demi Lovato Shows Off The Confidence Of Having One Of The Best Voices In Pop On Album ‘Confident’

taylor
Written by taylor
/ 7 mins read

Segueing from most of the Synth Pop and Bubblegum Pop on album Demi, Demi Lovato exudes confidence on the album Confident with impressive vocal deliveries, whether she is belting out some Gospel caliber performance, or getting urban with sing-talk cadences, and the proof seems to have been in the pudding, because the album was popular, and she foretold all of this in a statement made around its release; “I've never been so sure of myself as an artist when it comes down to confidence, but not only personal things, but exactly what I want my sound to be and what I know I'm capable of and this album will give me the opportunity to show people what I can really do." This apparently correlated with the positive fan response, as the album debuted at number two on the US Billboard 200, supported by a successful Future Now Tour with Nick Jonas, her long time friend and collaborator. Now, I am not the hugest Pop fan, and while I recognized that Lovato at the time was a pretty outstanding voice compared to her peers, I was only impressed with several of her actual tracks then, and my opinions have not changed much on a recent full album listen. It’s audio ranges from motivational Dance Pop, to some Synth Pop, and several joints in the categories of R&B, Soul, Gospel, Hip Hop and Pop Rock. A tall stylistic order, but a good portion of it is either too similar to the competition, or aimless in its songwriting, which should be laid at the feet’s of a hell of a lot of cooks in the kitchen, with a shortlist of writers including Julia Michaels, Steve Mac, Laleh Pourkarim, and Ryan Tedder. Writer-producer Max Martin seems to have made the most indelible contribution, thanks to his involvement on the two biggest critical and creative hits; both “Confident” and the genius jam “Cool for the Summer.”

Definitely A Vocal Chameleon Only A Few Paces Behind Sia And Kelly Clarkson

One thing I am confident of is that my girl can sing. I put her up there amongst Sia and Kelly Clarkson and Ariana Grande, but will add that she has already exhibited being a chameleon with respects to how she can match her vocals to any genre – a must, I say, in the sandbox of Pop. “For You” for instance, is the stand out Pop Rock Anthem, with it’s emphasized power chord hits, where Demi Lovato roughs up her vocal belts in a way that mimics Tina Turner, not so much technically but emotionally. The only thing that held this track back was the mismatched verse to hook melodies, and the synth takeover, which becomes overproduced. On par with the emotional output of Sia, “Stone Cold” finds Lovato delivering lots of range and great belting, with a bit of Lana Del Rey vocal lilting, haunting enough for a subject about forcing yourself to be happy for your ex’s new relationship, even if it’s killing you and turning your heart ‘stone cold.’ Lyrics like “me and my heart / we'll make it through / If happy is her / I'm happy for you”, should be taken with a grain of salt though as it approaches cliche, and additionally, I feel the orchestration was threatening to be too typical, if it wasn’t for the gospel piano melody saving the track. “Lionheart” is a fantastic, big-clap motivational Pop anthem, with distant bells tolling for what I interpret as a female fight song, and a dead-on answer to Katy Perry’s “Roar”, what with the lioness/royal references and concussive explosive measures. The lyrics are about as generic as you can get, urging the tribe with shared experiences to holdfast thanks to “the story binds us / like right and wrong / our hand in mine / marching to the beat of the stars.”

It’s A Shame That The Assured Styles Of Two Huge Hits Could Not Extend Their Magic To The ‘Just OK’ Cuts

Aiming for a Katy Perry Teenage Dream experience, two or three tracks pass muster, but not nearly enough to satisfy that goal. “Confident” opens with a driving “Beautiful People” Marilyn Manson Industrial Metal Groove, the ramping synth joining with Trap sections and finger snaps, ultimately becoming a bleacher stomping halftime jam of a track, equating ‘confidence’ to feminine control in the bedroom, as Demi Lovato dominates vocally and sexually – even though the verbal attitude seems to lean more toward bratty role play which invites some desired punishment. Lots of mixed signals from lyrics like “I used to hold my freak back / now I'm letting go” and “Bitch, I run this show / so leave the lights on / no, you can't make me behave”. This Dance Pop is super athletic and perfect for competitions. The wordage – er, well, the notion of ‘taking control’ really was, I feel, in vogue during this 2015 age, yet the concept could be trying at times when the lyrics were muddy or contradictory. “Cool for the Summer” is another track for the ladies, but mesmerizing enough to cover all sides of the equation, and after only one listen I could tell it was a clear hit, chasing after Katy Perry’s “I Kissed A Girl” success, with a two part hook that consists of a hard ramping beat which transitions to an emotional vocal building up, interchanged with a super innocently delivered verse that is sub textually kinky; “tell me what you want / what you like / it's okay / I'm a little curious, too.” A non-commital, adorable way of inviting a bit of lesbianism into one’s summer explorations. When Lovato’s vocals are raging on the hook, they have the power, attitude, and wild melodic swing of Lady Gaga. Lovato’s vocals don’t disappoint anywhere really, yet many songs are of subpar quality from a songwriting point of view, including the predictable ‘get into formation’ synth of “Kingdom Come”, that claims “oh, you're my kingdom come / so sit me on your throne”, which on the one hand I assume is about God, yet that would totally not fit the style of the song, and besides, feature Iggy Azalea treats the material more as a search for the king who is worthy of such queens. Really don’t understand this song’s meaning.

In A Pop Age Obsessed With Copying Successful Models, This Album Is Hollow, With Soul Only Purchased Through Lovato’s Technique

Despite the noble efforts to communicate her mental struggles and drug abuse, the album suffers from trying to chase formulas already laid down, and each song suffers somewhat as a result, like “Waitin for You”, and its Pop R&B sing-talk cadence which is such an overused attitude, barely supported by a one note melody accentuated by an aimless ooh and aah chorus, or “Wildfire” – a seductive at times synth piece mired by a weak repetitive hook. Kind of clever attitude on the verse, yet I’ve heard this shit plenty of times. It wants it’s title to be epic when phrased, but it is meaningless in this mode. “Old Ways” revisits the typical bratty attitude heard so many times, mixing some vocals that are good with others that are nasally and annoying – and the EDM Pop parts kill the momentum of the song, all per the modus operandi of the industry at the time. Demi Lovato is defiant about taking control of her sobriety, stating “but if somebody tells me / I'll go back to my old ways / I'm gonna say no way”, but I really don’t like the overconfident sound here as it seems to punish the people in her circle for asking about her well being. We now know that she suffered an overdose in 2018 and has recently committed herself to lifetime sobriety starting in 2019. She’d do right by herself to avoid anthems that sound like “Old Ways”, and stick to her natural Soul exhibited on ballads such as “Yes” and the heartfelt Gospel of “Father.”

On Self Titled Album ‘Demi’, Demi Lovato Hits Her Pop Stride Over Superior Beats

I might be a bit of a grump when it comes to Pop music, bored to tears over the clichés and copycat nature of this particular genre, yet I am willing to admit when an artist’s sound improves from album to album, and in the case of Demi Lovato, I feel Demi is a great case of this happening, showing a talented singer starting out as a Pop Punker, de-evolving somewhat at her first stab as full fledged Pop diva on Unbroken, and then improving her style by ditching most of the terrible styles plaguing her melodies there while incorporating a bit of that Pop Punk spirit which she was already beloved for. 2013 was a huge year for Lovato – and she seemed to achieve what she was after – a seat at the table of big acts like Taylor Swift and Katy Perry, plus she had huge Demi singles playing like crazy on the airwaves, such as “Heart Attack” and “Neon Lights”, though as big as these were, none were huger than a single on a soundtrack of a little ol’ movie called Frozen. You might have seen the movie, and if you did, you might have heard of its biggest song “Let It Go.” All of these were inescapable tracks – and while I didn’t dig them all that much, as it’s not my scene, I can certainly hear their blueprints for success. Taken as a whole, this album is definitely as good as anything from Perry or Swift – and I will always stick up for the fact that while Lovato might continue getting bronze medals, she is absolutely the superior vocalist on the podium, and besides, her fans, lovingly referred to as Lovatics, will always consider her the first place gold medalist.

Written by taylor  / Mar 04, 2019

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    About

    Demetria Devonne Lovato (/ləˈvɑːtoʊ/ lə-VAH-toh; born August 20, 1992) is an American singer, songwriter, and actress. After appearing on the children's television series Barney & Friends as a child, she received her breakthrough role as Mitchie Torres in the Disney Channel television film Camp Rock (2008) and its sequel Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam (2010). The former film's soundtrack included Lovato's debut single, "This Is Me", which peaked in the top ten on the US Billboard Hot 100.
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    Born

      1992-08-20

    Active

      2002–present

    Label

    • Walt Disney
    • Hollywood
    • Island
    • Safehouse