Born in New Mexico in 1992, Demetria Devonne Lovato has mixed Spanish, Native American, Jewish and Portuguese ancestry on her father’s side, and Irish and English blood on her mother’s. Her ancestry is deeply rooted in the civil rights and gubernatorial history of the state.
Raised in Dallas, Texas, Demi took dance and acting classes, making her a natural for the small screen. More significantly, she also took piano and guitar lessons as a child. She sang on the soundtrack for Camp Rock and dropped her debut album, Don’t Forget, in 2008 to positive reviews. Blending power-pop and straight ahead teen pop, she still couldn’t help but break away from stereotype with the ambitious ‘La La Land’ and the mid-tempo glam rock ballad, ‘Don’t Forget’. With a sassy brew of crunchy guitar hooks, strong melody and harmony and a sugar snap bubblegum coating, Lovato’s first album proved impossible to forget. Considering she was 16 when she went into the studio with John Fields and the Jonas Brothers, the disc was a triumph. Far away from the perfect world of the Disney Channel, here was a young artist with something to say and the lyrical means to her own end. Don’t Forget is available in various formats: a deluxe edition with DVD extras, live, interview, behind the scenes, etc.
While that was still shifting enough copies to go gold in the US and platinum in Brazil, Demi leapt straight into the follow-up, Here We Go Again, an album that made inroads in other territories and topped the Billboard 200 in August 2009. Fields remains behind the console but the template starts to take shape now with a wider variety of guests, including guitarist John Mayer, and a more programmed design that allows Demi’s expressive and powerful vocals room to breathe in lush and rarified jazz-pop and soul settings. The title track and ‘Remember December’ are the charm here. On ‘Remember’ Lovato explained, “I love this song for many reasons. It had a different sound than a lot of my songs. I related to it personally more than other songs, and I have so much fun with it. I thought if it could be a single that it would be incredible to perform it all the time. What stands out about the song is that I can dance to it and rock out to it, which is ultimately my goal. I was just so excited when I heard t.his one, ’cause it’s the epitome of where I want to go with the future”
Stopping off to collaborate on the single ‘We’ll Be A Dream’ with We The Kings, the now 19-year old artist unleashed Unbroken, where she cited Rihanna as a positive influence, dealt intelligently with her rehab issues and used her music as a form of enjoyable therapy that wowed the most far-sighted reviewers. Praise flowed for ‘Skyscraper’ and the new R&B direction of ‘Hold Up’ and ‘Who’s That Boy’. The intense ‘My Love Is Like A Star’ was compared to Mary J Blige. Missy Elliott and Timbaland are featured on ‘All Night Long’ and there are cameos from Dev, Iyaz and Jason Derulo.
Not resting on her laurels, Lovato vowed to wipe the slate clean with a new approach on Demi (2013). Embracing more cutting-edge tech and a new musical mood, it slotted into the airwaves all summer, resulting in the big hits like ‘Heart Attack’, ‘Made In The USA’, ‘Neon Lights’ and ‘Really Don’t Care’. That single landed her in the dance charts, along with British-born Cher Lloyd as a guest singer, and spread an empowerment message about facing up to childhood bullying and the problems faced by the LGBT community.
If that was enough to disarm the snootiest of critics, she snagged wins at both the Teen Choice and Radio Disney Music Awards, as further vindication. Then in 2015 came her fifth studio album, Confident, an accumulation of all her best work brought to fruition in one fantastic package. She announced the arrival via a series of Twitter posts, stating “I’ve never been more confident in my sound. Never been so sure of who I am as an artist. Never felt this hungry and driven.” She further described the album as “very authentic to who I am”. Her first release on the new Safehouse Records imprint, created by her old friend Nick Jonas and their manager Phil McIntyre, it backs up her surefire nature as an artist and performer. Hungry, driven and ‘Cool For The Summer’, as the lead single suggested, Confident was promoted with an ingenious scavenger hunt for hidden boxes in different locations. A kind of treasure hunt that, when unearthed, included teasers for the main disc.
The deluxe edition boosts the original 11 tracks with unreleased and remixed material, including the standout Jump Smokers vibed-up ‘Cool For The Summer’. The record also featured some surprise guests, including Iggy Azalea’s rap on ‘Kingdome Come’ and Sirah’s hip-hop colorations on ‘Waitin For You’. Most intriguing of all is the collaboration with Persian-Swedish indie-folk artist Laleh Pourkarim on ‘Stone Cold’, a rip-your-guts-out post-love affair song with cello, synth and Demi’s best vocals and piano part to date.
Meantime, check out the thrilling duet and real country diamond ‘Without A Fight’, where Lovato synchs alongside Brad Paisley on a raunchy number that wouldn’t disgrace Eagles in their pomp. Snaffle that up and then set about discovering Demi Lovato as she grows into a role that includes her own heroes – Whitney Houston, Billie Holiday, Mariah Carey and kindred spirits Christina Aguilera and Kelly Clarkson. Whether she’s bossing a big pop sound or stripping it down to the bone, this girl can really sing.
Considering that Demi Lovato's debut album, Don't Forget, appeared in the fall of 2008, just as Miley Cyrus was inching away from Hannah Montana and into more adult territory, it's hard not to think that Demi isn't being groomed as a replacement for Miley, but a better musical comparison for this Radio Disney queen is the Jonas Brothers. Lovato appeared in the Disney TV movie Rock Camp with the Brothers and toured with them prior to the release of Don't Forget, but the more crucial connection between the two camps is revealed in the album's credits: six of the 11 songs here were co-written by the Jonas Brothers. Given this, it shouldn't come as a great surprise that Demi's music sounds a lot like the Brothers: it's bright, sugary, snappy power pop, fueled by big, fuzzy guitars and big, muscular hooks. Unlike the Brothers' 2008 album, A Little Bit Longer, there is no attempt to sell Demi Lovato to an audience broader than tweens, so this is pure, unapologetic bubblegum, a fizzy rush of singalong hooks occasionally punctuated by a bit of sighing puppy love, which surfaces most strongly on "On the Line," an actual duet with the Jonas Brothers. This is fine fodder for a middle school slow dance, but what's really memorable about Don't Forget is its parade of urgent, insistent guitar pop -- the kind of pop that feels disposable but winds up sticking around longer than its more considered cousins. This kind of trashy fun was missing on A Little Bit Longer, so it's nice to find that it surfaces proudly on Don't Forget. It's pure pop for tween people. Words: Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Like Britney Spears before her, Demi Lovato pretty much admits in the title of her sophomore album that she's serving up more of the same the second time around, but unlike Britney, that may not have been Demi's intention. For Here We Go Again, Lovato makes a relatively clean break from the Jonas Brothers, who penned much of her debut, Don't Forget, drafting sensitive AAA singer/songwriters Jon McLaughlin and John Mayer presumably to give Lovato a bit of mature veneer, a subtle shift buried underneath the relentlessly cheerful Radio Disney production and Lovato's irrepressible spunk. Both sonic characteristics tend to camouflage Demi's biggest moves away from teen pop -- the fussy balladeering of "Falling Over Me," the mock-Mraz jazz-pop "Every Time You Lie," the sober soul searching of the Mayer collaboration "World of Chances," the Celtic flair of "Gift of a Friend" -- which also happen to be the very things that make Here We Go Again not quite as much fizzy fun as Don't Forget. Not quite as much fun, but still fun, particularly when Lovato tears into hooky power pop like "Here We Go Again," "Solo," "Remember December," and the stomping "So Far So Great," the theme song to the TV show Sonny with a Chance, songs that are ideally matched to Lovato's adolescent energy and spirit, which remain her most appealing qualities. Words: Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Demi Lovato is never shy with her album titles. She shrugged that her second album offered more of the same (Here We Go Again), she bounced back whole from a turbulent spell (Unbroken), then she found a new mature identity (Demi) and, now on her fifth album, she's all about being Confident. Deservedly so, too, because this 2015 album is Lovato's best all-around record since her 2008 debut, Don't Forget. Confident is steely, assured dance and shimmering electro-pop, as much a reflection of its time as the sugary blast of Radio Disney pop on Don't Forget. If that debut seemed somewhat driven by producers, Confident feels directed by Lovato, who seems to take some pride in being a bit of a pop magpie, sampling from every glittering sound flickering across the pop charts in the two years since Demi. She's fortunate to be aided by some of the best producers and writers in the business. Max Martin collaborates on three tracks, the same number as Steve Mac, with Stargate and Ryan Tedder showing up elsewhere, and while their work helps Lovato echo everyone from Katy Perry to Beyoncé, it never quite seems like the singer is mimicking her fellow divas: instead, she's carving out her persona -- something sexy, flinty, and impassioned, the stance of a survivor, not a carpetbagger -- through the best of what's around. Given this boldness, it's little surprise that Demi often fares best with the numbers that are brassy: the big, heavy swing of the title track, the same-sex seduction of "Cool for the Summer," the empowering "For You" and "Lionheart," the latter a gleaming wall of sound. When the tempo slows, Lovato can sometimes stumble -- "Father" is spare and skeletal but indistinct, a sketch that is nevertheless preferable to the shoehorned Iggy Azalea cameo on "Kingdom Come" -- yet here, she also illustrates how she can affect Lana Del Rey's affectless effect and conjure some of the lushness of Ellie Goulding's neon-streaked midnight anthems, so when these ballads are added to the brighter, swifter numbers, the cumulative result is a messy, colorful modern pop record that is greater than the sum of its parts. Words: Stephen Thomas Erlewine