Story by Nick Erickson, Contributing writer
Like many before her, Demi Lovato has managed to break free from her Disney roots as an innocent child star and grab the music industry’s full attention.
The 23-year-old pop singer, who once appeared on shows ranging from “Barney and Friends” as a tot to her own show as a teenager, “Sonny With A Chance,” just debuted her newest album, “Confident.”
This is her fifth album, and arguably the strongest of her career, with enough edge to draw in even the most unlikely of audiences.
Lovato’s 2013 album “Demi” brought her huge commercial success, with the hit single “Heart Attack,” which has surpassed 350 million views on YouTube. There is clearly pressure on her to deliver an album as successful as this, and she manages to do this right from the beginning of the album.
Lovato makes it abundantly clear from the opening and title track “Confident” that she’s here to make a bold impression with this album, with the inflated line, “It’s all about me tonight.” This track features a synthesized trumpet and horn ensemble and beats that make it hard not to move to the music. It was a great choice for a first track, giving listeners a taste of the rest of the album.
The first single from the album, “Cool for the Summer,” proves to be a really strong track. Kicking off with a tinkling piano melody, it jumps right into a beautifully written verse with some distorted guitar mixed in. The intimate lyrics will appeal to many, and her vocals throughout the chorus are explosive as Lovato shows us just how well she can control and apply her versatile vocal range.
“Take me down into your paradise. Don’t be scared ‘cause I’m your body type.
Just something that we wanna try. ‘Cause you and I, we’re cool for the summer.”
There are several points across “Confident” that really stand out. “Kingdom Come,” for example, features a quick verse from rapper Iggy Azalea, adding a bit of flare to the track list. It fits in seamlessly. Rapper Sirah, known for her Skrillex collaborations, contributes to “Waitin’ For You” with hostility against an ex-lover. “Got my name in your mouth, forgive me when I knock it out.”
The emotional closer to the album, “Father,” is without a doubt the highlight of Lovato’s career. She sings with gut-wrenching honesty about her deceased father, with whom she had been estranged before his death. As she sings of her guilt and regret about his passing, a layer of delicate piano chords and backing choir soothe the listener. The ending takes a turn as Lovato belts from the top of her lungs her mixed emotions on her fathers passing.
“You did your best, or did you? Sometimes I think I hate you. I’m sorry, Dad, for feeling this. I can’t believe I’m saying it.”
This track is a roller coaster of raw passion, and brings the album to an overwhelming, powerful ending.
Lovato has grown immensely over the past decade. Her days as sugar-sweet Disney tween are long gone, and now she’s here to say exactly what the album title says: She’s confident she can make a name for herself.
“Confident” is packed with catchy hooks, uplifting dance beats, sure, but where the album shines even more is the emotion put into it. There’s a lot more meaning behind pop music than meets the eye in the world today, and Lovato is making that clear.