Pop musician Demi Lovato has been no stranger to self-confidence issues; just a short time ago, Lovato very publicly addressed her on-going issues with addiction, mental illness, and self-harm. However, the former Disney Channel star’s latest release is titled Confident, which is in no way a misnomer. Lovato’s album – undoubtedly her strongest yet – showcases her talent, versatility, and new-found confidence in a record that is more than a simple pop album.
The album opens up with the title track, which begins with lyrics as defiant as the blaring trumpets. Beneath the song’s upbeat pop-anthem exterior lies a message that embodies what Lovato stands for, adding a touch of depth to what could easily be just-another-pop-song. This immediately leads into Confident’s first single, ‘Cool For The Summer’, which has become one of the year’s most popular songs. However, this song may be one of the weakest of the album; it has little substance beyond its manufactured guitar riffs, catchy but uninspired lyrics, and comparatively lacking vocals. The song certainly seems to be the least creative of the album, and seems to have been cranked out for marketing purposes.
Despite the generally over-worked feel of the album’s first two singles ‘Cool for the Summer’ and ‘Confident’, Lovato’s record has a varied sound, despite its categorization as Dance Pop. Songs such as ‘Kingdom Come’ (featuring Iggy Azalea), ‘Old Ways’, and ‘Waitin for You’ (featuring Sirah) make use of rap and trap influences, adding another variation to what could have easily been a one-dimensional pop record. The track ‘Wildfire’ also employs sounds of electronica, with a slow, sultry beat and seductive lyrics and vocals which pull Lovato away from teen pop and into a sexier adult role.
“‘Cool for the Summer’…seems to have been cranked out for marketing purposes”
With influences of other genres working to add variation to her album, Lovato still stays true to her own genre with powerful pop anthems that illustrate her strong vocal ability. The track ‘For You’, with its strong chorus and synth-pop instrumentals, is reminiscent of Born this Way-era Gaga, while ‘Lionheart’ is evocative of 2014 Sia. While her songs seem similar to those of other powerful pop voices, Lovato’s distinct voice and sheer power differentiates her from others in the charts.
Even more powerful than her anthems are the immensely powerful ballads that, some may say, make Lovato’s Confident truly great. ‘Father’, which pays homage to her late father, is deeply sentimental and can be considered the most beautiful and most meaningful song on the album. Lovato fearlessly tackles difficult topics in this track, including religion, death, and her broken relationship with her father. ‘Stone Cold’ is also an eerily beautiful ballad in which Lovato croons for a lost lover; her voice is strong and brimming with emotion, and the listener feels the pain along with her.
While Demi Lovato’s Confident has some elements of tragically manufactured pop music, her appropriately-named album confronts issues that many celebrities would deliberately avoid. It also incorporates sounds from many popular genres of music, and it highlights Lovato’s powerful voice and talent. The record showcases a more grown-up and confident Lovato; the album is vastly more sophisticated than her unrefined, immature Disney-era sound. One can only hope that it is this side of Demi that continues to make music in the coming years.
Aubrey is currently listening to “One Time” by Marian Hill
Co-Editor of the Music Section at University of Nottingham’s IMPACT Magazine.