By Olivia Krumpe
The past few weeks have been big for Demi Lovato with the release of her seventh studio album, “Dancing with the Devil…The Art of Starting Over,” along with her four-part docuseries on YouTube, “Dancing with the Devil.” This is the 28-year-old’s first album release since her overdose in July 2018, which is the predominant topic of the album and documentary.
The first two episodes of the docuseries were available to everyone beginning March 23. At 22 minutes each, the episodes packed a punch and put it all on the table.
The first episode focused on what led to Lovato’s relapse up to the night of her overdose. Episode two recounted the morning after her overdose through her time in the hospital, with friends and family sharing their experiences. The heavy topic was conveyed beautifully, using sketch animations to illustrate what happened in a simplistic way.
There was testimony from Jordan Jackson, Lovato’s assistant at the time who found her first. Other testimonies from her head of security, sisters, parents and a few of her close friends described their experiences on the morning of and days after Lovato’s overdose.
The third episode, entitled “reclaiming power,” was released on March 30 and explained Lovato’s time after the overdose, going through rehab, relapsing and signing with a new manager, Scooter Braun.
The fourth and final episode became available on April 6 and discussed Lovato’s life during quarantine, including her whirlwind engagement.
Between the third and fourth episodes, on April 2, Lovato’s 19-track album dropped. After hearing the stories told through the docuseries, the lyrics leave a lasting impact due to the rawness and honesty conveyed with every line.
The first track of the album is “Anyone,” which was first released in January 2020
after Lovato performed it at the Grammys. The song was first written and recorded mere days before her overdose.
The pain in her vocals and pleading lyrics, such as “Anyone, please send me anyone/Lord is there anyone?/I need someone,” serve as a chilling prologue to the rest of the album.
“Dancing with the Devil” is the album’s second track, as well as one of the singles off the album. It emulates the night of her overdose in many ways. The music video, also released on April 2, is a recreation of that day. Not only is the song one of the best off the album, but it truly serves as part of the theme for the entirety of Lovato’s latest era centering around coping with addiction and recovery.
Lines such as “Almost made it to heaven/It was closer than you know,” are direct correlations to the overdose. In episode two of the docuseries, she explains how close she was to dying.
“I had three strokes,” Lovato said. “I had a heart attack. I suffered brain damage from the strokes. I can’t drive anymore, and I have blind spots in my vision…I had pneumonia because I asphyxiated and [had] multiple organ failure.”
“Dancing with the Devil” is essentially Lovato with the slow tempo, somber tone and powerful belts at the chorus, along with a shattering high note at the bridge.
Track five serves as the title track for the latter half of the album’s name. “The Art of Starting Over” also serves as the theme for the aspects of the album that “Dancing with the Devil” does not cover, including recovery. The songs are truly opposites, both in sound and lyrics. “The Art of Starting Over” has an upbeat melody with a slight swing to it.
With lyrics like “Give me a pen/I’m rewriting another ending,” “I guess I’m mastering the art of starting over” and “I let the darkness out,” the song creates an image of Lovato turning a new leaf in her life after her overdose and finally trying to be in a better place.
“Dancing with the Devil” and “The Art of Starting Over” are the yin and yang of songs. However, both are vital in order to fully grasp how the singer went from being minutes away from death to taking advantage of what she has deemed as her “ninth life.”
The songs on the album deal with a variety of different topics, not just her overdose. “Melon Cake” is about Lovato’s struggle with eating disorders. She reveals how her former team was so controlling over her eating in order to prevent a relapse that their efforts contributed to her drug relapse.
“What Other People Say” is a collaboration with Sam Fischer about Lovato succumbing to the societal pressures of Hollywood and the entertainment industry. “15 Minutes” is a breakup song about a past relationship where her partner was only looking for fame with the relationship.
Lovato’s latest era packs a punch. The docuseries is not for faint of heart, dealing with topics such as drug abuse, sexual assault and eating disorders. It sheds light on these serious issues. Lovato’s voice is apparent throughout the entirety of her LP, showing that, despite all she’s been through, she is still a powerhouse female artist.