HOLLYWOOD—Back in 2008, Demi Lovato was a fresh-faced Disney star. She has always been a delight from her kids TV show to her platinum-selling music career, via stints on “The X Factor” and the sitcom “Will & Grace.” But she’s never fulfilled the promise of a Demi Lovato metal album…until now. The singer’s eighth album, “Holy Fvck,” is a sonic assault of razor blade guitars and throat-scorching vocals that strips away the radio-friendly veneer of her earlier material.
She signaled the stylistic shift earlier this year with an Instagram post captioned:
“A funeral for my pop music.” In the accompanying photo, Lovato raised both middle fingers to the camera, while surrounded by her record label team. The music’s dark hues are matched by Lovato’s lyrics, which document the latest twists in her complicated journey through alcohol and drug addiction, mental health issues, treatment and recovery. She started writing the album after a voluntary stint in rehab last December, which exposed a lot of “unresolved trauma” from her 20 years in the spotlight. Released on August 19, the album has already given the star career-best reviews, with published reports calling it a “howl of brilliance” and hard rock anthems.
The opening track, “Freak,” addresses the hateful comments Lovato received after coming out as non-binary last year, she initially asked to be referred to as they/them, but recently announced she was accepting she/her pronouns. “Eat Me,” meanwhile, is directed as Lovato’s old team, who packaged the singer up as a femme fatale and tried to tame her wilder instincts. “Be more predictable, be less political…Clean and digestible, less of a spectacle,” she drawls over a buzzsaw riff, caustically ticking off the advice she received. “One of the lines is, “Would you like me better if I was still her?” says Lovato, “and I’m referring to a period of time in my life where I was this hyper-feminine pop star that everyone else wanted me to be.
“I was on stage in leotards and stilettos, and that’s never been comfortable to me. And so Eat Me was definitely a song where I was talking about how I’m tired of spoon feeding myself to the public.” That song is just basically saying, “This is who I am, take it or leave it.” On “29,” Lovato’s anger turns towards the much older partner she became romantically involved with at the age of 18.
“Numbers told you not to,” she sings, “but that didn’t stop you.” The song appears to be about “That 70s Show” actor Wilmer Valderrama, who Lovato dated between 2010 and 2016. In the past, the star has credited him with helping her through her substance abuse problems. “He’s loved me the way I never thought I deserved to be love,” she wrote on Instagram in 2015. “I really wouldn’t be alive today without him.”
But turning 29-the age Valderrama was when they started dating-appears to have put a new perspective on the relationship. “When you are a teenager, you think you know what’s best for you,” says Lovato. “Even in your 20s you think. I wrote the song from a very vulnerable place. It was something that I needed to get off my chest.” Lovato was careful not to name Valderrama directly in her interview and a representative for the actor declined to comment. In the interim, “29” has gone viral on TikTok, with dozens of fans using the audio to soundtrack their own accounts of dating older men. Lovato’s album takes aim at the church, where she felt ostracized for her sexuality; and at the tabloid press, for the salacious way they report on her health issues.
The singer has never been any less than upfront about her personal problems: An eating disorder that started in childhood, harrowing sexual abuse as a teenager, and the subsequent self-harm, depression, and drug and alcohol addictions that culminated in a near-fatal heroin overdose in 2018. That incident resulted in three strokes, a heart attack and brain damage that left the singer temporarily blind, according to published reports. It came after a long period of sobriety, during which she felt she was losing her identity.
Rose’s Scoop: We wish her nothing but success in her new album. Condolences go out to the Sheppard family for the loss of their stepmom Mary Sheppard, August 6, 2022 (Bob Sheppard wife) especially my friend Chris Sheppard.