The first blog I ever wrote was a review on Demi Lovato’s Don’t Forget album in middle school journalism class. It seems only appropriate to come full circle with a college journalism class, and Demi’s new album, Confident.
We had a great discussion a few weeks ago in my Race, Gender and the Media class during a presentation on Mariah Carey, and her transformation from innocent musician to sexy diva over the span of her now 14 albums. We discussed how the media portrays women as needing to be sexy, as I’ve discussed on this blog before, but also how the music industry as a whole transforms singers.
When Demi first started out as a shy, gap-toothed awkward girl on Camp Rock, she was one of my favorite performers. Her voice was powerful, she was just rebellious enough to be fun, but not a bad influence, and she was friends with the Jonas Brothers. To middle school Holly, this was idol-worthy.
But then, over the course of a few years, things changed. When Demi started on her Disney channel show Sonny With a Chance, she changed. A lot. Her red carpet looks got less her, more glam. She lost a LOT of weight, which made me, as a curvier girl, feel uncomfortable. And then, on her world tour with the Jonas Brothers, she got into a fight with one of her dancers.
Demi had gone from being my innocent idol to a Disney rebel in what seemed like no time flat. And I lost the few connections I still had left with someone I’d looked up to.
It took a while for me to find reasons to like Demi again. I watched her climb back to stardom after entering a rehab facility, finishing treatment and very soon after making a statement that she had not only had a mental breakdown, but was dealing with addiction issues and bulimia, which explained why she had lost so much weight. Most of the issues she was facing were due to the pressures of being a teen girl – who started at 15 – in an industry that pressures women to be perfect and perky all the time.
But there are so many stars who try to come back after these big incidents and blame the events in their lives for all their issues, either pretending they didn’t happen or falling back into the cycle time and time again. What made me respect Demi again is that she used her issues as a platform to help other people – she’s spoken out against media that belittles eating disorders, created a foundation for mental illness after her father, who also struggled with mental illness, passed away, and has become an anti-bullying advocate, due to her experiences with bullying during school.
While her three other albums Here We Go Again, Unbroken and Demi weren’t my favorite, the messages Confident sends are very similar to Demi’s first album, Don’t Forget. With tracks like “Stone Cold” and “Confident,” it’s definitely got a similar vibe of girl power and “I don’t need a man for my happiness,” which is what originally made Demi successful.
And as for Demi becoming an idol again? Well, her relationship with Wilmer Valderrama is pretty damn adorable, but I feel like Demi’s still too much a part of the machine for my tastes – and all the studded jumpsuits are a little scary.
But hey, you never know. Artists reinvent themselves all the time. We could see a return to old school Demi. But if not, I’m okay just listening to her music on the radio if it comes on.
In the mean time…