By Hayden Wright
Demi Lovato has never been afraid to live out loud: From “Confident” to “Heart Attack” and “Really Don’t Care,” her signature is ballsy, confrontational pop that elevates blood pressure and dares her subjects to contradict her. Amid the toughness are flashes of vulnerability and the unvarnished truth about her struggles with addiction, mental illness and bullying.
On her sixth studio album Tell Me You Love Me, Demi dabbles in R&B and lets her softer side show. The record doesn’t mark a reinvention so much as a more sophisticated, self-assured restatement of the Demi we know and love. That’s a serious achievement for someone whose last album was titled Confident.
“It has a lot to do with my journey and my life and where I’m at today as a single 25-year-old woman who is living on her own for the first time [and] who has gone through a breakup that was really impactful, who is dating; you know, a bunch of stuff that you can relate to,” she told NPR.
Here are five great songs from Demi Lovato’s Tell Me You Love Me:
“Sorry Not Sorry”
The album’s lead single was selected for a reason: It’s amazing. Demi stares down her haters in brash, unapologetic form and tears into critics with blazing vocals. Like all her best singles, “Sorry Not Sorry” finds the rock and R&B shades in Demi’s voice and maximizes them for pop effect. It’s a bold, catchy track.
“You Don’t Do it for Me Anymore”
Much of Tell Me You Love Me is an album about breaking up: With its slinky, jazz-inflected arrangement, “You Don’t Do it for Me Anymore” evokes Rihanna’s “Love on the Brain.” Lyrically, Demi gets honest with a partner whose charms aren’t enough to keep their failing relationship alive. It’s the ultimate “It’s not me—it’s you” song.
“Daddy Issues” (Explicit)
On “Daddy Issues,” Demi playfully mocks her own unhealthy tendencies in partner selection: It’s a tongue-in-cheek ode to emotionally unavailable guys. The punchy beat and staccato delivery of the chorus adds drama and stakes to her exploration of the “perfect” type. “Lucky for you,” Demi sings, “I’ve got all these daddy issues.”
A stormy piano line and eclectic rhythm section make “Only Forever” an old-school, meditative ballad. Demi isn’t sure whether to make a move in this potential relationship, but knows she wants to be with the person forever. Her warm vocals are luxuriously layered through the chorus, reminiscent of Imogen Heap or Sade.
“Ruin the Friendship”
Demi recruited a brass section for this meditation on ruining a friendship with sex. Her come-ons to an attractive friend might sabotage their friendship, but she doesn’t care. Midcentury horns and trumpets help build flirty anticipation as Demi works to seal the deal.