Demi Lovato – “Dancing with the Devil… the Art of Starting Over” Review

Story posted April 7, 2021 in Arts & Entertainment, CommRadio by Jimmy Lu

Demi Lovato dropped her seventh studio album “Dancing with the Devil… the Art of Starting Over” after taking a hiatus from her career in 2018 when she was hospitalized for a drug overdose.

The album was accompanied by a YouTube Original documentary series “Demi Lovato: Dancing with the Devil.” The series details Lovato’s journey throughout the years after her near-fatal overdose.

Lovato opens the album with “Anyone,” a song that she debuted at last year’s Grammy Awards. The performance was met with acclaim from critics. The lyrics talk about Lovato’s feelings of isolation and how she tried to reach out for help.

The second track, “Dancing with the Devil,” is a more upbeat, confessional ballad that reminisces her 2017 single, “Tell Me You Love Me” with the soaring chorus and R&B pop production. 

“Melon Cake” is a reference to one of Lovato’s interviews where she shared that her former team controlled her diet, and she’s only allowed to eat a melon cake on her birthday instead of an actual birthday cake.

One of the most highly anticipated songs of the album is “Met Him Last Night,” which features Ariana Grande. The song signifies Grande’s second feature with another female pop artist since the Grammy-winning song “Rain On Me” with Lady Gaga, along with her 2020 album release “Positions.”

“Met Him Last Night” is a dark, electro-pop song with flirtatious lyrics. Although Lovato and Grande’s voices do go well together, the collaboration falls a bit flat and feels unnecessary when compared to the album’s powerful duet with Australian singer Sam Fischer on “What Other People Say.”

Lovato said that “What Other People Say” is about slowly losing yourself in order to please other people. Fischer and Lovato have real vocal chemistry on the track, and the chorus hits harder each time it comes in.

“The Way You Don’t Look at Me” and “Good Place” see Lovato stripped back to just a simple acoustic guitar and her voice. “The Way You Don’t Look at Me” talks about Lovato’s struggle with eating disorder, and “Good Place” celebrates her journey of recovery.

The album constantly bounces back and forth between simple power ballads and upbeat electro-pop songs, which is similar to Lovato’s 2017 album, “Tell Me You Love Me.” However, “Dancing with the Devil… the Art of Starting Over” is a more subtle album that is not only lyrically superior but also details Lovato’s personal life, unlike any of her previous projects.

Lovato’s artistry can often be overlooked in her old music, but in this album, she seems to be in full artistic control by knowing exactly what she wants to say and how she wants to tell her story.

“Dancing with the Devil… the Art of Starting Over” is a strong return for Lovato. She has found the music that best suits her voice. Although some tracks could be left on the shelf, and some collabs didn’t quite hit the nail, Lovato’s emotional and powerful vocals soar through every single track.

Rating: 7/10

Reviewer's Favorite Song: “What Other People Say”

Reviewer's Least Favorite Song: “The Art of Starting Over”

 

Jimmy (Chien-Hsing) Lu is a senior majoring in telecommunications. To contact him, email jfl5603@psu.edu.