Demi Lovato: Staying True to Self

Demi Lovato has identified as non-binary, but has stated that the she/her pronouns are fine, so that's what I'm going with for this article.

 If you asked me to say the title of a single Demi Lovato song prior to a few days ago, I would have been unable to come up with anything.  Pop music isn't my jam, and never has been.  I'm not bashing it or anyone who enjoys it, I just haven't been attracted to it.  There are a few songs over the years that have won me over, but, as a whole, I really can't get into this genre of music.

And yet, here I am listening to Demi Lovato's latest album for the third time.  After years of pop music, the musician has shunned what is expected of her and has delved into indulging her personal love of metal.  Yes, she has now released a metal album.

This isn't going to be any sort of review of the album, because I don't have a solid enough knowledge of modern metal to make any informed statements.  Metal has been a massive part of my past.  In high school I was hooked on bands such as Pantera, Sepultura, Prong, White Zombie, Anthrax, and many others.  During the late 90s and into the 2000s, the evolution of screamo signalled my checking out from metal.  It became difficult to find music that I liked, and my tastes were also evolving.

Lovato's latest album, Holy Fvck, is interesting enough.  There are many influences that can be found within the 16 songs.  From punk to industrial metal (and some clear influences from her pop career), the album appears to be a carthartic process for Lovato.  I know very little about her life, but the lyrics make it apparent that there is a lot being said and dealt with through the tracks.  Her career in pop meant her image needed to be carefully controlled, and she was forced to be something she wasn't.  Now, she has made the decision to abandon that world and do what she wants.

This move is something that I fully respect.  It's not about whether or not I like the album.  I do enjoy a number of songs on it, and will possibly return to it occasionally.  What really strikes me is the courage to make this shift.  

A lot of artists, from actors to authors and musicians, can get pigeonholed into one specific area of success.  For Lovato, pop was the breadwinning genre.  For her to make this transformation is really putting her future career on the line.  There is a strong chance she may alienate her fanbase, who isn't used to her performing this kind of music.  There is also a risk that metalheads may not accept her into the fold due to her much more commercial history of pop music.

Holy Fvck is a massive risk, but it is always encouraging to see incidents like this when someone comes to the point where it is more important to do what they love over the need to keep their fanbase engaged.  Art can be confused with commerce at certain points, and I don't doubt that Lovato felt (from the few interviews I've read) that she was stuck in a cycle of feeding the money machine and not being true to herself.

Any time an artist chooses to be true to themselves, I will applaud them.  I can imagine that the allure of guaranteed success can be a hard path to turn from, and to put a career in possible jeopardy to create something that is true the individual is brave.  Hopefully, this will be an example to others who feel like they are stuck not creating what they want.  Good on Demi, I say.  Maybe more people across movies, television, books, and music may take that frightening decision to focus on what they want over what the industries want.