Demi Lovato's Back Catalogue: 7 Pre-'Demi' Highlights
Do you only know "Give Your Heart a Break"? Here's a primer on the rising pop star's back catalogue.
Over the past year Demi Lovato has become increasingly inescapable as a pop music persona, but for many she's still known for her gig as Simon Cowell's sparring partner on the American version of "The X Factor" than for her radio offerings. Her recent stint as a reality show judge means that a lot more people will be paying attention to her newest album, "Demi," which the singer released on Tuesday (May 14) -- but how many of those people are aware of what Lovato has already accomplished musically? Those who only know her breakout single "Give Your Heart a Break" would be surprised to find the high quality of her first three albums, beginning with her 2008 debut, "Don't Forget."
As a public service, Billboard.com is highlighting seven essential Lovato tracks from her pre-"Demi" career, so that newcomers can play catch up on the catchy wonder of the Disney princess turned pop-rock goddess.
"This Is Me"
Found On: "Camp Rock" original soundtrack
Lovato's first public splash as a singer was in the Disney Channel original movie "Camp Rock," and in the film, "This Is Me" catapults the romantic thrust of the plot. Lovato's character writes and sings the song while remaining unnoticed by Joe Jonas' character, and later reveals herself with a talent show performance that ends in a duet between the two. It's solid Disney pop about the shy girl who has a dream inside her and just has to let the world know. Lovato has matured considerably since then in her sonic and lyrical style, but "This Is Me" is the ground floor of her singing career.
Found In: "As The Bell Rings" (not released commercially)
Of course, you can also start below that ground floor with Lovato's pre-"Camp Rock" and pre-solo album music, like "Shadow" from her first Disney show, "As The Bell Rings." There's a handful of tracks floating around featuring a very young, very under-produced Lovato trying out different styles, but "Shadow" stands out. On the television version, it's a slow acoustic track alongside the show's male lead, but with just Lovato, "Shadow" become a pop-punk anthem. You can certainly imagine an alternate universe where Lovato becomes Hayley Williams 2.0.
Found On: "Don't Forget"
Lovato's first solo album arrived in 2008 to much Disney-laden fanfare, and tracks like "Get Back" didn't disappoint. "Get Back" falls in the half of her debut album written and produced by the Jonas Brothers, and the kicky track flips the script on the teen breakup narrative to deliver a song about reconciliation. The track has an early-Ashlee Simpson vibe, one that requires constant bouncing and just a few hair flips. While Lovato now tends to shine in the softer moments, "Get Back" reminds listeners that she can also rock.
Found On: "Here We Go Again"
"Remember December" marks Lovato's headfirst dive into power-pop on sophomore album "Here We Go Again," released only a year after her debut. "Remember December" speeds along, explodes into pure dance-rock, then slinks back for the verses, like a meeting of Pat Benatar and Kelly Clarkson. The song begs an ex-sweetheart to remember the good times and come back; by the end of the track, it's hard to imagine anyone saying no to her calls.
"For The Love of A Daughter"
Found On: "Unbroken"
Co-written with William Beckett from The Academy Is..., the song -- originally slated for "Here We Go Again" but shelved and resurrected for its follow-up, "Unbroken" -- explores Lovato's complicated relationship with her father. In recent years the depth of Lovato's charm has gone beyond her vocal prowess and sweet, infectious smile to become intertwined with her ability to authentically explore less-than-sunny topics. The raw emotion and commitment in "For The Love Of A Daughter" is one of the first examples of Lovato stepping out and pushing beyond what's easy.
Found On: "Unbroken"
Lovato's struggles with addiction, an eating disorder and self-harm have been well-documented in the media, and a source of connection and inspiration between Lovato and her young fans. "Skyscraper," which debuted at No. 10 on the Hot 100 chart, allows Lovato to be weak and strong at the same time, and inspires the kind of moment in her concerts where you can't help but push your arms above your head and reach for something. From the song's haunting piano intro to its wavering climax, we follow Lovato the whole way and watch a vocal star emerge in real time. Okay, okay, "Skyscraper" might not be a hidden treasure per se, but it's essential listening for Demi novices.
"How To Love"
Lil Wayne Cover
Lovato has covered the likes of Aretha Franklin, John Mayer and Bon Jovi throughout the years, but none of her vocal takes is more impressive than her spin on Lil Wayne's hit ballad. On the promotional tour for "Unbroken" she started covering "How To Love" with her own R&B soul spin, and Lovato switches the lyrics to first person, so instead of being a song about Wayne telling a woman who "never figured out how to love" that she's worthwhile, Lovato claims her own past.