Lovato arrived on Billboard's tallies in July 2008 with the single "This Is Me," a duet with Joe Jonas from their Disney Channel made-for-TV movie "Camp Rock." Though she released her debut album "Don't Forget" in 2008 and followed it up with "Here We Go Again" in 2009, neither recording generated a breakout radio hit. (She has, however, notched 15 hits, including two top 10s, on the Billboard Hot 100, primarily due to sales on the radio/sales/streaming hybrid chart.) In addition to "Camp Rock" and its 2010 sequel, Lovato starred in the Disney comedy series "Sonny With a Chance" from February 2009 through January 2011.
"That Disney Channel image can make it difficult for artists to connect with adults," says Tommy Chuck, PD for WFLZ Tampa Bay, Fla., the first top 40 station to play the single back in December 2011. "I really don't think she's had the right song until now."
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Lovato is the latest in a long line of Disney stars to cross over from TV stardom to major radio success, following such acts as Miley Cyrus and Selena Gomez. The latter scored her first Pop Songs top 10 hit this year with "Love You Like a Love Song," the second single from her third album, "When the Sun Goes Down."
As for "Give Your Heart a Break," the punchy tune came to Lovato thanks to a meeting between Billy Steinberg and Hollywood senior VP of A&R Jon Lind, two veteran songwriters with multiple Hot 100-topping singles of their own. Separately, the two friends have co-written No. 1 hits for Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, Vanessa Williams, Whitney Houston and Heart.
Steinberg and his writing partner Josh Alexander met with Lind in September 2010 and played him some songs, including "Give Your Heart a Break." Lind says he knew the song "had the arc and the intensity" in its melody and lyrics that Lovato would love.
Though not written specifically for her, Lovato did indeed embrace the track and wanted it for "Unbroken." While many cuts were considered for the album, Lind says there were only two songs from the early recordings that ended up making the grade: "Give Your Heart a Break" and "Skyscraper." The latter became "Unbroken's" first single, peaking at No. 33 on the Mainstream Top 40 chart and No. 10 on the Hot 100, mostly due to strong initial download sales.
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Robbie Snow, head of global marketing for Hollywood, says promotion for "Give Your Heart a Break" started in earnest this January, just weeks after the song's early lyric video premiered Dec. 23. A full video bowed on March 23. Combined, the two clips have earned 44 million views on Lovato's official YouTube channel.
Snow credits a number of activities for Lovato in 2012 that helped raise the single's exposure. In addition to major TV performances on CBS' "People's Choice Awards" (Jan. 11), Fox's "American Idol" (March 15) and ABC's "Good Morning America" (July 6), she co-hosted Fox's "Teen Choice Awards" (July 21) and embarked on a well-received tour.
Lovato's stardom -- and chart success -- may only grow in the coming months: She'll debut as a judge on Fox's "The X Factor" Sept. 12.