Love it or hate it, Demi Lovato's "Cool For The Summer" is undeniably the pop star's most self-assured statement to date. The new single shoves the listener into blissful submission, as the former Disney star swaps out the breathy flirtatiousness of "Heart Attack" with imperative sentences and not-too-subtle bi-curious cheekiness. The lyrical assertiveness is impressively matched by the forceful production flourishes courtesy of Max Martin and Wolf Cousins: the chorus employs an orotund electric guitar riff that recalls the showiness of Ariana Grande's "Problem" horn stabs, and even the piano melody features in the song's quieter corners gets a healthy accompaniment of thundering synthesizer. "Cool For The Summer" is a bulldozer of a single, pushing Lovato's arena-ready pop-rock sound is cranked up to 11.
Crucially, however, Lovato balances out the bombast with an effectively understated vocal take. With such a powerful set of pipes, Lovato would normally approach a line like "Tell me what you want, what you like, it's okay/I'm a little curious too" head-on; instead, she dances around each syllable before pressing firmly against the final one. The result is a more well-rounded performance, a sly wink of a return that hints at the promise of Lovato's adult career. Many will focus on the sexual suggestiveness of a line like "Got a taste for the cherry/I just need to take a bite." See the big picture, and realize that Demi Lovato has become a more complex, unpredictable and powerful pop artist with "Cool For The Summer."