There should be a formula for Disney stars turned wannabe hit makers and chart-topping artists. Unlike her predecessors Hillary Duff and Miley Cyrus, Demi Lovato has crafted an interesting and impressive set with Unbroken that makes a creative statement while not alienating her loyal, Disney fan base.
Unbroken is the perfect journey for a 19-year-old girl who’s been drug across the coals and is still trying to find her way in a world clogged with too much emphasis on sex appeal and very little on talent. Lovato, however, breaks the mold set by current pop divas Lady Gaga, Britney Spears, Ke$ha, and Katy Perry to shift the musical landscape into heartfelt and sincere songs that simply cater to the theatrical crowd.
The first four tracks are mostly star-studded affairs that offer little to an album that would have benefited more with their omission, but they are what help establish her journey. Also, these four tracks — “All Night Long,” “Who’s That Boy,” “You’re My Shorty,” and “Together” — are what will satisfy her built-in fan base.
With the next track comes the album’s first tear-jerking moment, “Lightweight,” and there is almost an audible, crunching shift in its tone from dance-club-ready jams to gut-wrenching and emotional performances. “I’m a lightweight, easy to fall, easy to break, with every move my world shakes,” Lovato cries in the chorus. Her emotional delivery here soaks through from a place of absolute pleading. As a highlight of Unbroken, “Lightweight,” would have been the perfect album opener, though its place in the set makes it a delightful surprise.
Taking a cue from Britney Spears’ Femme Fatale, “Unbroken,” the title track, has a cleverly delicious keyboard and electric backing. “I’m gonna love you like I’ve never been broken,” Lovato sings. Even though a brittle dance beat supports her vocals, the emotional energy punctures its way into the ear drums. A fist-pumping anthem, its lyrics are heavy and meaningful, surging through the veins. This track, in all its synthesized glory, fittingly sets up the piano-driven gem, “Fix a Heart,” which is a desperate however heartfelt plea of sorts. “I try to sever ties and I ended up with wounds to bind like you’re pouring salt in my cuts,” she swoons on the first verse. Lovato’s pain runs so deep that this soul-baring song feels like a punch in the gut. If she’s learned one thing this past year, it’s how to be brutally and often painfully honest.
Lovato continues to pour on the heavy emotional syrup with the next three tracks — “Hold Up,” “Mistake,” and “Give Your Heart a Break” — without skimping on the electrically forceful instrumentation. The album then takes on its most autobiographical tone with the climactic “Skyscraper,” which contains some of Lovato’s finest vocals to date. She pulls back, belts, and sweetly sings in all the right places to deliver the performance of her career.
“In Real Life” and “My Love is Like a Star,” despite lacking a similarly deep or emotional impact, further illustrate her growth and maturity as a credible artist. Save for the Wizz Dumb Remix of “Skyscraper,” “For the Love of a Daughter” takes a page right out of her life, closing out the album in stunning, tear-inducing style.
While Demi Lovato certainly has more growing to do, on Unbroken she suggests that over time she will prove herself more than capable. Lesser pop divas should take note from Miss Lovato she knows what she’s doing.
Must listens: “Lightweight,” “Fix a Heart,” “For the Life of a Daughter,” “Skyscraper”