Here We Go Again
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. That’s the approach Disney takes with its up-and-coming stars. With Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers, that’s meant TV shows followed by music and movies. Rinse. Repeat. Now we can add Demi Lovato to that list. If sales of her sophomore effort are any indication—fans snapped up 107,000 copies its first week, pushing it to the top of the album chart—the star of Disney’s Camp Rock and Sonny With a Chance has hit critical mass.
And with a title like Here We Go Again, fans shouldn’t be surprised that Demi serves up the same kind of frothy pop rock that propelled last year’s debut, Don’t Forget. The result is a bubblegum blast of grrl power in the sonic vein of Avril Lavigne, Kelly Clarkson, Pink and Alanis Morisette—though less edgy, lyrically, than any of those artists. Still, teenage angst (remember, Demi’s just 16) rules. It’s all about love, love, love—or the lack thereof.
"Gift of a Friend" reminds listeners that we can't pursue our aspirations or deal with disappointments without friends who help us "through the highs and the lows" and who remind us, "You're not alone." Likewise, "So Far So Great" (the theme song to Sonny With a Chance) pulsates with bouncy, chase-your-dreams optimism. Breakup songs "Solo" and "Everything You're Not" include solid messages about self-respect. "I want a gentleman who treats me like a queen," Demi sings on the latter. "I need respect, I need love/Nothing in between." Similar sentiments can be found on "U Got Nothin' on Me," which gives a deceptive beau with wandering eyes the ol' heave-ho. "Falling Over Me" is a sweet song about a girl who's praying that her crush will emerge from his clueless fog and notice her affection. "I'm hoping, I'm waiting, I'm praying you are the one," she pines on that track. "Quiet" longs for a communication breakthrough in an awkward relationship.
As was the case on her debut, Demi's dating decisions sometimes value chemistry over wisdom. "Here We Go Again" revolves around her on-again-off-again relationship with an indecisive guy. Still, she says, "Something about you is so addictive." On "Catch Me," she plunges ahead even though she knows "how badly this will hurt me." Another unhealthy connection is found on "Got Dynamite," which uses violent metaphors as an invitation for a guy to blow up Demi's defenses ("Log in and try to hack me/ ... Kick senseless, my defenses/ ... You might just need dynamite"). Four tracks include mild kissing references. "Stop the World" includes an imitative nod to an infamous criminal couple ("Like Bonnie and Clyde, let's find a ride").
Demi Lovato is barely eligible for her driver's license. But she belts out odes to pain like someone who's spent decades in the trenches of romantic warfare. "I've been broken," Demi tells us. "I've been used." Used? By whom? Disney? Suffice it to say, there's no shortage of drama when it comes to the Mouse House's latest teen ingenue. And while there's little on this album that genuinely trips alarm bells, Demi's overall attitude toward love and heartbreak often sounds as if it comes from someone who's 16 going on 32—a feeling that's reinforced by pouty liner note images that make the young singer and actress look more like a world-weary Vogue model than a spunky, relatively innocent teen.