Dancing With The Devil … The Art of Starting Over

Album cover for Demi Lovato's "Dancing With the Devil ... The Art of Starting Over."

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Kristin Smith

Album Review

Demi Lovato has just released her long-awaited seventh studio album, Dancing With The Devil…The Art Of Starting Over. On it, she collaborates with big names like Ariana Grande, Saweetie and Noah Cyrus. This new effort is all about her road to recovery from drug and alochol addictions, as well as exploring her sexual preferences and new beginnings.

Pro-Social Content

“Anyone” is Demi’s first song on the album. It sets the stage for the story she tells: In the past, she says she often turned to relationships and alcohol to find hope, but she’s always felt that neither have worked. She says she tried prayer, too, but has felt unheard by God. There’s a sadness to this song, but it’s a vulnerable work that lets listeners know there’s more hopeful content to come …

In “Intro,” she says that this album “is one that sheds the skin of my past and embodies the person I am today.” And in “Good Place,” Demi says that with “a whole lot of work, whole lot of hurt, whole lot of grace/I’m in a good place.”

She’s open and honest about her past struggles on the title tracks “The Art Of Starting Over” and “Dancing With The Devil,” where she “prays for better days to come” and asks the Lord, “Could you please forgive me?” This same theme is continually heard in other songs. 

In “Carefully,” she’s willing to be vulnerable in relationships, and she finds strength in taking that risk.

“Melon Cake” finds Demi declaring that she will no longer starve herself to fit a standard. Instead, she will live life fully, regardless of people’s unrealistic expectations.

Demi apologizes to her little sister for the bad example she’s set at times, but she also vows to do better. Demi says that she has forgiven her father and is learning to heal from scars in her past in “Butterfly.”

Objectionable Content

As this is an album that talks in detail about Demi’s road to recovery, drug and alcohol abuse are discussed, not glorified. Yet Demi also describes herself as being “California Sober,” a phrase that typically refers to someone who casually drinks and smokes marijuana.

In “Met Him Last Night” and “The Art of Starting Over,” Demi confesses how she’s often run to men and alcohol for comfort. And in “The Way You Don’t Look At Me,” she talks about a former, dysfunctional relationship where she struggled with an eating disorder and insecurities, specifically in sexual relationships where she’s scared “if I undress that you won’t love me after.”

In “My Girlfriends Are My Boyfriends” and “The Kind Of Lover I Am” Demi openly discusses her sexual preferences: “Doesn’t matter if you’re a woman or a man/… I might not believe in monogamy.” She also crudely references the male and female anatomy.

This album is labeled explicit, primarily for the f-word which is heard in four songs.

Summary Advisory

In 2018, Demi Lovato overdosed and nearly died. Since then, she’s been very vocal about her experiences. And this album is a continuation in her transparency and vulnerability.

The core messages we hear repeated include calls to self-love, forgiveness, grace and healing. Lovato also rejects Hollywood’s standard of beauty as well as the cultural norm of turning to relationships and substances to fill the void inside.

These are all positive messages. Unfortunately, they’re mixed with some really problematic ones as well. Demi is open about her former drug and alcohol abuse and admits to occasionally indulging and smoking marijuana. She also gets into detail about past physical relationships that were toxic, uses some harsh language and is open about her progressive ideas about love and gender fluidity.

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Kristin Smith

Kristin Smith joined the Plugged In team in 2017. Formerly a Spanish and English teacher, Kristin loves reading literature and eating authentic Mexican tacos. She and her husband, Eddy, love raising their children Judah and Selah. Kristin also has a deep affection for coffee, music, her dog (Cali) and cat (Aslan).

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