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Album Review

R&B comes in many varieties. And recently, Demi Lovato has stepped more fully into that genre, offering some new musical flavors to her many fans. Tell Me You Love Me, her sixth studio album, blends Lovato's pop sensibilities with a bigger dose of R&B and soul this time around.

Lyrically, Demi sings honestly, openly and sometimes flirtatiously about the ups and downs of relationships. She sings about holding on to unhealthy habits, and learning about when it's time to let go.

Lovato said in an interview with iHeart Radio that Christina Aguilera's album Stripped inspired this one. She commented that it portrayed Christina as "sexier. More mature. More grown up." She feels that this album does the same for her.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

"Tell Me You Love Me" deals with our need to know that someone significant in our lives loves us. It also stresses the importance of fighting for something and not giving up: "Everything I need/Is standing in front of me/ … Baby, Ima stick around/Promise we'll be alright."

Lovato also has some moments of honest, emotionally healthy self-realization. On "Cry Baby," she admits that physical beauty can still cloak inner ugliness. She also confesses she's learned such lessons slowly at times: "I guess I'm naive." And in "You Don't Do It For Me Anymore," Lovato sings about how she knows she has to be honest with herself and with her current partner about his glaring issues. Specifically, she knows deep down that she can no longer be physically intimate with him (which obviously isn't a good thing outside of marriage) when she knows she's not telling him the truth about some significant things: "I could not bear to lie to you, lie with you/ … I'm well aware I lie to you when I lie with you."

Lovato also sets some healthy boundaries in "Games": "I date men, but you're acting like a little boy/And no, I ain't your little toy." She also challenges a wishy-washy guy, "Figure out what you want/ … Before you hit my phone again." Essentially, the song finds her telling a guy (though at times profanely) that she's not going to fall for his efforts to emotionally manipulate her.

Objectionable Content

"Sorry Not Sorry" aims at Lovato's critics, or "haters" as she's called them in interviews. She relishes proving them wrong, which isn't necessarily an objectionable thing. But the way she goes about it certainly is: flinging harsh profanities. She gloats, "Now I'm out here looking like revenge/ … Now payback is a bad b--ch/And baby, I'm the baddest/You're f---in' with a savage." As for responding to criticism with grace, well, Lovato's not really interested in taking that higher road: "And it'd be nice of me to take it easy on ya, but nah."

Unhealthy dependence on men is a frequent theme, too. On "Tell Me You Love Me," Lovato talks about losing herself in a guy as she sings, "I don't know who I am without you." And despite some healthy insights in "Cry Baby," that song also finds her staying put in a relationship that seems emotionally abusive: "[You] make me feel everything, even when it's pain/… Make me feel like I'm f---ing going so insane." We get similarly mixed messages on songs such as "Lonely" and "Only Forever," with Lovato vacillating between some healthy perspectives and some that are anything but. Raw emotions fill the former, with Lovato singing, "You know that I always need saving/Now I'm f------ lonely, and you didn't want me."

Meanwhile, "Hitchhiker" recklessly shrugs off the possibility of emotional risk: "I don't really need to know, if my heart is in danger/'Cause as long as you're the driver/I'm your hitchhiker."

But it's not just emotional boundaries that are problematic here. Lovato crosses plenty of physical ones, too. In "Concentrate," Lovato describes a man's ability to blur her judgement: "Not fallin' cause I want to…/But it's everything you doin' to me/Make music when you're moanin'/From night until morning." She also tells him suggestively, "Baby I'll do/Anything you want/Lock me down like I'm your slave."

In "Ruin the Friendship," she clearly believes a friendship is worth ruining for sex: "Your body's looking good tonight/I'm thinking we should cross the line/Let's ruin the friendship." And "Sexy Dirty Love" is all about a late-night conversation that starts with sexting and likely leads to more: "Lord knows I'm sinning, please forgive me for my lust/Sending pictures back and forth/Baby, I'm craving your touch/ … Hang up, come on over."

Another emotionally fraught track is "Daddy Issues," in which Lovato links her dysfunctional romances in the present with a deeply broken relationship with her father in the past. There may be some important realizations here. But her unvarnished, profanity-laden woundedness is still painful to listen to: "I call you too much/You never pick up/Except when you wanna f---." Later she adds bitterly, "You're the man of my dreams/'Cause you know how to leave/ … Don't know how to commit."

References to alcohol, cigarettes and marijuana turn up in songs such as "Ruin the Friendship," "Concentrate" and "Lonely" (including a reference to pot by guest Lil Wayne on the latter).

Summary Advisory

Demi Lovato has seen many changes in her musical career. She's gone from being an innocent Disney singer, to a pop sensation to embracing a more "mature" approach in her music. Sometimes on this album, that maturity includes gritty honesty and admirable self-realizations.

More often, though, Lovato's "growth" here is more problematic, including sexual references, harsh profanities and the glorification of choices she knows are reckless. The Deluxe version of Tell Me You Love Me finds her posing in a lacy bra.

It's another image that shows how she is unafraid to express who she has become. But it's also a sadly telling image when it comes to understanding what Demi Lovato means when she talks about maturity.

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles



Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range









Debuted at No. 3

Record Label

Island Records




September 29, 2017

On Video

Year Published



Kristin Smith

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