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18 July 2013 @ 03:39 pm
On the subject of sadness... (and Demi Lovato)  

I became a fan of Demi Lovato in 2009, when Here We Go Again came out. I loved the rock/pop style and her strong but sensitive and expressive voice. In 2010, she checked into rehab for bulimia, bipolar disorder, and self-injury. I only knew about this when a TV special aired in 2012 when she came out of rehab and she revealed all her struggles before and during her work at Disney Channel. At this time she also released a new album called Unbroken, which directly references her mental and psychological problems from which she is still recovering.

I was quite shocked when I knew about what she had gone through all those years as a Disney star because she played all the strong, funny, confident characters. Even her music promoted herself as someone who did her own thing and didn't care what people thought. And hearing her story and how hard it had been for her before rehab, I was very glad that she was recovering and proceeded to support her new album. I remember I listened to the music and while her vocals were as good as always... I just didn't really like it. With the exception of "Skyscraper", most of the songs were pretty bland. Her style had become more R&B and while she had stated in interviews that she was expanding her music, it simply sounded uninteresting.

As I usually do with musicians I like, I started youtubing her performances. She sounded great in her performances promoting Unbroken. But then, as I started clicking around the related videos, I noticed something. The way she sang her old songs, especially from the Here We Go Again album, sounded off. She sang them well, to be sure. But it was missing something. I wonder if you might think the same way?

Performance from 2009 - song starts at 2:06

Performance from late 2011 - "Don't Forget" starts at 1:47

Obviously, she sounds much stronger in the more recent performance. Her voice is more mature and she is more relaxed and lightheartedd. But, the fragile nature of her 2009 performance (her voice no doubt weakened by bulimia) really added a lot to this song's meaning. While I love that she's risen up from her problems, I think a part of me felt that I liked her performances better when she was less refined and stable. Here's another example:

2008 - Isn't she so cute here???

2012 - So different right?

(Btw I have a pastime of watching US National Anthem performances lol...)

I'm not necessarily saying she's not as good as she was before treatment; her voice now is objectively better controlled and has better and more varied tone. I just hope that Demi (and her fans) don't look back at the performances she did when she was sick and think less of them. Even then, you can tell she was suffering and as sad and heartbreaking as it was, I can't help but find it beautiful.