Demi Lovato released their eighth studio album "Holy Fvck" on Friday.
Insider ranked all 16 songs on the tracklist, with "29" taking the top spot.
"Happy Ending" and "Eat Me" rounded out the top three, with the "4ever4me" ranked last.
It's always nice to hear an artist who's gone through a lot of pain sing about finding love, but "4ever4me" is jarringly misplaced at the end of "Holy Fvck" and tonally incompatible with the rest of the album.
Lovato's discography is a living document, a testament to the power of evolution. The progression from their previous release, 2021's "Dancing With the Devil...The Art of Starting Over," makes "Holy Fvck" infinitely more rich and interesting.
It's inspiring how Lovato refuses to bury their real-life mistakes (as documented on songs like "California Sober," a term Lovato has since disavowed). Instead, she lays them bare like bricks and continues to build on top, becoming taller and stronger in the process.
Closing "Holy Fvck" with the lyric, "I think this is forever for me," undermines the poignant themes of fluidity and never-ending self-creation that flow throughout the rest of the tracklist. If Lovato has taught me anything, it's that the concept of "forever" shrinks in the face of meaningful growth.
We all know what it's like to be so infatuated that it feels like intoxication — just ask Beyoncé. But "Wasted" is more played-out than relatable. The lyrics don't bring any new dimensions to a familiar concept and the production is far too straightforward.
14. "Freak" (feat. YUNGBLUD)
Lovato and YUNGBLUD is a pairing that makes sense to me, and their voices definitely sound great tangled together amid this song's gritty guitars and distorted synths.
Unfortunately, opening a pop-punk album with an invitation to "get your tickets to the freak show, baby" is a little gauche and too on-the-nose.
13. "Come Together"
There's nothing wrong with "Come Together," per se, but it does arrive at a point in the album where Lovato's formula starts to feel repetitive. It's a catchy song that ends up getting lost in the tracklist.
Also, you can call me a hater if you want, but I docked points for the lyric, "I knew the minute I met you that I had to have you or I'd die." I just know he's not worth all that.
12. "Holy Fvck"
I had hoped for a little more nuance in the album's titular track, but "Holy Fvck" is still a solid, throaty head-banger.
The biblical imagery throughout the song is a bit heavy-handed, though it does work nicely with the title, which alludes to sex so good that it feels sacred. I'm particularly partial to the opening line: "I'm the serpent in a garden / I am truth and I am darkness."
"Holy Fvck" should've ended with "Feed," the album's penultimate track.
It starts as a piano ballad, cataloging "scars I've caused and scars I've earned," before it bursts into a raw celebration of self-actualization and determination. "I decide which one to feed" becomes a simple yet persuasive mantra in the midst of chaos.
10. "Skin of My Teeth"
"Skin of My Teeth" was a brilliant selection for the album's lead single. Its blunt honesty and subtle pleas for empathy ("Asking why doesn't make it easier / Go easier on me") set the tone for Lovato's new era.
Not to mention, the demonic vocal effect in the bridge is one of the singer's most thrilling artistic choices to date.
9. "Dead Friends"
This one stings. Survivor's guilt is very real and Lovato captures the feeling in excruciating detail: "I'm breathing in and out / They don't, they don't / I watch the sun go down / They won't, they won't / I'm waking up right now / And they never will."
Although Lovato's own near-death experience is very particular, several years of illness and death on an unimaginable scale have given "Dead Friends" a timely, devastating edge. Lovato's willingness to mourn openly is a gift for those of us having a similar experience — an outstretched hand to combat shame and anxiety.
8. "Help Me" (feat. Dead Sara)
Although Lovato's belting is as impressive as ever, the three-piece rock band Dead Sara makes "Help Me" come alive.
Emily Armstrong's sharp, whiny vocals add a fascinating shade of contempt to the chorus as if she and Lovato are rolling their eyes at the audience. In fact, "Help Me" was originally intended as a Dead Sara track before it was reborn as a duet.
"Finishing out the lyrics and the melody flowed so well that it was finally a complete song," Armstrong said.
I really admire the double entendre at play in this song. Lovato is searching for meaning and depth in her life, but the titular question — "Am I the only one looking for substance?" — could also be a callout for kindred spirits as they continue to live with addiction.
Lovato has long expressed discomfort with becoming the "poster child" for sobriety and I'm sure that spotlight feels isolating. Even though it remains somewhat taboo, addiction affects millions of people each year. Many people turn to substances to cope with the world's evils.
"Substance," then, acts as a poignant reminder that pain, illness, and the daily effort to get better are rarely visible to the naked eye.
Basically, "Bones" is sexy and it goes extremely hard. The seductive sigh in the middle of this chorus is one of the album's best moments all on its own.
5. "City of Angels"
"City of Angels" is one of my favorite songs on "Holy Fvck" purely because it sounds like a grown-up "La La Land."
Taking us on a sex tour of Los Angeles is new, of course ("I'm going down on you / At the Viper room / At Saddle Ranch I'll ride"), but Lovato's rebellious spirit has always been there.
"Heaven" may be the most fun and inventive song on the album.
It combines winking references to masturbation ("I found myself with my two little fingers / My right hand got me singing my praises") with an acrobatic vocal performance and a body-friendly drumbeat that almost feels like a football chant.
3. "Eat Me" (feat. Royal & the Serpent)
"Eat Me" is a hair-raising, damning inventory of sexist double standards, particularly for non-male celebrities. We expect them to be predictable, groundbreaking, traditional, original, and, most of all, sexy — all at once.
Lovato's over it. "Would you like me better if I was still her?" she sneers. "Did she make your mouths water?"
The fury that burns through this song is righteous and earned. But most fascinating, perhaps, is that Lovato doesn't let herself off the hook.
"I know the part I've played before / I know the shit that I've ignored," they scream-sing in the chorus. "I know the girl that you adored / She's dead it's time to fucking mourn."
With the genius addition of Royal & the Serpent, "Eat Me" expands beyond Lovato's personal experience into a nuanced exploration of societal pressure and complacency, packaged in a three-minute burst of volcanic energy.
2. "Happy Ending"
"Happy Ending" boasts the most vivid and heart-wrenching set of lyrics in Lovato's entire catalog: "Will I ever know what it's like to be fine without pretending / That my skin isn't crawling? / My demons aren't calling and tearing me to shreds? / Am I gonna die trying to find my happy ending?"
What else is there to say? That chorus speaks for itself.
Thanks to its pointed (and almost certainly autobiographical) lyrics, this is sure to become one of Lovato's most talked-about songs.
But "29" is far from a cheap bid for headlines. It's the album's emotional climax — an earnest and evocative revaluation of a relationship she once thought was a "teenage dream."
Lovato manages to sing from a place of wisdom and maturity without shying away from the details, including frank references to menstruation ("just five years a bleeder") and "daddy issues."
In the final chorus, they drive the point home with a small yet crushing tweak to the lyrics ("Finally 29 / Funny just like you were at the time") that makes it painfully clear why their perspective has evolved: "Finally 29 / 17 would never cross my mind."
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