As mentioned several times over the last couple of weeks, I have Demi Lovato’s new album, Tell Me You Love Me, on constant repeat. Sasha and I couldn’t not talk about it a couple of weeks ago on the Sasha Answers podcast. Ruin The Friendship? Can’t get enough of it. Seems like many of you are just as obsessed. But have you watched the documentary yet?
Demi Lovato: Simply Complicated, I started it too late last night and had to turn it off halfway through but holy sh-t, there is so much to unpack here. Within the first minute she’s naming all the drugs she used to do and she’s in your face, in her own face, putting her addiction and mental health challenges on the table – not just naming her poisons but calling out the behaviours that resulted from those poisons. At one point she talks about how manipulative she became, how she tricked Kevin Jonas Sr (the brothers’ father) into telling her who it was who narced on her after she got busted by her team for using. She told him that she was sorry and that she knew that everybody was only acting out of concern for her, and she just wanted to thank the person who was looking out for her. He gave her the information. And she thanked the person by punching them in the face.
This is recognisable to anyone who has struggled with addiction and also those who have loved someone who is struggling with addiction. It’s the lying. It’s the highway of broken promises. It’s not being able to recognise the person you’ve known for years because even though she looks the same, everything she says is full of sh-t. So much bullsh-t because she can’t stop doing what she can’t help doing. Demi is showing us all of that in Simply Complicated. Like, I was in pain and I treated myself terribly. But I also inflicted a lot of pain and I treated people terribly. Addiction is not self-contained. Addiction victimises the user but it also drags down everyone they love.
Sobriety is precious and fragile and Demi’s is no different. This is why she’s been so unflinchingly honest about hers. Because maintaining it is work. She is showing her work. In more ways than one. Simply Complicated is also about Demi Lovato at work on her career – in the studio, with her collaborators, studying every word of every lyric, picking apart every note. If you get off on work porn, this is what Demi is giving us in her documentary. There’s a part where she asks her producer whether or not her “vibrato” is consistent. And then the camera cuts to his soundmixing screen where her “vibrato” waves are illustrated, capturing just how f-cking consistent they are. It’s an awesome visual – and super braggy, no doubt. But WHY NOT BRAG when your “vibrato” waves are that uniform and it wasn’t an accident? Too often, singing and acting is sold to us as an out-of-body experience, an unconscious act of talent that cannot be controlled. And we, the audience, have also romanticised those skills because, allegedly, it’s sexier to believe that art is spontaneous, that talent’s manifestation is an unpredictable thing. The truth, though, in many cases, is that talent is a superpower that can be harnessed. Demi Lovato’s “vibrato” doesn’t appear on its own schedule, at random. It’s not like sometimes she opens her mouth and it’s there and sometimes it’s sleeping. Her vibrato is released when she decides to release it, when she determines that it’s time to go for it on a certain note, when she decides to extend it for another second. And if it’s consistent, it’s because she was actively making it consistent when she was singing that note. She’s thinking while she’s singing. That is sexier, to me, than spontaneity.
If you haven’t already, watch Simply Complicated this weekend. Let me know what you think.
Have a great weekend!
Yours in gossip,