Review: Demi Lovato explores tragedy and resilience in new documentary and album

by Aaliyah Alexander, Staff Writer

“Dancing With the Devil… The Art of Starting Over” felt as if artist Demi Lovato was closing a difficult chapter of her life’s story she doesn’t plan on reliving. 

Immediately following part three of her four-part documentary detailing her journey with substance abuse, eating disorders and encounters with sexual assault, Lovato released her seventh studio album on April 2. 

Fans are no stranger to Lovato’s story seeing that the 28-year-old singer and songwriter is known to openly share her struggles through her music, social media and documentaries such as “Simply Complicated” released in 2017. 

The theme song to her series “Dancing with the Devil” encapsulates the chilling experience of Lovato’s near-death experience, giving fans a glimpse to what it’s like to slowly lose yourself to addiction. 

“I was dancing with the devil, out of control/ Almost made it to heaven/ It was closer than you know/ Playing with the enemy, gambling with my soul/ It’s so hard to say no/ When you’re dancing with the devil.” 

Throughout the album Lovato paints a picture of her darkest moments with tracks such as “Anyone,” “Easy,” “ICU (Madison’s Lullabye)” and “What Other People Say”. 

In episode one of her documentary “Losing Control,” Lovato pinpoints the overall problem responsible for her downward spiral. 

“Anytime you suppress a part of yourself, it’s gonna overflow at some point… and that’s ultimately what happened to me in a lot of areas of my life, and it was what led to my overdose for sure,” Lovato said. 

After her traumatic experience with her heroin overdose on July 23, 2018, Lovato removed herself from the public eye to heal and rediscover herself.

“I know that what I had been looking for I hadn’t found yet… but what I had been looking for was not in the form of a drug, it was the spiritual growth that I’ve had over the past seven months,” Lovato said in her documentary

Lovato highlights this newly found relationship with spirituality in her album cover, song title, documentary and new neck tattoo by incorporating butterflies, which are known to have spiritual significance in many religions. 

The butterfly symbolizes change, endless potential, transformation and rebirth. It is said that when we undergo a spiritual transformation, we must “retreat from the outer world and into our inner being” and re-emerge after our metamorphoses, which is an experience Lovato expresses in her songs “The Art of Starting Over,” “Butterfly,” “Good Place,” “California Sober,” and “Melon Cake”. 

As someone who’s admired Demi Lovato since her “Camp Rock” days, it was an eye-opening experience to hear about the life she’s endured behind the scenes. 

Listening to the album alongside viewing the documentary was like reading the last few pages of a book where the main character overcomes an obstacle the audience was rooting them through and becomes a new person. 

“Dancing With the Devil… The Art of Starting Over” has the power to touch and inspire anyone that listens.