The B-Sides 14: Demi Lovato is my Best Friend
And a playlist featuring Kelly Clarkson, Aly & AJ, and Nick Jonas |View this email in your browser
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a newsletter and playlist on pop music and pop culture
ISSUE 14 | SEPTEMBER 11, 2017
Song of the day: Younger Now by Miley Cyrus
The B-Sides Letter
Here is your link to The B-Sides Playlist #14 on Spotify! Click and enjoy.
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Trigger warning for mental health struggles
In physical therapy the other day, a Bebe Rexha song came on. People around me were trying to guess who the song was by, and they agreed that it was by Demi Lovato. I wasn’t going to butt in, but I could NOT handle this, and explained that this was a Bebe Rexha song. “No,” someone said, “This is Demi Lovato.”
“I’ve seen Demi Lovato five times in concert and know each of her songs by heart. This is Bebe Rexha.”
I was met with some blank stares. I didn’t mean to be SO INTENSE — but like, I know Demi Lovato.
Now’s a great time to jump on the Demi-fan-train, if you haven’t joined us already. Demi’s coming out with a new album at the end of this month, and her two singles so far — Sorry Not Sorry and You Don’t Do it for Me Anymore — have been un. real.
This letter is a more haphazard B-Sides than usual because this week has been ~very hectic~. I just want to share a little bit about why I love Demi Lovato.
- She’s incredibly talented. No need to say more I don’t think.
- She has taught me a lot about healing. Many celebrities have used their platforms to discuss mental health, and many more should. We’ve talked about celebrities and mental health on The B-Sides before, and Demi’s not the first celebrity to be open about her struggles. But she does feel — at least to me — unprecedented in how young she was when she publicly started discussing her health, and how much she has openly shared.
- Demi lives with bipolar depression. In the late 00s, when she was a teenager, Demi was in an extremely depressive state, and was self-harming in lots of ways, including bulemia/anorexia and a serious drug and alcohol addiction. She has come out saying she couldn’t go more than 30 minutes without doing coke. In 2010 — right after I saw her in the Camp Rock 2 tour
- - she went into rehab after punching one of her backup dancers on the tour.
- We know this because she has since become a HUGE advocate for supporting people and our mental health. She speaks out about her self-harming, about mental health, about drugs and alcohol. She also speaks very candidly about the struggles of recovery. This is a short documentary split up into sections about her struggles.
- A sweet and sad story: the song “Skyscraper” was released right when Demi came back into the public eye after rehab and counseling. Apparently, she recorded it when she was really sick, and for those of us who know Demi’s voice well, we can tell that the vocals on this track are really scratchy and not consistent with other songs of hers. But the song is SO full of emotion. When she got back from rehab, they went to re-record the song and get cleaner vocals. Demi recalls, “It just didn’t feel the same, so we kept the original one. For me it was … so symbolic, it being the song I recorded before treatment and yet it was providing a message. It’s so crazy the way things played out, that it ended up being my symbol and it represented what I’m trying to spread the word about: getting help and rising above any issues that [I and] my fans are dealing with.”
- It’s not always easy to be outspoken as a celebrity. And yet, despite backlash and the fear that comes with deep vulnerability and honesty, Demi keeps being open. And she takes explicitly political stances on mental health in this country, saying that “We need better mental health care in America. We need more reform. It’s very important that gets done so our communities and our country can grow and thrive.”
- This outspokenness about our health care system lead her to campaign for Hillary Clinton in the run up to the 2016 elections. She sang and spoke at the DNC and other rallies. No matter how I feel about HRC, I loved seeing Demi take the stage and get a spotlight — to share her story, to share her voice.
- I mentioned earlier that she has taught me a lot about healing. She has also publicly suffered great loss in the last few years: In just a few years she suffered the deaths of her grandfather, her great-grandmother with whom she was super close, her dog by tragic accident, a friend, her (somewhat estranged) father. She continues to speak up when she can about the healing needed to get through intense grief and loss. She has two heartbreaking songs about her father, “Father” and “For the Love of a Daughter.”
And she just keeps going. I have no idea what’s in store for her — frankly, each time she comes out with an album, I’m sure this one will be the one that takes her to megastardom, and it never quite does. But maybe this album will be different, and no one will try to tell me that a Bebe Rexha* song is Demi Lovato.
*PS — No shade to Bebe, I actually love her and think she’s amazing. It’s just the principle, you know?
“Take Me,” Aly & AJ — ALY AND AJ ARE BAAAAAACK!! Remember the iconic “Potential Breakup Song”!? Uch I missed them so much. Their return is fitting for this week, as they are former Disney stars in the “class”before Demi.
“Love So Soft,” Kelly Clarkson — This is one of Kelly’s brand new songs, and Kelly absolutely had to be on this list. Demi was and is one of the biggest Kelly fans of all time. Here’s an AMAZING throwback vid of Demi singing a Kelly song when she was a lil talent show beb!
“Schoolin’ Life,” Beyoncé — Happy (beylated) B-day queen. This is a CLASSIC Bey-Side — underrated but super special, and I’ve heard that it’s one of Beyoncé’s own favorites.
“Chainsaw,” Nick Jonas — Nick and Demi were in the same class of Disney Channel stars, and she dated his brother Joe for a bit after they starred in Camp Rock. Despite ups and downs, Nick and Demi are super close, and went on an EPIC tour last summer that I saw with my sister. ALSO — I listened to an amazing episode of the podcast “And the Writer Is…” with the co-writer of this song, Simon Wilcox, and I highly recommend listening and hearing her story.
“Dragon,” Alyson Stoner — I OBVI have to include Alyson Stoner on this playlist because she is (exclusively) full of B-Sides. Demi’s co-star on Camp Rock, you might also recognize her as the kid from the Missy Elliott videos. The video for this song is fun but also a little cringe-worthy but mostly fun.
“Why Don’t We Fall in Love,” Amerie — Remember “One Thing” by Amerie?? Sometime between then and now she was a backup singer for Demi, which I discovered on one of Demi’s tours when Amerie came out and actually got a solo.
“Don’t Say You Love Me,” Fifth Harmony — I’m digging their brand new album, and this song stuck out to me. What is your favorite so far?
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Hannah Zoe // The B-Sides
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