Demi Lovato on taking the power back through a heavy new album, 'HOLY F***' "We'll just bleep this interview to death," says Morning Edition host Leila Fadel ahead of her conversation with Demi Lovato about a harder-edged new album, HOLY F***.

Demi Lovato on taking the power back through a heavy new album, 'HOLY F***'

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LEILA FADEL, HOST:

Pop star Demi Lovato has grown up before our eyes.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SORRY NOT SORRY")

DEMI LOVATO: (Singing) Baby, I'm sorry. I'm not sorry.

FADEL: Since her days on "Barney & Friends," the Disney Channel and "Glee," she's lived her life and made her mistakes publicly, and the tabloid press was dogging her practically every step of the way - through alcohol and drug addiction, rehab, recovery. She's written about some of those struggles on her new album.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DEAD FRIENDS")

LOVATO: (Singing) I danced with the devil. I made it through hell, and I don't know why. How am I different? I did, and they didn't, and it doesn't feel right. I miss the hell we can't raise.

FADEL: The album obviously rocks a little harder than her Disney Channel days. It's emotional. It's brave. It's raw. It's so raw we can't even say the name of the album.

So what are we going to do on NPR, though? Just say, holy [expletive] a bunch of times?

LOVATO: Yeah. I mean, I'm down. We'll just bleep this interview to death.

FADEL: Yes. Maybe we'll say holy F.

LOVATO: I came out of treatment and began working on this album shortly after. And I was very angry. I had some healing to do, but I got out a lot of that anger in my music, and then there's, like, an evolution on the project where you see me going from angry to then, like, owning my power and my sexuality...

FADEL: Yeah.

LOVATO: ...And then to, like, happier love songs.

FADEL: Right.

LOVATO: And so there's this arc over the album where it's angry to happy. And I just love that.

FADEL: "Skin Of My Teeth" - was that one of the songs where you were still angry?

LOVATO: Yes.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SKIN OF MY TEETH")

LOVATO: (Singing) Demi leaves rehab again. When is the (inaudible) going to end? Sounds like a voice in my head. I can't believe I'm not dead.

I saw the headlines of me coming out of treatment, and, you know, one popped up that was like, Demi leaves rehab again. And I was just like, really? Like, you don't know me. You don't know - I'm just human, and...

FADEL: Yeah.

LOVATO: ...I'm trying to figure this out just like you are. So for people to have their opinions on that was, like, really frustrating.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SKIN OF MY TEETH")

LOVATO: (Singing) I'm alive by the skin of my...

And I'm going to show you that I see what you're saying, and I am owning it. And this is about a more serious issue. This isn't about me coming out of treatment. This is about, you know, awareness on a serious problem that's affecting so many lives.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SKIN OF MY TEETH")

LOVATO: I'm just trying to keep my head above water. I'm your son, and I'm your daughter.

FADEL: Demi Lovato writes about several dark moments on this new album. The latest single is called "29." She tells the story of a 17-year-old girl being courted, perhaps groomed, by a 29-year-old man. It's a song about consent.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "29")

LOVATO: (Singing) Far from innocent, what the what consent? Numbers told you not to, but that didn't stop you.

Everything that I write about is based off of a personal experience, and so this song is very emotionally heavy for me.

FADEL: Lovato chose not to go into further detail about her real-life story behind the song. The lyrics alone are revealing enough - had me in your grip, went beautifully with all my daddy issues.

LOVATO: The reason why I share my music is because I know that somebody out there is going to be able to relate. So I never hold anything back.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "29")

LOVATO: (Singing) 'Cause I'm finally 29 - funny, just like you were at the time. Thought it was a teenage dream, just a fantasy, but was it yours, or was it mine? Seventeen, 29.

FADEL: You announced a while back that you felt more comfortable using they/them pronouns, and then there was that predictable overreaction on Twitter. More recently, you mentioned that you're feeling more feminine these days and are now adding she/her again. What do you make of that reaction?

LOVATO: I don't care. I didn't even think that it was going to be a headline.

FADEL: Yeah. Does it surprise you that people even think about this stuff?

LOVATO: No, it doesn't surprise me 'cause there's a lot of people out there that have to - an opinion on everything I say and do.

FADEL: Yeah.

LOVATO: But I just don't read it. Like, it's not important to me. And there's so many ignorant people on the internet, and you just can't pay attention to them all.

FADEL: Truer words have never been said.

LOVATO: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FREAK")

LOVATO: (Singing) Pinch me. Singe me.

FADEL: The song "Freak" - I mean, speaking of that, I want to know about that song and when you were writing it what you were thinking.

LOVATO: A lot of it was based off of that reaction that I had gotten the year before with coming out as nonbinary and using they/them pronouns. That was one that I couldn't really escape from.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FREAK")

LOVATO: (Singing) Get your tickets to the freak show, baby. Step right up to watch the freak go crazy. Am what I am, and what I am is a piece of meat. Take a bite just to watch me bleed.

I started seeing in my Instagram comments people just being really hateful and things like that, and, like, so I just, like - I stopped paying attention to it, but it did affect me. And I wrote this song, "Freak," about it because I was like, you already have this conception of me that I'm different and that I'm weird and - because I'm coming out as nonbinary, because I am speaking my truth. And you know what? This is who I am, and I'm not afraid - I'm going to own this, and I'm taking the power back from what you have to say about this.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FREAK")

LOVATO: (Singing) Freak.

FADEL: So your album comes out, and the next day you turn 30, right?

LOVATO: Yes.

FADEL: So is this, in some ways, your album of, like, entering a new part of your life, a new chapter in your life - your 30s, ending your 20s?

LOVATO: Yeah, of course. I mean, anybody that turns 30 has lived life experiences that have transformed them into who they are today. And I think my 20s was for figuring out who I am. And also, that's just an ever-evolving process. And my 30s - it's nice to, like, enter this new chapter where I'm figuring out what makes me happy and not living my life for other people.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "4 EVER 4 ME")

LOVATO: (Singing) I can't hold back. I'm falling in love.

FADEL: Happy birthday. Congratulations.

LOVATO: Thank you so much.

FADEL: That's Demi Lovato. Her new album is called "Holy [expletive]."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "4 EVER 4 ME")

LOVATO: (Singing) Honestly I think this is forever for me.

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