Sorry: Demi Lovato's Not Sorry The pop singer's new R&B-influenced album, Tell Me You Love Me, reflects her struggles with mental illness and addiction and her newfound empowerment.

Sorry: Demi Lovato's Not Sorry

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Singer Demi Lovato has been in the spotlight since she was really young.


DEMI LOVATO: (As Angela, singing) Oh, when I walk across the street, oh, when I walk across the street...

CHANG: She got her start on the kids show "Barney & Friends" and spent her teenage years playing the girl next door on the Disney Channel, like in the Disney TV movie "Camp Rock."


LOVATO: (Singing) This is real. This is me. I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be now, going to let light shine on me.

CHANG: But the spotlight wasn't always kind to her. She was bullied about her weight at a young age and struggled with eating disorders. She also struggled with drug addiction. And when she was 18 years old, she went to rehab.

LOVATO: Rock bottom hit me in a moment where I was drinking vodka out of a Sprite bottle at 9 in the morning on my way to the airport. And I actually threw up in the back of the car service. And I had a moment where I thought to myself, wow, this is no longer glamorous. This is no longer a young person having fun with drinking and alcohol and experimentation.

CHANG: She's been sober now for five and a half years, and she says she has to work at it every day. Those experiences come through in her new album, "Tell Me You Love Me." When I spoke to her earlier, I started by asking her about the song "You Don't Do It For Me Anymore."


LOVATO: (Singing) I see the future without you. The hell was I doing in the past?

CHANG: That verse, I see the future without you, the hell was I doing in the past, now that I've learned all about you, a love just like ours wouldn't last - who is it that you're letting go of?

LOVATO: I actually was singing this song about my alcohol and drug addiction. When you first hear it you think, wow, that's pretty harsh. You know, it's for an ex-boyfriend. But for me it was about my old self. And...

CHANG: You were breaking up with your old self?

LOVATO: Yeah, I was breaking up with my old self. Definitely.


LOVATO: (Singing) No, you don't do it for me anymore.

CHANG: When you were in rehab, you were diagnosed with bipolar disorder. And you talk very candidly about your mental illness. You also advocate for others to be open about their mental illnesses. Why is it important to you to talk about mental health in such a public way?

LOVATO: There are many, many mental illnesses that people struggle with on a day-to-day basis that nobody feels comfortable enough to talk about it and to get the help that they need. We could prevent so many things and so many lives that could be destroyed by a mental illness if we just talk about it and we take the stigma away from it.

CHANG: You know, this commitment you have to being really open and honest about yourself, it's a commitment that is definitely all over this other song on your new album. It's called "Sorry Not Sorry." Let's listen to it.


LOVATO: (Singing) Now I'm out here looking like revenge, feeling like a 10, the best I've ever been. And, yeah, I know how bad it must hurt to see me like this, but it gets worse. Now you're out here...

CHANG: It sounds like you're totally done with apologizing. What does that - what does that feel like?

LOVATO: I - it feels liberating. And the song actually was written - for me, it wasn't written for an ex-boyfriend or anything like that. I was thinking about the bullies that bullied me in school and how well I'm doing in my life today and how I don't give a flying S about it.


LOVATO: (Singing) But now...

I've spent so many years apologizing for my behavior and for the person that I used to be. So now I no longer am apologizing for who I was but apologizing that I'm not apologizing.

CHANG: Can you tell me how you got there? I know that's a huge question, but I'm looking at you. You are 25. I know you have gone through so much in life. I'm 41 and I wish I could say, yeah, I'm done apologizing for myself. I'm done explaining myself and looking for justification. How did you get there at 25?

LOVATO: I think I've lived a lot of life. What people typically go through at an older age I've just - I accelerated my life at a younger age with the struggles that I've had. And, you know, I have people around me that hold me accountable for it. So it's easy and sometimes difficult. But for the most part, I've just lived a lot of life.


LOVATO: (Singing) Baby, I'm sorry I'm not sorry. Baby, I'm sorry I'm not sorry. Feeling inspired 'cause the tables have turned. Yeah, I'm on fire and I know that it burns.

CHANG: This is also a really, really fun album. It's playful. It's sexy. You talk about...

LOVATO: Thank you.

CHANG: (Laughter) You talk about being single and dating. And there's one song I want to listen to. It's called "Sexy Dirty Love."


LOVATO: (Singing) Hitting me up late, always be blowing up my phone. I'm lying awake wondering why I'm still alone. Lord knows I am sinning, please forgive me for my lust. Sending pictures back and forth, babe, I'm craving your touch. You're my...

CHANG: So what is this song about? Who are you writing this song for?

LOVATO: I was writing this song for somebody that I was really interested in and somebody that I had a crush on. And this was where I was at. I was feeling confident, feeling sexy and wanted to write a song about it.

CHANG: What did you mean by the dirty part?


CHANG: We are on NPR, though, so keep it clean.

LOVATO: Yeah, I'm on NPR. I think I'll keep it clean.

CHANG: (Laughter).


LOVATO: (Singing) Sexy dirty love. Sexy dirty love. Sexy dirty love.

CHANG: Demi, thank you so much. Thank you and good luck.

LOVATO: Thank you; you, too.


LOVATO: (Singing) And I can't help but do the same...

CHANG: The documentary about Lovato called "Simply Complicated" comes out next month. Her new album is called "Tell Me You Love Me."


LOVATO: (Singing) My sanity. Hang up, come on over, let's play out this fantasy. You're my new obsession.

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