Dancing With the Devil- Demi Lovato

Krystal Orehek

Many of our first memories of Demi Lovato can be traced back to her lead performance as Mitchie Torres in the iconic early 2000s Disney Channel original, Camp Rock. Since then, Demi as a more mature artist has had many hits including Heart Attack, Sorry Not Sorry, Cool For The Summer, Confident, Give Your Heart A Break, and the list goes on. An outlier in this plethora of poppy hits is Sober, her somber 2018 release about her ongoing struggle with drug and alcohol addiction. Nearly a month after the song’s release, Demi would overdose on heroin.

Demi’s YouTube series promotional image. (YouTube)

In her new YouTube Original series, Demi Lovato: Dancing With The Devil, Demi and those close to her open up about the moments leading to her overdose, her battle through treatment, all the way up to her present-day state in the raw, tell-all docu-series. The series was released as a lead-up to her new album Dancing With The Devil…The Art Of Starting Over, where the songs match up beautifully to the events in each episode.


The opening track: Anyone

Demi performing ‘Anyone’ at the 2020 Grammy Awards. (JOHN SHEARER)

If you watched the 2020 Grammys, you might remember her performance of this powerful ballad where she had to restart from being choked up, but ended gracefully with a standing ovation. This performance was her first step into the spotlight after an 18-month hiatus, but the song itself was written two days before she would be in the hospital fighting for her life. The song’s placement as the first track shows us where the story of her album begins, “When I listened to the lyrics I definitely thought it was foreshadowing my overdose. I recorded it days before and the lyrics were everything I was feeling, you know, in the hospital.” After relapsing multiple times throughout her 2018 Tell Me You Love Me Tour, Demi called her drug dealer over to purchase heroin the night of July 23rd, 2018. She got high and later found the heroin was laced with fentanyl, and that she was raped by her dealer. Her assistant found her the next morning lifeless, and she was transported to the hospital. Demi would go on to have multiple organ failure, pneumonia, a heart attack, and three strokes causing her to have permanent spots in her vision.

The Title Track: Dancing With The Devil

In this song, Demi uses the metaphor of dancing with the devil to talk about her and her addiction. The song essentially showcases her addiction and gives an inside glimpse into her mind and actions leading to her overdose. “It’s just a little red wine, I’ll be fine,” a line that directly refers to the night she broke her sobriety by having a glass of red wine. “It’s just a little white line, I’ll be fine. But soon that little white line is a little glass pipe. Tinfoil remedy almost got the best of me, I keep praying I don’t reach the end of my lifetime.” Another line referring to when she broke her sobriety, as after she had the glass of wine earlier referred to, she ended up at a party where she would do meth, molly, coke, weed, and oxycontin.

It’s a true story: Melon Cake

One of Demi’s watermelon cakes from her birthday. (Demi Lovato)

Another one of Demi’s struggles has been her eating disorder. When she was a teenager she developed bulimia, and since then her diet had been severely micro-managed by her previous team, only furthering her negative relationship with food. So much so that on her birthdays she wouldn’t have a regular cake, but a watermelon cake. Her friends explain how they could never eat freely around Demi, and someone has even been fired for “chocolate in the backseat.” But in this song, she explains how she has taken back control and, finally, “No more melon cakes on birthdays.”

Heartbreak: 15 Minutes

So true, queen! (Genius)

During quarantine, Demi found herself a boyfriend and eventually fiancé, Max Ehrich. Unfortunately, Demi broke off the engagement explaining, “I realized I didn’t actually know the person that I was engaged to. (…) The hardest part of the breakup was mourning the person I thought he was (…) I mean I was just as shocked as the rest of the world at some of the things he had said and done.” Though Demi never goes into detail about the actual song or breakup, when asked for commentary on Apple Music her response was, “Crickets. Is that an answer?” Multiple lyrics point to signs saying Demi was wronged, such as the chorus, “‘Cause you were looking for fifteen minutes, yeah. And now you got fifteen minutes, yeah. Pack your stuff, you can come and get it. Ain’t goodbye but it’s good riddance.” Fans speculate the singer is referencing the popular phrase “15-minutes of fame.”

Finding balance: California Sober

As far as Demi’s current recovery, she describes herself as “California sober”. “I’ve learned that shutting the door on things makes me want to open the door even more. (…) Telling myself that I can never have a drink or smoke marijuana, like, I feel like that’s setting myself up for failure. (…) I’ve been hesitant to share until now that I’ve been smoking weed and drinking in moderation after almost dying from the OD and after being the poster child for sobriety for so many years, I didn’t want people to criticize me for that.” Though not everyone around her, nor in the YouTube comments, agrees with the moderation method, Demi urges people to approach it with compassion and an open heart. “No it ain’t black or white, it’s all the colors,” is a line from the song showing her belief that recovery is not a “one-size-fits-all solution.”

Demi is glowing with her new ‘do! (Amanda Charchian)

Demi closed the album with the songs Butterfly and Good Place. Butterfly being about her finding peace with her late father, and Good Place describing where she feels she is now.

I’m not a Demi Lovato stan, and I honestly clicked on her series because I was bored. But I’m glad I watched and listened because I don’t think an album this moving comes along often. I didn’t go much into the actual sound of the music much, but the songs are amazing. Ranging from ballads to pop, Demi reaches new heights vocally that I was really surprised by. In her YouTube series, there is so much more she has gone through than what I mentioned in the article (believe it or not) and I think if you’re going to listen to the album, taking 80 minutes to watch the short 4-episode series will add so much more depth to your listen. My favorite songs are Dancing With The Devil, Lonely People, Met Him Last Night (ft. Ariana Grande), and Easy (ft. Noah Cyrus).

You can watch the first episode here, and the Dancing With The Devil music video here!