It’s been almost a year since I argued that Demi Lovato should be huge pop star, and since then, we’ve gotten a little bit closer to the goal. It never quite hit the top ten, for instance, but “Give Your Heart a Break” was still a successful single. That was a good step forward in Lovato’s emergence as a Super Diva.
But now it’s time for more. My girl is a superb singer, y’all, and just as importantly, she uses her voice to sing excellent pop music. Just listen to her new single “Heart Attack,” which dropped on iTunes late last night:
Co-written by Lovato and a few other people, “Heart Attack” is in the I Hate Love But I Love You school of pop. Like Kelly Clarkson’s “Miss Independent,” Jane Child’s “I Don’t Wanna Fall In Love,” and countless others, it’s about that one person who gets under your skin… who ruins your coolness and your hard-hearted persona. It’s about the sweet terror of loving someone so much that it makes you nervous. Because how the hell are you supposed to behave around this person if they make you feel something real? If they make you feel vulnerable? If they make you feel like you’re not in control? “I’m putting my defenses up, ’cause I don’t wanna fall in love,” Lovato sings. “If I did that, I think I’d have a heart attack.” But it’s obviously too late. She’s barely out of the first chorus when she says, “It feels so good, but you know it hurts.”
Lovato makes a familiar subject interesting with her belt-y, slightly-scratchy vocals, and her production team wraps them with a bombastic power-pop melody and massive drumbeats. The thundering sounds let you know exactly when to pound the air with your fist.
And I’m not saying that “Heart Attack” or any other Lovato single has broken the mold of pop music. This isn’t like when “Someone Like You” pushed us back toward ballads or when “Bad Romance” added a strain of cabaret flair to the hooks and the hollering. “Heart Attack” could just as easily be a Kelly Clarkson single, but you know what? That’s fine. Demi Lovato may not be blazing trails, but she is incredibly good at doing what’s popular right now. Compare her music to Christina Aguilera’s recent experiments, for instance. The Xtina songs might be more adventurous, but Lovato’s are more successful. And when you listen to this Austin Mahone song, you remember what it’s like when someone tries to follow trends and fails.
So I hope pop music fans really notice this song and make it a huge hit. I don’t care about Demi Lovato’s personal demons, her Disney Channel past, or whatever she said on X Factor. I just care about hot hits, and right now, hers are some of the hottest.
Mark Blankenship lives in New York, but he has a condo in Funkytown. He tweets as @IAmBlankenship.