HOLY FVCK by Demi Lovato
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On Demi Lovato’s eighth studio album, catharsis comes from recovery, from exorcising demons and excising trauma—and there’s no better avenue for that then a sick guitar lick. HOLY FVCK is stacked with ascendent pop-punk (“SUBSTANCE”), grunge-y anthemic rock (“SKIN OF MY TEETH”), biblical references (“HEAVEN”), and diaristic revelations about inappropriate sexual relationships (“29”). “My biggest hope for [the] song [‘29’] is that others going through a similar experience know they aren’t alone,” they tell Apple Music. “And that it’s time to take our power back.” The sentiment doubles as a mission statement: This is the sound of a young artist claiming autonomy. At the beginning of their career, Lovato made playful pop-punk under Disney’s Hollywood Records label, starting with 2008’s debut, Don’t Forget. Echoes of that can be found on this release, but comparatively, it’s child’s play: Lovato has never sounded harder, or wiser, than they do on HOLY FVCK, so turn it up loud. Below, read a track-by-track guide to the album Lovato wrote exclusively for Apple Music. “FREAK” “This song is about feeling like you don’t belong but owning it anyway, because it doesn’t matter what others think about you. By acknowledging that you are a freak or outcast, you are basically saying that there is nothing anyone can say that will hurt your feelings. I wrote this song with YUNGBLUD while I was in an angry phase, but it turns out that I am proud of it. I am giving myself the power back.” “SKIN OF MY TEETH” “I wanted to make an anthem for people in recovery from addiction. I wanted to humanize the disease for people who’ve never experienced it and don’t understand it. That’s partly why I get so detailed about it in the bridge, which is my favorite part of the song: [I sing] ‘I am just trying to keep my head above water/I am your son, and I am your daughter/I’m your mother, I’m your father.’ It is making a statement about how I am just like everyone who suffers from addiction. We’re all the same. It was so cathartic for me because I had just come out of treatment again. I wanted to make a statement of saying, ‘I see what you’re saying, this is what I’m going through, and you’re not going to make me feel bad about it.’” “SUBSTANCE” “I wanted to make a point about how we live in a world where nothing feels real anymore. The content we intake, the things we do in our day-to-day lives, so much of it lacks substance. We’re always on our phones and the internet, so I wanted to write a song about how I miss the substance that used to be the world we live in. Some of the lyrics that resonate with me would be in the pre-chorus: ‘Whoa, I know we’re all fucking exhausted.’ We’re all still coming out of COVID, which is a time where we all live off of TV, social media, whatever could distract us on our phones. I know we’re all exhausted with it. And ‘Am I in my head or have we all lost it?’ is asking if we have lost the substance in human-to-human connection and the ability to be fully present in the moment. The writing process for this was so effortless, and my co-writers were so amazing.” “EAT ME” “Being able to collaborate with Royal & the Serpent on this song was so amazing and exciting. I am sick of people thinking or talking about me in a certain way that isn’t truthful, and I am done letting it affect me and my life. Coming out as non-binary was a way for me to let people know that I am not the person that everyone wants me to be, but rather, the person I am. My hope is that this song will help others feel more comfortable with their identity, and to not feel ashamed of how others may perceive them.” “HOLY FVCK” “This is the title track of the album, and the whole album has this feel of good versus evil, with some religious undertones. Even the title fits that theme, with holy being good and fuck being bad. It’s a very sexually charged song, and I wanted to flip the phrase on its head to ‘I’m a holy fuck.’ In the studio, I was very much like, ‘Oh my god, I can’t believe I’m singing this!’” “29” “Now that I am older, I have had a lot of time to reflect and think about past experiences I have had in my life, whether that be romantically or not. Writing this song allowed me to express my thoughts in a way that I hadn’t before, and turn it into something special. Everyone that wrote this song with me knew that the goal was to help others, and I think we did an excellent job of that.” “HAPPY ENDING” “I fell into a hopeless depression that had me asking myself if I will ever find a happy ending before I die. The most honest lyric I’ve ever written is actually in this song: ‘I got high/You name it, have tried it/Sure, I’m sober now and everybody’s proud, but I miss my vices.’ My hope for this song is that people will listen to it and realize that they are not alone. Writing this song was obviously very emotional, but it was very freeing because I was able to express these dark times and concerns I’ve had—and coming out of it in the end in a new light.” “HEAVEN” “There’s actually a Bible verse, Matthew 5:30, that says, ‘If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off, because it’s better to lose one part of your body than your entire body to hell.’ It’s actually about masturbation, and people may not know that I have my own sex toy. I’m very open about my sexuality, and growing up I was shamed by my church in Texas for exploring that. I was in a place where I was angry, and I had just learned a lot about myself. I learned about what caused that anger and I learned to honor my anger in treatment. I wanted to write a song that takes back my power and my sexuality from the way religion was used against me. I love the pre-chorus where it repeats, ‘Cut it off!’ because unless you know the Bible verse behind the song, you’re like, ‘What?’ And then, of course, the chorus—‘Going to hell because it feels like heaven.’ An Easter egg you can look out for on the vinyl packaging is I have ‘Matthew 5:30’ printed on the side, which is a nod to this song.” “CITY OF ANGELS” “The first line of this song says it all. I’ve lived in [Los Angeles] for 15 years and it seems as though everything is old and boring. I wrote this song about wanting to experience new things in the city of LA, as if it was brand new. This is definitely a sexual song, but it’s written through using a ton of puns. A great example of this is ‘Splash Mountain from your hands at Disneyland.’ I’d love to christen this city as if it was brand new.” “BONES” “I had such a good time writing this song because I was at my house, with my friends, just having a good time. This song is about being so attracted to someone the first time you see them that you physically want to jump on them. My favorite line from this song is ‘Blood racing, heart pounding, like there’s a fucking earthquake’ because it really depicts the feeling of craving someone so badly, but you have to resist.” “WASTED” “It’s not a secret that I’ve struggled with addiction and drugs, so I wanted to write a song that’s about how there’s no high greater than the high of falling in love. The best high of your life is the high you get from someone else. Specific lyrics that are so real to me are ‘Will my heart stop, will I withdraw?/Can I detox if the shoe drops?/I’m wiser, I’m older, I’m clean and I’m sober, so I can’t figure out how I’m wasted.’ I remember the first time I tried certain drugs, and I was like, ‘Whoa, what is this going to be like?’ That’s kind of like falling in love with someone you know will change your life. You’re totally wasted on love—you feel totally euphoric and so happy.” “COME TOGETHER” “If you listen closely to the lyrics of this song, you will realize this is actually not a song just about unifying and joining together as one. Much like many other songs on this album, this is a very sexually focused track. My favorite line has to be ‘Got me closer to the edge than ever/We both want it, but we don’t surrender/And we can make this last forever/But paradise is even better when we come…together.’ The hook of this song flows very well together, and I think it is open-ended in the way that you can perceive it however you want to.” “DEAD FRIENDS” “This song is a way for me to reminisce on the hard times that I’ve been through in my life and how I’ve lost friends along the way. The beginning of the song is very calm and slow, but as the song progresses you will notice that it picks up the tempo and the mood. I think this is a way to represent how although it’s a sad message, I am actually honoring my friends and the times we had together. I lost a friend that went through similar struggles that I’ve had on the same day that I wrote this song, which gives it even more of a special meaning to me.” “HELP ME” “This was a song I wrote with Dead Sara on the very first day we worked together. I wanted to write a song that was a clapback to people on the internet who think they know what’s best for me, and make an empowering anthem out of that. I think my favorite lines are ‘Hey, thank you for your useless information/Hey, never satisfied with my explanation/Hey, what’s with your desperate fascination?/Hey, thank you for your useless information.’ I was so excited to write this with Dead Sara because they were such a huge influence for the sound of this album. I fell in love with the album they released last year, and I saw them live. They’ve become great friends of mine, especially Emily [Armstrong], the lead singer. Getting to see them work their magic at the show was the catalyst for me getting back to my rock roots.” “FEED” “The message of this song is that there are two sides inside of you, which represent the good and the bad, the positive and the negative. This song is a reminder that you are in control of your life and each side will make you feel a different way, so it’s up to you to choose which direction you want to go.” “4 EVER 4 ME” “The songs at the beginning of the album show how angry and sad I once was, but as you get towards the end, you realize that I’ve been through a rollercoaster of a life and there is joy at the end. I got to write this song with one of my best friends, which makes it even more special. One of my favorite lines of this song is ‘I can’t wait to hug and thank your mother,’ because I think it’s important to acknowledge those who raised and taught the person you love how to be an amazing person. I don’t write a ton of love songs, but I think that this song really encompasses the hopefulness of love and how sappy I can actually be.”
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