Emily Listens to… Dancing with the Devil… the Art of Starting Over

Former Disney star Demi Lovato has been off the radar for several years now. Her last album release Tell Me You Love Me in 2017 signaled a four-year break for the singer. After her album in 2017, Lovato opened up about her struggles with mental health and substance abuse, thus causing a break in her music career. Following a heroin overdose in 2018, Lovato admitted that she “essentially had to die to wake up” and began her road towards healing.


Lovato’s most recent album Dancing with the Devil… the Art of Starting Over, released on April 2, 2021, offers a complex view of the singer’s life and her most recent struggles with addiction. A few of the topics she touches on within the album are self-love, mental illness and her sexuality. All of these topics are ones she has mentioned in the past, but this album offers a fresh perspective on her maturity and growth as an artist and a person.


Keep scrolling to see my ranking of the songs on her most recent album:


1. “Dancing With The Devil” 

Lovato belts at the top of her lungs and describes the conflict within herself surrounding her addictions. She depicts feelings of “twisted reality” and “hopeless insanity” and pairs them with images of drinking and doing drugs. This song also shares half of the title of the album and that alone shows its importance in the tracklist.


2. “Easy” (feat. Noah Cyrus)

This is one of the softest songs on the album. It features a soft piano and guitar and features Noah Cyrus. Both of their voices are so strong and create a beautiful feeling of back and forth. The lyrics paired with beautiful rhymes makes this song incredibly heartbreaking and beautiful.


3. “Met Him Last Night” (feat. Ariana Grande)

Lovato sings this song with Nickelodeon star Ariana Grande and the result is incredible. Their combined ranges create a powerful song, and the harmonies are almost too good. This song also includes mentioning of the devil, which is a common theme and image within several of her songs.


4. “Anyone”

Number 4 is the first track on the album and her vulnerability and honesty come through clearly. “Anyone” sounds more like a confession and a cry for help as the lyrics are deeply personal and haunting. Lovato belts out the chorus and emotion floods her voice as she sings “Lord, is there anyone?”


5. “15 Minutes”

This is a slightly lighter song in terms of the content included. Lovato talks herself through a breakup and starts counting down the time that’s left for her and her partner. She bitterly sings, “Ain’t goodbye but it’s good riddance.”


6. “The Way You Don’t Look At Me”

This one has similar tones to song number 2, “Easy,” and is just as heartbreaking. Her deliberate vulnerability is incredibly beautiful and creates an almost conversational song. She softly sings, “I’ve been to hell and back, but this isn’t that.” Lovato plays on her word choices and mentions heaven and hell in contrasting ways, and it creates beautiful imagery. The chorus is quieter than other songs on the album and, as a result, it hits harder due to the softness.


7. “Butterfly”

Number 7 mixes several topics and she weaves the feelings together seamlessly. She is just as unguarded and speaks of her past and her struggles to push past it. She sings, “Forgiveness is the hardest truth // It’s something that you have to choose.” This is a common theme in many of her songs.


8. “Lonely People”

In this song, Lovato pairs hard lyrics with upbeat and loud music, and the contrast is beautiful. She alludes to the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet and then confesses that “All that love is // Is a means to an end.”


9. “California Sober”

Lovato celebrates her sobriety and growth within this song while dancing around small images. These images create a bigger picture surrounding her struggles and personal growth. She sings, “Healing got me lookin’ for freedom // Happiness it used to be fleeting.” Lovato purposefully uses the past tense to prove her movement forward. She also realizes that “The growing part isn’t over.”


10. “Mad World”

Number 10 is a darker song, both in its lyrics and sound. She talks of “drowning her sorrow,” which alludes to her addiction. Lovato also includes references to her past and points at how they shaped her view of the “mad world.”


11. “The Kind Of Lover I Am”

This song is one of the fun ones on the album. Lovato clearly spaces out the difficult songs and adds some softer songs so as to not overwhelm her listeners. Lovato points at her sexuality and says, “It doesn't matter if you’re a woman or a man” and she continues this theme in several other songs. She also admits that “You can safely put your heart in my hands // That’s the kind of lover I am.”


12. “Carefully”

Number 12 is a much softer song, but it is nevertheless beautiful. This song plays like a warning and a plea at the same time as she speaks directly to her lover. She begs that they, “Handle her carefully” but she also admits that, “I’m strong in a way // That I know how to show you my fragile.”


13. “My Girlfriends Are My Boyfriends” (feat. Saweetie)

Lovato sings of her sexuality in a way that greatly mirrors her tone in the song “The Kind Of Lover I Am.” She admits that she does “not need a ring or a vow” because she has her “day ones around.” Lovato plays around with a catchy beat and as a result, she creates an upbeat and fun song.


14. “The Art Of Starting Over”

Number 14 includes the other half of the title of the album. Lovato sounds truly free in this song, and she seems to have overcome the hardest struggles. Starting over can be terrifying, but Lovato takes a new and refreshing look at it, as she says, “Thank god I got me to hold me.”


15. “Good Place”

Lovato acknowledges her hard work and admits that she is finally in a “good place,” which is all she's ever wanted. She admits that she at once chose “drugs over love” and “money over trust” but she now has made her way to a “good place.” Lovato’s clear emotions are what make this song so incredible in the way she describes her growth.


16. “What Other People Say” (feat. Sam Fischer)

This song is very beautiful. Lovato reflects on her dreams as a child and how those dreams quickly shifted with her fame. Sam Fischer’s honey voice trails after Lovato’s and the two combines perfectly together. 


17. “Melon Cake”

Number 17 is a dig at how she grew up and the negative ways society impacted her. She describes a time when she was “A prisoner of her mind.”


I found it very difficult to rank these songs because I simply have too many favorites. No matter where these songs fall on my list, it is clear that Lovato has truly grown into the best version of herself. This album is proof that one can turn the struggles of life into something so much more. Lovato’s Dancing with the Devilthe Art of Starting Over is proof that one can go through hell and still find their way to heaven.