Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

Demi Lovato – Don’t Forget

Tears on her pillow, pain in her heart, caused by you-ou-ou-ou = COMMENCE GUITAR ONSLAUGHT…


Dave Moore: Excellent ballad from the best (by some distance) of the post-Miley crop of Disney cross-platformers. Quiet, staccato power chord build-up gives her a nice spotlight for a more modest use of her big voice than the Paramore-esque blarings she indulges a bit during the inevitable pop-punk power surge (they put it off as long as they can to let the tension mount, but the shift is anticlimactic). The song’s underlying sweetness remains unmoved amid the chug, like a sapling surviving a brief hurricane in the middle of a shopping mall.

Doug Robertson: Demi, created through the Disney production line that has managed to do for music what those Parental Advisory stickers never quite succeeded, sings songs that have been written for her by the Jonas Brothers. Which means that’s she’s singing songs that even they felt weren’t good enough for their own album, which should give you a rough idea of the sort of quality we’re talking about here. This plods along, feeling like something is about to kick in for the first couple of minutes, but when it does – and by “kick in” we mean “a guitar turns up” – you’re just left with the feeling of “Oh, is that it?”.

Frank Kogan: Demi sings with all these actorly mannerisms, enunciating words super clearly, emoting just as clearly so that you comprehend the psychology of the character, etc. 999 out of 1,000 singers who do this are really irritating, as if they didn’t trust the words and music to come across unless they made a supreme effort to ensure that every nuance was detectable in the last row. Demi is the thousandth, her staginess ratcheting up the feeling without losing the musicality. And she can do this with guitars blaring just as much as on a relative softie like this one. An amazing talent, and this track isn’t even close to her best.

Erika Villani: This isn’t the best song on Demi’s debut album (the best would be her one-two punch takedown of both Disney and the Disney haters, or her charming story of falling for a guy with an untreated mental illness, or her stompy, vaguely power-pop party anthem) but it’s pretty irresistible nonetheless: love as a song he refuses to sing, her pleading need for him to acknowledge that it wasn’t all in her head, the way the whole thing builds to a perfectly timed tidal wave of guitars and dominance. I never thought I would agree with John Mayer about anything, but yeah, this girl will be making a lot of records.

Alex Macpherson: It starts out pleading; backed by just a plucked guitar and the occasional whisper, Lovato sounds shell-shocked at the betrayal, but still hopeful that it’s not permanent. As the beat comes in, the situation sinks in and resignation creeps into her voice. She waits until over midway through to pull out the stops and come back out, all guitars blazing, but even this catharsis is brief respite; the explosion dies down a mere 40 seconds later, and, as if it never happened, Lovato enters the string-backed mourning stage. And finally, her voice suddenly clear as a bell, a crackling record and the tinkle of a music box provide the closure. Lovato’s final revenge? She finally accepts that “our love is like a song, but you won’t sing along” – but, having handily compressed the gamut of emotions into 4 minutes via a performance of surprising delicacy and a simple, repeated hook, she’s ensured that everyone else, at least, will be singing along.

Keane Tzong: There’s nothing good here: insipidly squeaky vocals drain this of any urgency or power it might ever have had, and the lyrics fare little better. Most insultingly, the musical nothingness on display here for the majority of the song might lead one to expect a climax of some kind, but even that hope is dashed by a payoff that is so appallingly insignificant and toothless it retroactively makes the past two and a half minutes even less enjoyable. Oh, and I hate her stupid chin too.

Chris Boeckmann: Demi is really great at that whole Paramore/Ashlee brand of angsty female teen rock, so it’s no surprise that “Don’t Forget” slays during the loud guitar bits, but, wow, I did not expect such a sucker punch with those heartbreaking verses. “Our love is like a song, but you won’t sing along. You’ve forgotten.” Awesome buildup, and gorgeous production, too.

Mike Atkinson: “Our love is like a song; you can’t forget it.” Now, there’s a presumptious generalisation (what, any song, even this year’s Bulgarian Eurovision carcrash?) – not to say a double-edged one (I’ve had “The Promise” stuck in my head for most of the day, but that doesn’t make it a particularly desirable return visitor). The line concludes the clonkiest section of an altogether leaden piece of work, which confirms any suspicions I might have had about the compositional skills of the Jonas Brothers. The tentative, marginally Pachelbel-esque opening section drags on way too long, failing to prepare the ground for the thrashy “Homage to Demi’s Deep Love of Metal” section, which crashes in from nowhere like a mistimed cut-and-paste. “Our love is like a song, but you won’t sing along”, concludes Demi, lowering her tear-streaked face as the rain lashes down around her. Well, if you must set these dirge-based metaphorical traps…

David Raposa: If anyone deserves the stinkeye, it’s JB producer John Fields, a defacto friend of Radio Disney who’s gorging himself on about 13 different types of cake over the course of this tune. You’ve got muted-guitar strums (shades of “Lose Yourself”!) segueing into Big Rock Armageddon, emo-pop flourishes (including a cameo by the string section from “Hey Delilah”) and an invasive microphone picking up every gasp and catch in Lovato’s wispy, over-reaching voice. And in case you thought “Don’t Forget” was showing too much restraint, the song goes out on a cloud of twinkly piano and faux-intimate static. I’m all for treating songs like hi-tech kitchen sinks, but it helps to drain the water once in a while.

Tom Ewing: There’s dynamics, and then there’s pissing about.

Additional Scores

Jonathan Bradley: [8]
Briony Edwards: [5]
Ian Mathers: [2]
Al Shipley: [6]
Martin Skidmore: [10]

15 Responses to “Demi Lovato – Don’t Forget”

  1. hi dere dissensus!

  2. I agree w/Erika that ‘Don’t Forget’ isn’t (even) the best track on the album – my favourite is ‘The Middle’, all stormy desperation and huge crashing guitars, which reminds me of Lindsay Lohan’s ‘Nobody Til You’ (a v high compliment, obv). The Lovato song I can’t get enough of right now, though, which I have to play at least 5 times a day, is the Robin Thicke-esque (!) ‘Behind Enemy Lines’, which is just this impossibly irresistible spring jam full of the joy of just starting to fall head over heels…and her vocal performance is really amazing.

    On which note, I can understand the criticism along the lines of “this song futzes around too much” – I only realised I loved it (as opposed to liked it) when I paid attention to it for this review – but calling her voice insipid and squeaky? Uh, what? Though I do remember Keane T praising such vocal luminaries as La Roux and Bat For Lashes so, um, yeah.

  3. I can’t remember what I said abt her voice in my full blurb – I think on this track (particularly the end w/the static, which really turned me off) she’s too mannered with it, but I don’t think it’s a bad voice per se.

  4. Controversy Index is 2.47, which puts her at #6 below KIG and above Depeche Mode.

  5. Lex, for the first 30 seconds “The Middle” is a direct lift from Ashlee Simpson’s “Nothing New,” then it goes into Lindsay Land, all of which makes plenty of sense given that Kara DioGuardi co-wrote “Nothing New” and “Nobody ‘Til You,” and “The Middle” and has a license to steal from herself. (All three of those songs are terrific.)

  6. For the record, the Jonas Brothers songs for Demi Lovato are much better than the Jonas Brothers songs for the Jonas Brothers. (Also, what’s wrong with her chin?)

  7. Also, for the record, these songs weren’t written for her by the Jonas Brothers but with her (except for “Trainwreck,” which is credited to Demi alone, and “Party,” “Until You’re Mine,” “The Middle,” and “Believe in Me,” which are credited to various combinations of Demi and pro songwriters).

    Dave, to gossip blog commenters and the more hateful JoBro fans, she is not-so-affectionately known as “Butt Chin.” (You’re all class, Keane Tzong.)

  8. <3 her chin

    i guess i’m not as up on the disney crew as others, but “burnin up” and “la la land” are such 10/10 classics that i’m forever okay w/ the jonases

  9. Love how her faux-whisper is the same volume as her faux-yelp. Yay for compression!

    Oh my god is this a dire song. Of course, since I would have given it a 0, there have to be multiple 10s.

  10. I do specialize in class, or the lack thereof!

    As for Demi’s voice– it is squeaky, but more importantly it bores me to tears (I love all sorts of objectively “bad” vocalists so it’s the latter that bothers me more)- honestly, even the Jonas Brothers’ whining appeals to me more, as they seem to know how to play to their strengths on record at least. Demi has no direction, no form, just misplaced melodrama and hubris.

  11. So lex likes Lovato’s voice, but thinks Robyn is a harridan.

    I’m just going to keep muttering “there’s no accounting for taste” under my breath.

  12. I had never noticed Demi’s chin before today, and now it’s the first thing I see in every photo of her. It’s a good chin though. She’s ADORABLE on Twitter btw (@ddlovato).

    Really hate all the Jonas Bros songs I’ve heard, can’t tell whether it’s just cuz I can’t abide their emo-lite whines and love Demi’s nuanced clarity, or whether Dave is right and their songs for her are just better. Does anyone know who wrote ‘Behind Enemy Lines’? Wikipedia is silent on the matter – it’s such a huge departure from her usual sound though, it’s amazing how well she pulls it off. Really, no one can hear that and still bitch about her voice.

  13. My review, why not:

    Demi Lovato – Don’t Forget
    So this starts off like some quirky indie chick along the lines of Regina Spektor or something, which was OK, but after talking coy and making eyes for a couple minutes, she suddenly blasts into a gigantic Paramore-via-Michelle Branch hook, which had me asking myself, “Hey Jonathan, what kind of quirky indie chick is stupid and awesome enough to shove an enormous and unexpected pop-punk bit into her already quite pleasant song?” And that sent me over to Wikipedia, which counts as research for lazy music writers, and it turns out she’s some Disney girl in Camp Rock with the Jonas Brothers. And I’m all like, “Fuck this, I don’t need to be going around liking another Miley Cyrus.” But then Lovato finishes her noisy guitar section and she whispers “Don’t forget” all hurt and sad like, and, OK, fine, I like it.

  14. And, for what it’s worth, I checked out the other Lovato tracks linked above. None did much for me, though “La La Land” was the best of the lot.

  15. Lex, “Behind Enemy Lines” is Lovato/Jonas/Jonas/Jonas. (AllMusic mistakenly credits it to Lovato/DioGuardi/Fields, but I knew that was too good to be true.) And it turns out I think the Jonas Brothers’ songs are great when they’re being sung by poised young ladies instead of the Jonas Brothers.