Overplayed Song of the Week: Demi Lovato, ‘Give Your Heart a Break’
Welcome to the Overplayed Song of the Week. Every week, Hollywood Prospectus editor and masochistically devoted mainstream radio listener Emily Yoshida will pick an aging Top 40 hit that she has heard enough times to render meaningless, and thus ripe for having otherwise inaccessible epiphanies about.
I’ve been doing a pretty good job over the last decade completely ignoring the creative output of every graduate of the Disney Talent Factory (except for Hilary Duff’s “Come Clean,” because I’m not a complete idiot), and not feeling like I’m missing out on very much, but this last summer has seen me slowly Chinese-water-tortured into finally accepting the fact that there may be a few reasons to like Demetria Devonne Lovato. You may be familiar with Ms. Lovato from her roles in Camp Rock and Princess Protection Program (I know, I have no clue either), and she will soon be a prime-time fixture, serving as the lettuce in the Simon Cowell–Britney Spears X Factor judging-panel sandwich. Convenient, then, that her song has reached no. 1 just in time for it to be used as ammunition in the doubtless thousands of “Why is a 20-year-old telling all these grown, homeless adults how to sing?” arguments that are on the horizon. (I think there is a decent amount of investigative reporting to be done into the sneaky phenomenon I refer to as the Cowelluminati — in addition to Lovato’s recent success, some dark magic is afoot that has caused U.K. X Factor alums One Direction to blow up in the States, thus validating the groups category that was a complete joke last season. Sorry, Lakoda Rayne.)
But none of this is really important when you’ve had the hook to “Give Your Heart a Break” stuck in your head for 24 hours, its major key but somehow still plaintive melody tattooing itself on your brain. Like Carly Rae Jepsen’s ubiquitous “Call Me Maybe,” this song employs a string section to ridiculous effect, but that doesn’t mean its call to action to Feel Things and Believe In Love are any less effective. Bottom line: It’s easy to be cynical about this song, but I’d encourage you to give your heart a break and give “Give Your Heart a Break” a break.
Production highlight: Pretty much all pop music is by and for children these days, but I actually feel really safe in a world where teenagers still want a string quartet in their pop songs. The strings here contain all the anticipation and emotion that you felt when you walked onto the dance floor at senior prom, before your date puked in the limo all over your brand-new dress and everyone graduated and went off to college to write semiotics papers and have open relationships.
Production lowlight: NONE DETECTED. Moving on.
Lyrical highlight: It’s not a lyric, but the “whoa-oa-oa” at the end of the bridge is pretty much note-for-note the “whoa-oa-oa” at the opening of Justin Bieber’s “Baby.” I like that such a pretty, melancholy little melody has become a sad dolphin call for tween popsters.
I called your cell phone, my love
But you did not reply
Singing about cell phones has been a time-honored tradition since the word “LEAVE!,” but it works better in the more sassy, upbeat end of the pop spectrum than in more ambitious tunes like this. It’s a struggle to stay with the song after this line, but it gets easier with every listen, and now I barely even notice it. What I’m trying to say is, with hard work and determination, someday you may be able to lower your standards to where mine now lie.