“As the smoke clears, I awaken,” Demi Lovato sings in her inspirational anthem, “Skyscraper.”
Chances are, if you’re not a diehard Lovatic or even a follower of the Disney star-turned-pop princess’ career, you at least know the 2011 hit. At the time, “Skyscraper” was Lovato’s highest charting single and went on to receive the Best Video With a Message award at the 2012 MTV Video Music Awards.
Seven years later, Lovato’s career has continued forward and upward as she’s released hits like “Heart Attack,” “Confident,” “Cool for the Summer,” and “Sorry Not Sorry.” She’s also created a fiercely loyal fan base that oftentimes is referred to as the Lovatics and toured the world with a message and a purpose -- to shed light on mental health and to champion recovery.
On Tuesday, when news broke that Lovato had been hospitalized due to what sources tell ET was a drug overdose, the deep pain and sadness of the news reverberated throughout the Internet with stars and fans alike sending their heartfelt wishes to the 25-year-old pop star. It was a true testament to Lovato’s work in the field of mental health and addiction awareness. She opened up the conversation, broke down the stigmas and fought for those suffering. So, when it came time for her to face her own demons in such a public way, there were plenty of “warriors” to back her up.
All of this challenging and important work seems to have started with “Skyscraper.” The song was originally recorded before Lovato sought treatment in 2011 for a variety of issues including substance abuse, an eating disorder and cutting.
“I had to release it because I wanted to talk about the issues that I had and the journey I’d been on,” Lovato told the Associated Press in 2011. “I didn’t want to come out with a dance song like right off the bat and have people be like, ‘Wait, what? I thought she was in rehab and then this happened and now she’s coming out with a dance song.’ I wanted to have a song that explained it and was emotional enough.”
The anthem is all about building yourself up after being torn down and Lovato has frequently called it her “cry for help,” noting she recorded it before she’d ever publicly addressed any of her struggles. Lovato produced two versions of the ballad – one pre-treatment and one post. Ultimately, she chose to release the first rendition.
“It just didn’t feel the same, so we kept the original one,” she told Ryan Seacrest in 2011. “For me it was so symbolic, it being the song I recorded before treatment and yet it was providing a message. It’s so crazy the way things played out, that it ended up being my symbol and it represented what I’m trying to spread the word about – getting help and rising above any issues that [I and] my fans are dealing with.”
The music video, which was filmed after Lovato came out of treatment, was equally symbolic for the singer.
“There were so many things that represented my addictions and eating disorders and self-harm. When I’m unraveling this black fabric… It was the toxicity that took over my mind for so long, that oozed out of every pore that I had because I was suffering inside,” she explained to Seacrest at the time. “I’m taking it off and walking on broken glass and powering through it.”
Calling the video “like therapy,” she added, “That’s when I realized, that’s what music videos are all about.”
When the song was released, Lovato penned a note to her young fans in Seventeen, writing, “My biggest wish for this song is that it’s able to inspire others and urge them to keep moving forward no matter what the odds.”
Years later, the song has done just that, and it certainly wasn’t the last time the GRAMMY nominee has spoken her truth through her music. The most recent example being her telling new single, “Sober,” in which she sings about what it's like to relapse. After the release of the song, a source confirmed to ET that Lovato had in fact relapsed after six years of sobriety.
Unlike “Skyscraper,” there were no hints of redemption or overcoming her demons in “Sober.”
“Sometimes I just wanna cave and I don’t wanna fight,” she sings. “I try and I try and I try and I try. Just hold me. I’m lonely.”
Her latest song is a far cry from the empowering words of “Skyscraper,” or even her other potent songs like “Warrior,” “Confident,” and “Sorry Not Sorry" -- but that’s just Lovato’s humanity showing. If there’s one thing Lovato has proven, it’s that she’s not one note and she still has so much left to say.
On Tuesday, a rep for Lovato released a statement following her hospitalization. “Demi is awake with her family who want to express thanks to everyone for the love, prayers and support," read the statement. "Some of the information being reported is incorrect and they respectfully ask for privacy and not speculation as her health and recovery is the most important thing right now.”
If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
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