Review Summary: What's wrong with being confident?
Not unlike her third studio effort Unbroken, this album finds Demi recovering from the ashes of her past but rather than be too reflective like on the aforementioned project, she’s turning the focus onto the lessons she’s learned, the confidence she has gained as well as openly showcasing her body and removing the stigma associated with experimenting with your sexuality, at least it seems like it on a surface level. Although it initially seems that in terms of modern former Disney stars breaking from their old image, Miley Cyrus is the leader, Demi has a deeper and darker back-story at her precious age that makes each album seem like an evolution rather than a sudden break from her past image.
This fact makes the outstanding material more curious. Based on the first first two singles, I were expecting a brash, thunderous pop-rock and pop-dance album packed to the brim with monstrous hooks that attempt to outdo each other. Instead, we have an project that’s part dance-pop, a few parts Urban/RnB, several parts soul with a dash of rock and a gospel-inspired closer. Looking at it like that, it’s not hard to view this album as Demi’s more adrenalin-packed answer to the iconic Stripped project that Christina did over a decade ago. But Confident packs a fair amount more energy then that project ever did therefore making this more engaging and not unlike the Lotus project released a decade apart from Stripped.
Now onto the actual material. The first three-track-long stretch is outstanding: we have the two singles (the risque bi-curious anthem that is Cool For The Summer and the uncompromising attitude of the titular track) effectively setting the album agenda and then the first album track Old Ways which became my first album highlight beyond the fantastic singles. I could tell from the teaser that this was going to be a promising track with a powerful and universal message about not regressing in your development despite what other people say. I intermediately related to the core message which increased my enjoyment of the track by a good 75% at least. However, the track highlights one of the core issues on the album from a critical perspective: the instrumentals are so stolen from 2014 and it doesn't provide the energy that the first two singles promised. But I actually like those type of songs on Confident nearly as much.
Two tracks follow in a very similar vein which, surprise surprise, were also highlights. Kingdom Come ft. Iggy Azalea and Waiting For You ft. Sirah. Those two tracks are packed next to each other, which can’t just be a coincidental accident considering how similar those two tracks and Old Ways are: they all start with a dark and atmospheric opening, have a massive beat increase which appears to result in a impending crescendo but then result in a beat-drop and then include predictable vocal runs for the final chorus. Kingdom Come sounds like a slow-burning power-couple anthem with some pretty decent rapper from Iggy who has turned out some decent pop songs such as Black Widow! Funny that I mention that song; the breakdown on this song could have been nearly copied from the breakdown on that song. Iggy’s part also falls into that trap by the end of the rap.
Waiting For You is the peak of the album as the lyrics are pretty brutal with killer couplets which makes Bad Blood seems quaint and like catty play-fighting in comparison such as “Yeah don’t take thing too personal/but you made *** personal/talking about my bad habits/man *** my bad habit's/don’t act like you got none” and “you can run/but save those things for 1 on 1”. While there’s been much discussion regarding the subject of this song “is it about Miley or isn’t it"”, nobody should mess with Demi if this song is to be believed. This has been a much hyped-up track and it didn’t disappoint thanks to the controversial lyrics. This would’ve been enough to make this the best album track but, unfortunately, it’s ruined by some atrocious “rapping” from an up-and-coming artist called Sirah although this isn’t her fault per se: she sounds like she was drifted from some other song, she would sound much better on an island/Jamaican/reggae song (genres which, for the record, are quite good) then an urban-pop banger such as this one. The rap has grew on me but it just doesn’t fit the song although it will push Sirah into international mainstream success. The other major flaw is this: Demi’s more bad-ass and confrontational side has been one of the main focuses of the album’s promotional drive but this song is really the only song of its kind on the album, even though we had the trumpet-lead slice of heaven that is the title track and the bisexual anthem that is CFTS.
A Demi album wouldn’t be one without a couple of self-help ballads and boy does she deliver. Stone Cold, Yes and album closer Father are tied in 1st place along with the iconic Skyscraper for the best ballads that Demi has ever done. All of those songs showcases how Demi’s voice communicates genuine emotion which is hard for most current or former Disney singers who sound like they’re distracted/distant from the song at hand which is fitting for the more personal songs such as Father, which touches on the death of her estranged father. Father is definitively the most affecting ballad, especially as she nearly whispers “I hope heaven’s giving you a second chance” at the end although my heart sank as Demi barely whispers “I don’t want to be stone cold” on Stone Cold. Saying that, we could have lived without her going for the bombastic (yet again) for the final chorus of Father. But wait; didn’t she proclaim how she was done “with the sob stories” and it being a “new chapter, new life, new album”" That’s the worse thing about this record! She wants to hail this as a brand new Demi but this just screams Unbroken (and to a lesser extent DEMI) in the way that she tacks on some upbeat tracks in order to package the more reflective content. The ballads are good but those are just part of a standard Demi album, and I think don't think that Demi was aiming to create a "standard Demi album at all!
Is it worth upgrading to the deluxe edition of the album" I think that the additional tracks provided makes the album more well-rounded as those tracks are also some of the most upbeat tracks on the record after the two singles. Stars is a track that's ideal for causing a frenzy in the club and Mr. Hughes takes the retro vibe that made Uptown Funk and All About That Bass some of the biggest hits of the 21st century and adds Demi's signature vocals in order to create an irresistible earworm. If you're a fan of remixes then you'll love the CFTS ones although they're just tacked on.
I’ve been talking highly of the material but the question is: are there any more hits" I could see most of the tracks, ballads included being popular on the charts especially Kingdom Come as it sounds a mixture of Demi’s new style and the insanely popular Black Widow. I want Stone Cold to be upgraded from promo single status to 3rd single although I have no idea what should be released afterwards. And Waiting should be promised success if released although hopefully in an edited edition. But is the album impactful" As a whole, there are a ton of hooks and tracks that you'll be singing a week later. However, while this is the best album Demi has put her name to, the album is predictable in terms of the music; the ballads are put in the right places on the tracklist, the horns blast at the needed times and the lyrics are controversial when needed. So while this album is impactful, it does so with a frightening level of precision in order to ensure that the material is almost too safe. And absolute perfection is a lot more forgettable than raw vulnerability I think!
I’m also curious as to how Demi is still on the Disney-controlled Hollywood Records for this effort. This material is a lot more adult-orientated than her previous efforts, so much that because of four or five tracks on the album, this is Demi’s first album with the parental advisory logo stuck on. That’s a massive deal because although it’s a lot less explicit than Miley’s Bangerz, it certainly isn't a Disney record. The fact that they green lighted CFTS as the lead single is a massive success and will hopefully pave the way for more LGBQT media off of Disney but the amount of language that this album features certainly won't be making appearances on Girl Meets World anytime soon.
So what do I think of the album" Track-by-track, this album is contender is album of the year and it's certainly refreshing how open she is about her life and her past confidence issues and how that's having an impact on her material, not to mention that the material is so fantastically produced with outstanding vocals to boot but it aimed to be more then what it is.