Confessional ballads connect the most with individuals emotionally. Weaknesses are easier to divulge as authenticity is sensed. Feelings are broadcasted without a word being spoken. Music speaks what one cannot but into words. I couldn’t agree with that statement any more. More times than not, confessional ballads are the songs that end up on my top ten lists.
Love, addiction, mental health are all proposals of discrimination and judgment. Often times, these affairs are written in songs and then expressed that way. Easier portrayed, easier understood.
Demi Lovato’s revelation in “Sober” is hauntingly similar to my recent behavior and feelings, both metaphorically and literally. I have never touched a drug or alcohol, but the isolation and confinement within your own mental health feels similar to me.
“Sober” was released on June 21st, 2018, with few announcements or promotion. Lovato put out this revelation after six years of sobriety. Shortly after the release, Lovato overdosed and proceeded to seek treatment at a rehabilitation facility.
“Sober” was introduced to me through a text message that read, “You have to hear this. You will love this.” I was familiar with Lovato, considering the height of her Disney Channel career was when I was an active viewer. I knew her albums, and like most everybody else, this release came as a surprise.
Lovato begins “Sober” as a simple, chordal composition. Truly minimalistic, which makes the song that much more moving and poignant. The entire track never goes beyond the simplicity of a piano and strings. Although I don’t relate to Demi’s addiction in the sense of substance abuse, the feelings she expresses are all still prominent in my own experiences.
I’ve got no excuses / For all of these goodbyes / Call me when it’s over / Cause I’m dying inside / Wake me when the shakes are gone / And the cold sweats disappear / Call me when it’s over and myself has reappeared.
Lovato’s whispering suggests that communications have ended on behalf of herself and her behaviors. Anybody that has suffered, or is suffering, a mental ailment knows that preserving a relationship of any sort is not at the forefront of your mind when succumbing to your own needs.
I have had relationships in my life dissolve due to what I’ve kept secret. The longer things remain confidential, the more powerful they become. By the time the truth comes out, you have already lost everything. Demi literally speaks of drug use; I think of switching states of mind.
I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know why / I do it every, every, every time / It’s only when I’m lonely / Sometimes I just wanna cave and I don’t wanna fight / I try and I try and I try and I try and I try / Just hold me, I’m lonely
This pleading reasoning exposes vulnerability to its core. Its simplicity allows it to stand out even more. I find myself at my lowest uttering the same hurt. Why do we feel this way? We don’t know.
As the chorus begins, Lovato issues apologies, telling her mother she isn’t sober anymore, and tells her father she’s sorry for spilling drinks on the floor. Another apology is issued to all who have experienced this fall with Demi before.
Each pain-filled word falls directly from Lovato’s lips onto the floor. You can’t help but feel overwhelmingly raw.
Personally, I have been addicted to behaviors such as self-harm. It was my way of relieving any vulnerability and inner demons. I know what it is like all too well to have to re-admit that you have relapsed and the only thing you can do to attempt to accept yourself and other’s feelings is to admit that you’ve relapsed.
Momma, I’m so sorry, I’m not sober anymore / And daddy, please forgive me for the drinks spilled on the floor / To the ones who never left me, we’ve been down this road before / I’m so sorry, I’m not sober anymore
This honest remorse channels the ache deep within us all and it is hard not to taste the bruising. Same literal experience or not, exposing brutal confessions in the form of apologies is something many of us have endured.
A song at this level of honesty always feels as if I written it myself.
If you obsess over singers and bands, and are one of those people who make a playlist for every occasion, join CMN’s Music Journalism Course and get real-time experience, intense feedback on your writing, exposure to music industry insiders, and a great place to display build your portfolio. Get all the details on the Music Journalism Course here.