It’s kind of eerie how Selena Gomez’s and Demi Lovato’s careers have been similar to one another. Both were born in 1992 in the US. Both appeared on Disney Channel sitcoms and went on to launch careers as pop singers.
Last month, within a week of each other, they released new albums, entitled Revival and Confident respectively. The albums are seen as attempts to bid farewell to the stars’ Disney pasts. Music sales will determine whether Gomez and Lovato can succeed on their own terms.
It’s not uncommon for Disney stars to “break free” from their carefully manicured pasts. A generation ago, Disney alums Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera pioneered the formula for transitioning from teen idol to mainstream icon: a clean-cut artist develops a devoted teen fan base, and then declares independence.
The declaration often involves getting a statement haircut and recording songs about busting out of chains, cutting strings and stripping naked.
Gomez and Lovato are undergoing the same kinds of transformation. However, their works transcend those paradigms, according to Inquisitr. Theirs is a more mature reinvention, one that details their personal struggles.
Neither Gomez nor Lovato was a perfect fit for Disney’s good-girl mold, even at the height of their teen idol days. Gomez has had turbulent relationship with fellow pop star Justin Bieber. She has tried to emerge from Bieber’s shadow by releasing her own string of hits: Come & Get It, The Heart Wants What It Wants and now Good for You.
Lovato, on the other hand, did stints in rehab for substance abuse and eating disorders. She recounts the experience in her power anthem Confident.
Their new albums delve into their personal lives in intimate, but not “adult”, ways. Gomez herself reflected on how she and her ex-Disney colleagues have evolved over the last few years.
“Everyone has found their identity in a really interesting way,” Gomez told Refinery29. “We didn’t come out as these robots that looked and dressed the same.”
That pursuit of uniqueness is also reflected in their music. In Revival, Gomez sings about “empowerment as transcendence”, said The Atlantic in its review, before complimenting her “calm power”. Lovato’s Confident, on the other hand, is defined by its tone of aggression. Lovato is “sweating for self-determination”, according to The Atlantic.
“Taken on their own, Gomez’s and Lovato’s albums aren’t breaking any radical new pop ground... But what’s most remarkable and exciting about Revival and Confident is how two talented women who may have seemed like carbon copies of each other at first are becoming individual artists. Not unlike Britney and Christina,” wrote Entertainment Weekly.