Demi Lovato has scored this year with her smash “Cool for the Summer,” one of the raciest tunes she’s released yet. But on her fifth studio album Confident, due out Oct. 16, the singer reveals she’s coming from a more emotional place. “There are definitely sexy songs,” she says. “But the ones that ended up making the album are very soulful.”
Don’t expect a collection of ballads, though. Lovato drew on her admiration for her favorite female rock stars, Pat Benatar and Paramore’s Hayley Williams. “Pat was one of my big influences growing up,” she says. “There’s not a lot of powerful female vocalists in the rock industry. I really looked up to Hayley, too, because she’s totally like Pat Benatar. And I don’t want to see rock-influenced music fade.”
That aesthetic extends to “Cool for the Summer,” which Lovato says she likes to call her “’80s rock ballad from the future.” But, she won’t her rock nostalgia get in the way of accessibility. “I used to be a music snob,” she says. “I never listened to the radio—I listened to stuff you’ve never heard of. But you can be super talented, but if you don’t have a hit song you won’t get that level of success.” That could explain Lovato’s decision to invite Iggy Azalea to contribute a guest verse when performing the song at Sunday’s VMAs.
Lovato adds that she’s mixing things up on a track featuring a gospel choir—”I really go there with my vocals, soulfully”—and another cut that shows off her “Motown-influenced side.” She has also dedicated a song to her late father, Patrick, who died in 2013. “It’s extremely raw [but] I definitely had some closure [with that song],” she admits. Lovato, who has overcome struggles with bipolar disorder and addiction in the past, also admits that the record shows off a newfound poise. “I feel very secure in who I am as an artist and as a person,” she says. “I never write songs that are about things I don’t relate to. I won’t be able to sing it if I don’t mean it.”