Unbroken is the third studio album by Demi Lovato, released on September 20, 2011 through Hollywood Records.
- All Night Long
- Who's That Boy
- You're My Only Shorty
- Fix A Heart
- Hold Up
- Give Your Heart A Break
- In Real Life
- My Love Is Like A Star
- For The Love Of A Daughter
- Yes I Am
After the release of "Here We Go Again," Demi Lovato was dedicated to her acting career, appearing in the Disney Channel series "Sonny with a Chance" and the Disney Channel film, "Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam."
In July 2010, Lovato began working on her third album and recorded the first track with producer Dapo Torimiro. During that same month, she said the album was "creating a new sound", it would be "fun. A little more R&B/pop.
Later, in a conversation with AHN, she quoted Rihanna and Keri Hilson as influences.
At the time, Lovato revealed she had not rushed the album, stating: "Every other album I haven’t had time to really take my time and craft it like I really wanted to do because I was finding spare time between a television show, and movies, and touring, and then all over again. I've worked on [the album] for the past year and really gone hard over the past few months, but you can definitely tell that I took my time with this record."
In August 2010, Lovato began touring with the Jonas Brothers on their Jonas Brothers Live in Concert Tour with the cast of "Camp Rock 2."
In November 2010, Lovato left the tour in order to enter a treatment facility for "emotional and physical issues". She completed inpatient treatment in January 2011 and returned to the recording studio for her third studio album until February.
In April 2011, Lovato announced that she would not return to Sonny with a Chance, stating that she was choosing to focus on music and would return to acting when she felt confident doing so.
In July, Lovato described the album as "more mature" than their previous sound and more fun and light than her first single, "Skyscraper", while other tracks are more intense.
She announced the title of the album as "Unbroken" in August and explained: "I thought that the title really matched how I am today; I'm unbroken and I'm standing strong."
Production & Recording
Lovato recorded "Unbroken" in sessions at Westlake Recording Studios, Dreamlab Studios, Chalice Studios, Strawberrybee Studios, Dining Room Studios and Kite Studios all located in Los Angeles, California; She also recorded at Patriot Studios in Denver, Colorado, Rock Mafia Studios in Santa Monica, California, The Hit Factory in Miami, Florida, and Sunset Sound Studio in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania.
Discussing the album's recording in interview with Seventeen magazine, Lovato stated: "I love being back in the studio! It's been very therapeutic to be able to express my feelings and talk about who I really am, through my music. It also helps that I've been lucky enough to work with such talented people on the record so far! With my new album, I'm hoping to provide inspiration for girls everywhere who are going through the same issues I've faced. I think this will come through in a lot of the material."
Around 20 tracks were recorded for the album.
Speaking about the album to E! in July 2011, Lovato said people can expect to hear her sing "about some issues that she's never even spoken about before" and also revealed: "There are some [topics] on there that are very deep and it's really out there. For the rest of it, there are a lot of songs that are dancier and a lot more R&B vocals," one of she confirmed as a duet with an R&B singer.
Lovato also worked with Dreamlab, who produced the title track, "Hold Up" and "Mistake". The songs were recorded at Dreamlab Studios in Los Angeles, California and mixed by Serban Ghenea, with assistance from Phil Seaford, in Virginia Beach, Virginia at MixStar Studios.
John Hanes was attributed with engineering for the songs. Lovato also worked with Rock Mafia, Ryan Tedder, and Kara DioGuardi on several tracks.
About working with Lovato, Tedder commented: "Demi blew me out of the water vocally! I had no idea how good her voice is. She's one of the best singers I've ever worked with. Literally, that good... I mean, she's a Kelly Clarkson-level vocalist. And Kelly has a set of pipes." He also explained that the song they co-wrote together is much more upbeat than "Skyscraper", stating: "I think everybody wanted to hear her talk about that, and this is basically flipping it 180, saying, 'Oh, by the way, I'm still also just young and want to have fun.' There's even like a little rap feature on it."
In sessions with Tedder, Lovato recorded various songs, but only one was included on Unbroken, "Who's That Boy". Commenting about the song, Lovato described it as "flirty, it's sexy, it's exciting and I love it."
Record producer Timbaland wanted to record with Lovato after he heard her voice; he felt impressed and curious to work with the singer and began to write songs in an acoustic guitar.
Lovato then met Timbaland at his camp where they discussed the album's direction, She stated she wanted created a more "urban" sound. They met each other again at Westlake Recording Studios, where they developed several songs, including "Lightweight" and "All Night Long."
Missy Elliott was introduced in the production after she listened the sessions for "All Night Long" and asked if she could rap on the song. Lovato agreed, saying, "Of course, that's not even a question."
Jason Derulo was invited to record "Together" while he was in Miami, Florida. In interview with MTV he explained how the collaboration came: "I'm very rarely in Miami and I live in Miami, but before the time I was there, I was there like six months prior and then I haven't been there for a long, long time. But I guess they knew that I lived in Miami. A mutual friend called me and was like, 'Hey, we're at the studio, Demi wanted to get in with you if you were around."
Derulo recorded her verses during the middle of the night at The Hit Factory.
Toby Gad and Lindy Robbins also contributed to the album's co-writing "Skyscraper" with Estonian singer Kerli Kõiv.
Initially, Lovato recorded "Skyscraper" in Studio City, Los Angeles in 2010. During recording sessions, she was "doubled over, just in pain."
After completing her treatment on January 28, 2011, Lovato re-recorded the song, but decided to keep the original recording because she felt that her voice had changed, although noting about her voice was "weaker" when Lovato originally recorded.
Gad also produced "My Love Is Like a Star" and "For the Love of a Daughter." The second song was originally recorded as a pop rock song and intended to appear in Lovato's second album "Here We Go Again."
Although not planning to write a personal song, a "really long talk" with Beckett resulted in the song being written; however, Lovato and her management felt that the song's subject would be too much for her young audience.
After completed the album's recording, Lovato said: "Making the album was a personal journey for me; it was kind of like a roller coaster, I was going through so much over the past year, but at the end of it I just wanted to inspire people and just give them music to have fun dancing to and listening to, and hopefully I accomplished that."
In terms of music, Unbroken" explores uptempo R&B songs and electronic genres in contrast with emotional and personal ballads.
Lyrically, it presents more "mature" themes about relationship in comparison to her previous albums, being described as an "evolution" and next chapter in Lovato's career.
In interview with Billboard, Lovato explained the variety of sounds present in its production, saying: "Ultimately it's pop, but I have songs that are really dance-like, songs that are more R&B, and songs like 'Skyscraper' that are not really R&B at all. And so it just depends on the song."
The album opens with R&B tracks and each song features a guest appearance from an artist.
The opening track "All Night Long" features rapped verses from Missy Elliot. The song incorporates Timbaland's characteristic beats, Lovato sings over a pumping beat, beatbox vocals and guitar riff.
Describing the song, Lovato stated: "It's about staying up all night long and singing it to the boy that you like, and it's flirty and fun and it's not too grown-up, but it's grown-up enough."
"Who's That Boy" features syncopated groove and synths and features singer Dev.
"You're My Only Shorty" contain a repetitive chorus sung by Iyaz, the song is backed by synths.
The fourth track "Together" is a duet with Jason Derulo. Its midtempo R&B song backed by guitar chords. Lyrically, the song delivers an inspirational message about how we can change the world if we come "together."
The fifth track "Lightweight" is a doo-wop-inspired ballad with a minimal orchestral arrangement.
Lyrically, it is the first track to express Lovato's fragility and sensitivity, it can be noted during the chorus where Lovato sings: "I'm a lightweight, easy to fall, easy to break, with every move my world shakes."
The title track "Unbroken" is an uptempo dance song that runs through a "brittle" beat influenced by electro-industrial music. The composition of the song incorporates influences of disco music from the 1980s. Lovato's vocals are accompanied with a synthesized echo in the song’s background.
After the second chorus, the song features a breakdown influenced by dubstep. The beat structure has also been compared to Britney Spears’ 2011 single, "Hold It Against Me." It combines heavy electronic beats with numerous synthesizer keyboard effects.
Lyrically, "Unbroken" is about letting go and not holding anything back when it comes to love. It was interpreted by Jocelyn Vena of MTV that the lyrics were written about "being saved by love."
"Fix a Heart" is a piano-driven ballad that also express an emotional side from Lovato.
"Hold Up" has an uptempo dance beat and synths effects in its production. It shares similar production to the title track, as noted by an editor from Sputnikmusic who described both songs as "fun" and wrote that they "give a new twist (a progress) to her signature pop roots, being a bit edgier."
"Mistake" is the album's third ballad. The song is backed by an electric guitar during its chorus and mainly in the bridge.
Lovato considered the song was "a different take on a breakup." And said she was "really intrigued by the fact that the girl had just been broken up with and it was the other person’s fault and it was the other person’s greatest mistake."
The tenth track "Give Your Heart a Break" features strings, violins and piano accompanied by an dance beat. Describing the song, Lovato said: "It's a song about showing someone you love that you're the one right in front of them. This is a song about faith."
Joe DeAndrea of AbsolutePunk praised "Mistake" and "Give Your Heart a Break" as ballads going "far and beyond anything in Lovato's prior arsenal. It sets a mark as to what should be expected from similar artists such as her, but in the process, distancing herself from being grouped with them becoming a solo entity."
"Skyscraper" was described the most emotional song in the album. According to Lovato, the song's lyrics symbolize her personal journey from where she used to be to "the happy healthy person [she is] today."
The song deals with the difficulties Lovato had been through the past year and overcoming the obstacles she faced. With the song, she hopes that "people are able to relate to it and realize that they are able to rise above and overcome any obstacle, no matter the circumstances and shine like a skyscraper".
"In Real Life" uses keyboard effects and guitar during the chorus.
"My Love Is Like a Star" is a downtempo ballad. John Camaranica from The New York Times wrote that in the song "Lovato appeared to be channeling the soul-excavation of Mary J. Blige."
The album concludes with "For the Love of a Daughter", in the song, she pleads with her father to "put the bottle down" and questions him: "How could you push me out of your world, lie to your flesh and your blood, put your hands on the ones that you swore you loved?"
Indicative in the lyrics: "It's been five years since we've spoken last / And you can't take back what we never had." The song received extreme critical acclaim from music critics, praising heavily on its lyrical content and Lovato's sincerity and vulnerability in her vocals.
"Unbroken" debuted at #4 on the Billboard 200 with sales exceeding 97,000 copies in the United States.
As of 2017, the album has sold 527,000 copies in the United States.
"Unbroken" received mixed reviews from music critics.
On review aggregator Metacritic, the album has a score of 59 out of 100 based on seven reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
While some music critics praised Lovato's vocals and growth in musicianship compared to her previous two albums, as well as some of the album's ballad tracks, others dismissed it as "immature" and "confusing", referring to the album's amount of "party songs".
Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic scored the album two and a half out of five stars, criticizing it as full of party songs that "act like nothing is wrong in her world at all", writing: "It's hard to party knowing Lovato couldn't quite handle the clubs, while it's not easy to trust the melancholy flowing through the ballads knowing she's ready to cut loose."
Erlewine indicated "All Night Long", "Who's That Boy", "Fix a Heart", and "Skyscraper" as the AMG track picks.
Monica Herrera of Rolling Stone also gave the album a mixed review, scoring it 2 out of 5 stars, saying: "She's grown into her voice. Now, if only her music would grow up too."
Mike Schiller writer of PopMatters gave to the album 5 out of possible 10, writing: "Unbroken is a strange beast, an abomination of sorts, a fully-realized album with an extra head and shoulders sticking out of the midsection."
He also criticized the first four songs, writing that the album "would be a far better album without them, but like it or not they’re there, sitting right out in front. It’d seem tragic if such a descriptor wasn’t being used to describe an album so laced with actual, genuine tragedy."
Jon Caramanica of The New York Times gave the album a positive review, saying that it "represents the opportunity for Demi Lovato to wipe clean several slates, something she is well suited for."
Melissa Maerz of Entertainment Weekly also gave a positive review, scoring it a B+ and writing: "Clearly it's been a tough year for Lovato. But as Rihanna could tell her, sometimes bad years make great songs."
Becky Brain of Idolator wrote Lovato has a "killer voice and the A-list material to put it to good use", adding, "It's difficult for many young female pop stars to transition successfully from squeaky-clean Disney kid to respected adult recording artist. But so far, Demi's doing a spectacular job, and she's doing it without having to show some skin or sing about hooking up in a club."
Absolute Punk scored the album 81 out of 100, summarizing it by saying: "Nothing, and nobody, is broken beyond repair, and Unbroken showcases that beautifully."