It’s impossible to talk about the musical history that gave rise to recent hits like Olivia Rodrigo’s “good 4 u” without spending a large amount of time on Demi Lovato. From “La La Land” and “Get Back” to “Don’t Forget” and “Remember December,” Demi’s love of pop-punk has been a constant since their Disney days in the late aughts. Holy Fvck, their upcoming eighth studio album and their first since 2021’s Dancing With the Devil… The Art of Starting Over, features their brand-new song, “Skin of My Teeth,” as its first single.
Demi’s most recent album, which was nominated for Album of the Year at the Bulletin Awards, was a patchwork of atonement, solace, and uncompromising self-reflection. “Skin of My Teeth” follows a sequence of carefully chosen moments to solidify this pivot, from a “funeral” for their mainstream music to an edgy new hairstyle to collaborations with All Time Low (“Monsters”) and Winnetka Bowling League (“Fiimy”). But “Skin of My Teeth” is more of a return home than a pivot. When is this stuff gonna end, they scream at the start of the song as Demi exits rehab once more. Self-referential lyrics seldom succeed, but with Demi—a performer whose body of work and character are founded on the values of openness and honesty—it fits like a glove.
Demi spends the most of the song howling, accompanied by raucous guitars, bouncy rhythms, and an ironic cover of Hole’s “Celebrity Skin.” Particularly in pop-punk, the bridge is a song’s most important component, and Demi kills it. I’m just trying to keep my head above water / I’m your son and I’m your daughter, they murmur in a reverb-drenched voice, in a devastating couplet that balances Demi’s own nonbinary identity with the addiction’s never-ending fight.
Although “Skin of My Teeth” is tough to listen to, Demi’s voice has never sounded more at ease. Although their attempts at pure pop and R&B were successful, their pop-punk moments are surrounded by an unmistakable effortlessness. Hopefully the other songs on the CD have more thorough engineering as Holy Fvck approaches. Demi’s vocals on “Skin of My Teeth” are subdued and feel unintentionally absorbed by the instrumentation, which is out of character for her. However, pop-punk Demi is back and much more fantastic than before.