On a recent sunny afternoon,Demi Lovato emerged from a black tractor-size SUV and made her way onto a stage set up at an upscale outdoor mall,where she was to perform at the opening of a new Topshop. As screaming Lovatics (as Lovatos fans proclaim themselves) flashed iPhones at the pop star,she looked a little sheepish. This was understandable: Her right foot was encased in a black silver-studded cast that resembled a giant ski boot.
But as Lovato hobbled over to the microphone,dressed in a biker jacket and tight black pants,she overcame the awkwardness,her dark-painted lips breaking into a dazzling smile.
Im feeling great, she yelled to the crowd,gamely kicking her injured foot into the air before launching into her chart-topping song Give Your Heart a Break.
Embracing unairbrushed moments has become a defining characteristic of Lovato,20,one that has helped propel her back into the spotlight after a sudden fall from grace (in late 2010,she entered rehab for issues related to an eating disorder and cutting) that brought her career to a halt.
Rather than adhere to the Hollywood playbook of dismissing facts,Lovato has openly aired her troubles,tweeting to her 12 million fans about how she spent New Years Eve in rehab,and talking to Katie Couric about feeling fat while still in diapers.
Instead of tarnishing her image,these candid revelations seem to have bolstered her. She is in negotiations to return as a judge for the next season of reality singing show The X Factor. She was arguably the breakout star of the show last winter. And her new song,Heart Attack,was No. 1 on iTunes its first week of release. Some critics compare her to the reality-show hall-of-famer Kelly Clarkson.
Lovatos approach has proved far savvier,as has her decision to use X Factor,which last season averaged 8 million viewers,as a comeback vehicle. Nowhere did she seem more authentic, as her handlers like to say,than on that show,emerging as a lively,relatable judge who was far more at ease than her fellow panelist Britney Spears. While Spears offered terse critiques to contestants,Lovato was a nurturing den mother,at one point walking onstage to console a crying singer,Jillian Jensen,who said she had been bullied at school. (Lovato attributes her own struggles to being bullied when she was 12.)
X Factor also allowed Lovato to cultivate her image as a fashion idol with Gwen Stefani and Joan Jett leanings: bright pink bangs,winged eyeliner and lots of leather jackets to go with her multiple tattoos.
She looks amazing, said Dana Mathews,senior entertainment editor of Teen Vogue,which featured Lovato on the cover of its November issue. On the cover,her hair was dyed blue on the bottom and our readers loved it. Katy Perry was on the cover last May with blue hair but it was completely dyed,not half and half. Demi kind of takes risks and people like that.
Now Lovato is returning to her love of music with an album that Ken Bunt,the executive vice president of Disney Music Group,calls the most cohesive album shes put together. It tells a story.
Lovato said: With my earlier songs I hadnt figured out who I was musically yet. Its a process. You evolve over time,and you never nail it,but now I have a pretty good idea. I have a better sense of who I am as a musician.
When asked whether a return to TV or movies is in her future,though,Lovato smiled and reached for her teacup.
I feel like I have too many tattoos to go back to acting, she said.