By Jadyn Hayes
While 2020 proved to be one of the worst years in recent history, two iconic women used their time off from concerts, signings, and meet-and-greets to bring their heart-wrenching stories to our homes. Within the past six months, we have seen: Folklore: The Long Pond Studio Sessions from Taylor Swift, which aired on Disney+ on November 25th, 2020; and Demi Lovato: Dancing with the Devil from Demi Lovato, which will air on YouTube on March 23rd, 2021.
Folklore: The Long Pond Studio Sessions is an intimate conversation between Taylor Swift and the viewer, covering everything from her inspirations for songs to the production process for each track. She not only gives us a beautiful performance, but also a detailed description of what the songs mean to her. She covers painful topics such as heartbreak, identity, and gaslighting.
“It is definitely one of the saddest songs on the album,” Swift says on “Exile,” featuring Bon Iver. “There’s this beautiful moment in the beginning of a friendship where these people have no idea that one day, they’ll hate each other. And try to really take each other out.”
On “Mirrorball” she says, “It’s a metaphor for so many people who feel like they have to be on for certain people. You have to be different versions of yourself for different people. You learn that every one of us has the ability to become a shapeshifter.”
Later, talking about “Mad Woman” she says, “The most rage provoking element of being a female is the gaslighting. For centuries, we’ve been expected to absorb male behavior silently.” This is expressed in the chorus of the song, which says “And when you say I seem angry, I get more angry / And there’s nothing like a mad woman / What a shame she went mad / No one likes a mad woman / You made her like that.”
Swift encapsulates what many felt during the peak of the quarantine with this documentary. “The pandemic and lockdown runs through this album like a thread because it’s an album that allows you to feel your feelings and it’s a product of isolation. . . . This lockdown could have been a time where I absolutely lost my mind, and instead this album was a real floatation device for both of us.”
Demi Lovato: Dancing with the Devil has been announced as Lovato’s personal account of her struggle with drug addiction and mental health. In reference to a near-fatal overdose in 2018 she says, “I had so much to say over the past two years, wanting to set the record straight about what it was that happened.”
“I crossed a line that I had never crossed before…I snapped,” Lovato says. “I had three strokes. I had a heart attack. My doctors said that I had 5 to 10 more minutes.”
She talks about the aftermath of her overdose, saying, “I dealt with a lot of the repercussions and I think they are kind of still there to remind me of what could happen if I ever get into a dark place again. I’m grateful for those reminders but I’m so grateful that I’m someone who didn’t have to do a lot of rehabbing.”
Lovato says she wants her testimony to help people who are going through a similar battle. “That was ultimately my purpose in putting this out . . . to be able to help people who have been on the same path as I have.”
These two talented and successful women have brought us documentaries with music that has current and relatable themes, stories that give us a look into their personal struggles, and footage that displays how real and human they are. Taylor Swift and Demi Lovato have shown us power and productivity in the midst of a painful pandemic.