“Still Alive” by Demi Lovato
About half a year ago Demi Lovato dropped a LP, “Holy Fvck”, which managed to break the top 10 of the Billboard 200 and UK Albums Chart.
On 3 March 2023 “Still Alive”, which also is backed by Island Records, became the first single she has come out with since then (i.e. that is not part of the album). Lovato, who co-wrote this piece with Laura Veltz and its producer, Mike Shinoda, described this track as a song that speaks to her personal life yet at the same time is in congruence with the film it was created for.
That film would be Scream VI, i.e. the latest entry in the Scream franchise, which in its entirety dates back to 1996.
The music video to this track, as directed by Jensen Noen, features (a cameo of) Mike Shinoda, who of course is a known musician in his own right, being the lead vocalist of Linkin Park. In fact Shinoda co-leads “In My Head”, another song found on the Scream VI soundtrack, alongside Jake Torrey. And Spencer Charnas, a name some readers would recognize as being the frontman of Nine Inch Nails, also pops up in the clip.
THE LYRICS OF “STILL ALIVE”
This song commences with the vocalist making disturbing observations such as her “throat [being] chained at the collar”, being “stuck to a machine or choking and screaming with (her) hands tied”.
Or as further alluded to in the pre-chorus she is in some type of danger, presumably being trapped in some state of deadly peril. To make matters worse, upon pleading for help, “nobody comes” to heed her cries.
From the perspective of Scream VI, which, to reiterate, is a horror movie, such lyrics could be taken as literal. In other words, that movie into a genre where victims and women in particular are regularly depicted as being stalked by a murderer under circumstances where there’s usually no one around to help. And the first verse of this song especially can be taken as being inspired by such a plotline.
But as the piece progresses, it also becomes increasingly obvious that for the most part the lyrics are meant to be metaphorical. And figurative language aside, what they are more accurately speaking to is the vocalist’s resiliency. It speaks to Demi being able to proclaim that she’s “still alive” even though for instance she’s “already died a thousand time” and has been “to hell” and back, as some would say.
Fans of Lovato know that such themes of resiliency have been regularly present in her music of late, primarily in regards to her struggles with drug addiction. But in this case, it is theoretically possible that the songstress may also be referring to her dedication as a musician.
That is to say that thus far, the 2020s have been far less kind to Demi than her heyday of the 2010s, which of course wasn’t that long ago. And the aforementioned “Holy Fvck”, despite having a notable critical showing, really didn’t impress as compared to the earlier entries in her catalog.
So perhaps we say that an artist of lesser resolve under similar circumstances would become discouraged to the point of quitting. But here we have Lovato, “still alive” and hot in the game.
I don’t wanna just survive
Give me something to sink all my teeth in
Eat the devil and spit out my demons
Already died a thousand times
Went to hell but I’m back and I’m breathing
Make me bleed while my heart is still beating
That said, the lyrics of this track are, to reiterate, quite macabre. But even if they are so as inspired by the Scream franchise, ultimately references to “hell”, “demons”, death and so forth are common in the American music industry, pretty much across all genres.
So any listener who is even slightly mature would know the wording isn’t, in the grand scheme of things, literal. Furthermore it is ascertainable, regardless of the overall darkness of the lyrics, that the thesis sentiment actually revolves around the vocalist celebrating her ability to survive even in what can be taken as the worst or most-disheartening of situations.