By Dean Goodman
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Disney teen idol Demi Lovato kicks off her first headlining U.S. tour next month with the usual trappings, like a band and a flashy light show.
And the same youngsters who blew out their parents’ eardrums at concerts by Disney stablemates the Jonas Brothers and Miley Cyrus will likely work themselves into another high-pitched frenzy when the 16-year-old singer/actress takes the stage.
But what the Texas-born star of the Disney Channel series “Sonny with a Chance” really wants to do is play big arenas by herself, more in the earnest mold of a certain veteran rocker rarely linked to teen pop.
“I want to get to the point where one day I don’t have to have anything but a rug and a microphone stand on stage and still be able to sell out places like Madison Square Garden, like Bruce Springsteen does,” Lovato told Reuters in a recent interview.
“People are there to appreciate his music rather than his glamour or anything like that. It’s kinda the path I wanna go down with music, to become more credible and more respected as an artist and musician.”
Credibility, respect and artistry are qualities not often associated with teen pop — or with pop music in general these days. Carefully manufactured singers perform tunes written by others. And if they’re actually singing, that’s a bonus.
But the fresh-faced Lovato does not seem to be a complete invention of the Disney marketing machine, even if a publicist did cut off business-related questions during the interview.
“I’d rather sound really bad than lip-synch,” she said. “And that’s happened. I’ve had really bad shows, but at least people know that I’m not lip-synching. And that’s more important to me … It’s definitely not gonna be a Britney Spears-type show.”
JOHN MAYER ON BOARD
Lovato opened for the Jonas Brothers last year, and will be on the road when her second, as-yet-untitled second album comes out in July.
It is the follow-up to “Don’t Forget,” which debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 last September and has sold a respectable 403,000 copies to date in the United States. Lovato wrote or co-wrote nine of the 11 tracks on that album, and was similarly involved with the creative process on the follow-up.
One of her collaborators on the new album was singer/guitarist John Mayer, her No. 1 idol, who worked on two songs, “World of Chances” and “Shut Up and Love Me.”
Lovato also cites not only pop singers Kelly Clarkson and Christina Aguilera as influences, but also Aretha Franklin.
“The music doesn’t necessarily sound like hers, but there’s some songs on there that I put a lot of heart and soul into, and she’s really inspired me.”
One song, “For the Love of the Daughter,” deals with Lovato’s estranged father. “We are not, and yes it is,” she answered when asked if they were on speaking terms, or if the relationship was difficult. “That’s life,” she said.
Boys are easy fodder for her songs, but stardom gets in the ay of teen romance. Lovato says it’s hard to develop a meaningful relationship when a boy kisses her then exclaims, “I can’t believe I’m kissing you.”
“I hate relationships, so I’m not like a relationship-type person,” she said. “But I have a lot of cute friends, That’s all I need when you’re 16 and in the spotlight.”
Lovato’s arena tour begins on June 21 in Hartford, Conn., and dates are on tap through August 24 in Manchester, New Hampshire.