Not so long ago, there was a time when the most gasp-inducing thing I thought Demi Lovato could do was perform for a presumed alien on her Peacock series, Unidentified with Demi Lovato. But less than a year later, it appears I’ve been proven wrong by the ever-evolving, persistently surprising singer.
This week, as Lovato promotes her new album, Holy Fvck, she unveiled “29,” an unflinching denouncement of men who date much younger women—more specifically, her ex-boyfriend, Wilmer Valderrama. Though she never names the That 70's Show star, you might recall that the former couple met when she was a mere 17 years old, and publicly began dating one year later. Valderrama is 12 years Lovato’s senior.
On the first verse of “29,” she sets the scene and begs a salient question:
“Petal on the vine / Too young to drink wine / Just five years a bleeder / Student and a teacher / Far from innocent / What the fuck’s consent? / Numbers told you not to / But that didn’t stop you.”
On the final chorus, Lovato, now the age Valderrama was when they began dating, leaves little room for confusion about how she feels about that age difference now:
“Finally 29 / 17 would never cross my mind / Thought it was a teenage dream, a fantasy / But it was yours it wasn’t mine.”
And just in case it wasn’t painstakingly clear that she’s referring to Valderrama, Lovato muses on her ex’s penchant for dating younger women, making a rather explicit allusion to his current fiancée—who also happens to be more than 10 years his junior—on the second verse:
“I see you’re quite the collector / Yeah, you’re 12 years her elder / Maybe now it doesn’t matter / But I know fucking better”
The track is a far cry from Lovato’s previous comments about her ex. In 2014, she praised Valderrama for aiding in her recovery from bulimia, and the following year, she wrote that he loved her “the way I never thought I deserved,” on Instagram. In her 2018 documentary Simply Complicated, Lovato theorized that her heart would “always be with Wilmer,” despite their 2016 breakup: “I’m pretty sure that I’m not going to meet anybody that compares to him, but I’m trying to keep an open heart and open mind when it comes to that.”
It’s been said many times that turning 30 has a way of putting things into perspective, and while Lovato has had some bad takes™ in the past, she’s not wrong about the fact that men’s pursuit of women several years younger than them—in some cases, when they’re still girls (looking at you, Dane Cook)—is both unequivocally wrong and really fucking gross.
Predictably, Valderrama has yet to comment on “29.”
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