Demi Lovato is set to take the stage during the 2012 MTV Video Music Awards pre-show on Thursday, September 6, and the big-voiced “X Factor” judge will be performing her chart-topping Unbroken single “Give Your Heart a Break.”
The tune and the VMA-nominated video — she’s up for Best Video With A Message — follow Lovato as she convinces her crush he shouldn’t be scared to fall for her. If you ask us, it shouldn’t take that much convincing. Before she performs on Thursday, MTV News got the inside scoop on the song from one of its songwriters, Billy Steinberg.
Steinberg, along with Josh Alexander, met up with Lovato after they had already written the track, without any particular singer attached to it. Once a record exec at Hollywood Records heard their demo, he knew Lovato was the perfect singer for it.
“She sang it really well and that’s how it came about,” Steinberg said of the recording session for the track. “We were thrilled that she sang it really well. Sometimes it’s a roll of the dice, you know?
“My partner Josh Alexander … knew her voice a little better than I did, and he felt that she’d do a good job on it,” he further explained. “I didn’t know as much about her.”
Once they did meet up, what the trio created was pop gold. “You know, there’s nothing better for a songwriter than writing a good song and having the right singer sing it,” he said.
“I’ll give you another example from my career where I really felt that I got very lucky: when Cyndi Lauper recorded ’True Colors.’ And, you know, ’True Colors’ was a ballad and a lot of different people could have sung it, but Cyndi gave it something special, and I’d say the same is true of ’Give Your Heart a Break,’ ” Steinberg explained. “Whether it was luck or divine guidance or whatever you want to call it, I think the song got in the right hands.”
The song is having a moment long after it was originally released. Not only will Lovato belt it out on the VMA pre-show stage Thursday, but it is currently #1 on the Pop Songs chart on Billboard. It’s been a long haul to get to this point for the song after it was released to radio last December. And Steinberg might know why it took long for pop-music lovers to fall for the track.
“You know, I just think it took a long time for numerous reasons. I think one, it’s not a trendy dance track. It’s kind of almost an old-school song with a verse and a chorus and a bridge. It’s kind of an old-fashioned song. … [And] Demi’s not like Rihanna or somebody who radio programmers see she has a new single and they all add it instantaneously.
“I think for the most part she was fairly unproven at radio and the song wasn’t real trendy … so I think all those things made it take some time,” he continued. “But she does have a devoted following and the fanbase she does have really pushed the song and Hollywood Records did a great job to promote the song. And the fact that it was a great song that was really sung well, it just built up steam. It took time, but it happened.”
With only a little bit of time before she performs the song on the VMA pre-show stage, Steinberg was asked whether he has any advice for the singer. “I don’t really have any advice for her. I think she’s a very capable singer and a very capable performer and sing it from her heart, she does that,” he said. “I think [her voice] has two qualities. It’s a strong voice and an emotional voice. I think one of the nice things about her voice is it’s both … and that’s a wonderful quality.”