The Meaning Behind Demi Lovato’s “29” Hints At The Wilmer Valderrama Age Gap

“I would be lying if I said I didn't have a ton of anxiety about putting out this song.”

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BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 28:  Actor Wilmer Valderrama and singer Demi Lovato arrives at the 2016...
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Demi Lovato is holding nothing back on her eighth studio album HOLY FVCK, and nobody is safe — especially her exes. One song — “29” — went viral before it was released on Aug. 19, as fans speculated that leaked lyrics might be about Lovato’s ex-boyfriend Wilmer Valderrama and the 12-year age gap between the former couple, who dated for six years from 2010 to 2016.

Lovato fan account @Demi_Artistry posted a TikTok video spelling out the song’s lyrics and using images of the singer and the That ’70s Show star. “Finally 29 / Funny, just like you were at the time,” Lovato wails on the chorus, nodding to Valderrama’s age when he started dating her. “Thought it was a teenage dream, just a fantasy / But was it yours or was it mine?” Lovato ends the chorus by repeating “17, 29,” adding in her age when the relationship began. Lovato only gets more savage on the verse: “Fiber on the vine, too young to drink wine / Far from innocent, what the f*ck's consent? / Numbers told you not to but that didn't stop you.”

In an Apple Music interview during the album’s release week, Lovato chimed in on the conversation. She told Zane Lowe that she wants to be “very careful” while addressing the topic. “I feel like the song says it all,” she said. “I don’t have to say too much, to be honest, but turning 29 was a huge eye opener for me. And then, going into treatment and having realizations led to my transformation, my release of the emotion that was put into this song.”

Lovato also opened up about the daunting process of releasing it: “I would be lying if I said I didn't have a ton of anxiety about putting out this song. I just said, ‘I have to go for this. I have to own my truth,’ Yeah. And I do still walk that line very finely. I’ve learned that sometimes saying less is more. And it’s taken me to 30 years old to maybe learn that, but here I am approaching the way that I express myself differently in front of the media because it’s OK to have boundaries.”

Lovato was in a relationship with Valderrama for nearly six years before they eventually split in 2016. In their 2017 documentary Demi Lovato: Simply Complicated, the star explained how they got together. “[When] I met him and I laid eyes on him for the first time, I was in hair and makeup and he came in and sat down and I was like, ‘I love this man’ and ‘I have to have him,’” she recalled. “But I was only 17, so he was like, ‘Get away from me.’ After I turned 18, we began dating. I think it was love at first sight, and I don’t really believe in that, but I believe that it happened.”

In the Apple News interview, Lovato went on to say she “never loved anybody like I loved Wilmer,” and explained why she eventually broke up. “We connected on a level that I've never connected with anybody before,” Lovato said. “He was just my rock. My everything. It had nothing to do with falling out of love. We decided together that we're probably just better as friends.”

Despite Lovato seemingly calling him out on their new song, the duo have stayed friendly since their breakup. In January 2021, Valderrama acknowledged his ex on Instagram after their animated film Charming premiered on Netflix, thanking Lovato as part of the “incredible cast,” which also included Ashley Tisdale and Avril Lavigne. “Demi and Wilmer are still in touch,” a source told Entertainment Tonight at the time. “They still love each other as friends and will always be supportive of one another.”

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