Kelly Clarkson – Stronger

written by: October 24, 2011
Release Date:


A note to Kelly Clarkson’s perpetual resident leaker: Please keep doing what you do because it seems that we can’t seem to wait a minute more for Clarkson every time.

Clarkson’s bad luck has been a hinderance many times in her career. Her fifth studio album, Stronger, has been no exception to this curse. She auditioned for “American Idol” after her apartment burned down, she constantly falls ill while touring, and finds that most of her records (including the latest) are leaked before their intended release.

Among those leaks was Stronger‘s lead single, “Mr. Know It All.” It’s significant that there was a change in her angle this time around because this lead was weaker than most fire-spitting singles she’s put out in the past. “My Life Would Suck Without You” and “Since U Been Gone” are some of the highlights of Clarkson’s past, which have rocked out and resounded for years. This tune, on the contrary, is much more adult contemporary than any other single in the past. “Mr. Know It All” is surely very Clarkson, but peraps the ex-lover of “Miss Independent.” Its Tina Turner vibe was strange.

As if Clarkson knew we were questioning her taste for cutting-edge music, she whips out magnitude in the title anthem, “What Doesn’t Kill You (Stronger).” This track encompasses the entire idea of Stronger, relating to the difficulties she had to overcome as both a person and a working musician.

This song will ignite a fire in its listeners.

“What Doesn’t Kill You (Stronger)” is an electric dance-pop mix that goes outside Clarkson’s regular area of performance, but it is nothing to complain about.  When it hits airwaves, it’s sure to go global not just because its message is positive and classic, but also because it pumps out pure gold ingeniously.

Soon, “Dark Side” prefaces the rest of the album with a bit more hushed and sultry tone. At this point, listeners should be happy that they were at least warned that the party’s over. Before Stronger reaches halfway through the album, unfortunately, it loses steam.

Before you predict how Clarkson formats the rest of Stronger, allow yourself to be surprised one last time. “You Love Me” is the emotional peak of the album and possibly her career. A Prince-resounding backtrack accents the idea of conditional love while she repeats her ideas as her trials spill onto the most unedited vocal lines and raw lyrical scripts in her history.

Although fans can hear classic Clarkson in there for a few moments where she delivers—later in “Let Me Down” and the clever essential pop track “Einstein”— there’s a certain void of sincerity that previous albums fulfilled. Songs such as “Standing in Front of You” and “Honestly” are boring.

To put it simply, the concept behind Stronger has been done before, so it might’ve been an easy center for the project. The theme eliminates the challenge of acquiring consistency from start to finish. If everything truly makes you stronger, then couldn’t that be an excuse for the album totally sucking if it did?

Don’t splurge on the deluxe version unless it’s via iTunes, where there’s an additional bonus track. Producers should’ve traded Clarkson’s duet with Kara DioGuardi (huh?) for the soulful Eric Hutchinson-penned crooner “Why Don’t You Try” to close the album. Instead, it ends with a flimsy sleeper track.

Doesn’t this woman know better than to produce half-good songs after all this time, given what she’s been through? After all, she’s learned now and she claims to be stronger! So here’s to hoping it’s not just a front.

Kelly Clarkson – Stronger tracklist:

  1. “Mr. Know It All”
  2. “What Doesn’t Kill You (Stronger)”
  3. “Dark Side”
  4. “Honestly”
  5. “You Love Me”
  6. “Einstein”
  7. “Standing in Front of You”
  8. “I Forgive You”
  9. “Hello”
  10. “The War Is Over”
  11. “Let Me Down”
  12. “You Can’t Win”
  13. “Breaking Your Own Heart”
  14. “Don’t You Wanna Stay” (Deluxe edition)
  15. “Alone” (Deluxe edition)
  16. “Don’t Be a Girl About It” (Deluxe edition)
  17. “The Sun Will Rise” (Deluxe edition)
  18. “Why Don’t You Try” (iTunes Store deluxe edition bonus track)