Kelly Clarkson has always been the exception to the rule when it comes to reality shows. After having won the first season of American Idol, she has gone on to develop a career spanning a decade and counting. Her fifth studio effort, 'Stronger' is the perfect fusion of her previous efforts and manages to cater to all tastes without ever feeling contrived and over-thought. While its predecessor, 'All I Ever Wanted', was at times a little too bubblegum pop, this album fuses radio-friendly hooks with some of the darker themes and sounds of her 'Breakaway' and 'My December' albums. Delivering each track with as stellar vocals as ever, 'Stronger' is without a doubt my favourite album of the past year.
The first track on the album, 'Mr Know It All' is a curious change of pace to Kelly's previous singles. The breezy drum machines and layers of acoustic guitar provide the backdrop to one of Kelly's rawest vocal performances to-date - while surprisingly restrained in her delivery, the production manages to capture her live sound perfectly in a studio-setting. The empowering mid-tempo is a rejection to anyone - perhaps a lover - who mistreats you and attempts to slowly eb away at your self-esteem. "Boy, you think that you know me/That's why I'm leaving you lonely/'Cause baby you don't know a thing about me" Kelly sings on the chorus of a track, which grows on the listener with every listen.
The album also fulfils Kelly's quota of pop-rock anthems, which have become somewhat of her forte. The title track, 'Stronger', is one of her best singles to-date. The song has dance-influences in the production, but never is too alienated from Kelly's sound. "You know the bed feels warmer, sleeping here alone", Kelly murmurs on the opening of the track, delivering the instantly captivating lyrics with heavy emotion. The song delivers one of the most anthemic, sing-along choruses of her career - making a clever play-on-words with Nietzsche's famous dictum of "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger". Painfully addictive, this song is amazing to work-out to and is one of the feel-good tracks of the year. Absolutely flawless. 'Dark Side' is yet another impeccably produced pop anthem, with a little edge. The production on the verses sounds like the tinkling of a child's music box, and the sugar sweetness of the production creates an eerie contrast with the sinister lyrics. "Everybody's got a dark side, can you love me? Can you love mine?" pleads Kelly on the incredible chorus. By track three, it is clear that Kelly has the perfect balance between lyric and melody on this album.
The high-octane up-tempos keep on coming, with the Darkchild-produced 'I Forgive You'. The track is a little repetitive and formulaic in terms of production, but the pop-rock number is a little different, as the repetitive theme of the lyrics is unusual for an artist who usually spends most of her time kissing-off men angrily in her songs. 'You Love Me', provides the listener with grittier vocals and a soaring chorus, as Kelly belts "you didn't let me down, you didn't tear me apart/You just opened my eyes, while breaking my heart". The lyrics, again, are the main draw of the song - the embittered lover role has been played many times before in Kelly's songs, but on this album, as a song-writer, she appears to be pushing the boundaries and providing curious twists on the topic.
One of the album's biggest stand-outs comes in the form of 'Let Me Down'. The rich, percussive production creates such a dark and sinister tone, as Kelly delivers probably her best vocal performance on the album. The song evokes her earlier hit 'Behind these Hazel Eyes', in both content and quality. "You're only gonna let me down, when it counts you'll count down" she belts, among the frantic, almost demented synths which accompany the verses. This is crying out to be a single, and would be a guaranteed hit.
Kelly doesn't always sing about love, however. Just like Alanis Morissette in her 'Jagged Little Pill' days, there is always a danger of being pigeon-holed as the 'angry woman' of pop music. 'You Can't Win' is one of the rockiest tracks on the album, and Kelly's passion behind the lyrics are clear. At a time when the press were being particularly difficult to her, she came up with this insightful analysis of the hypocritical nature of the media. "If you're thin, call it a walking disease/If you're not, they're all screaming obese" she sings on one of the verses. It's a really clever song, and a nice break, thematically from the rest of the album.
The ballads of the album are a clear strength, as no two tracks sound the same, and all manage to draw from different genres to create a bit of diversity for the listener. 'The War is Over' is a magnificent mid-tempo, with plosive drums and killer vocals. "I won't let you pull me in, because I know you're gonnna win - the war is over" Kelly sings on a song about removing yourself from an unhealthy relationship. The production is so dramatic, the drums sound somehow militaristic, and so fit in well with the imagery of the song. 'Breaking Your Own Heart' falls clearly in the country genre, with the steel guitars and gentle violin accompaniment managing to capture the sound of Nashville without over-facing the listener. It has such a gorgeous melody and message; it really took me by surprise, and became one to listen to over and over again.
The UK edition of the album and the Deluxe edition of the album feature four bonus tracks, bringing the tally to 17. Normally, I am sceptical of long-running times, as it increases the probability of the presence of filler. Thankfully, 'Stronger' is all killer and no filler. The bonus tracks are diverse yet all incredibly appealing. 'Don't Be a Girl About It' has to be one of my favourites on the entire album, never mind the bonus tracks. The addictive chorus, the song is a hilarious play on gender roles in a relationship, with Kelly growing weary of an over-emotional boyfriend. "I'm losing interest in your pillow talk, you're crossing lines that I just can't let go of" she laments, before scolding again and again in the chorus: "DON'T BE A GIRL ABOUT IT!". The bonus tracks also feature Kelly's duet with country singer, Jason Aldean. 'Don't You Wanna Stay' may not appeal to people who are adverse to the genre, but this double-platinum hit, sounds really good to these ears. Their voices blend superbly, and the chorus is great. The album also closes with a duet with former American Idol judge, Kara DioGuardi. The lyrics are a little schmaltzy at times in 'The Sun Will Rise', an inspirational, pop-rock ballad, but the guitar-heavy production and soaring vocals more than mask this flaw. It's such an uplifting, sing-along track, it's the perfect way to end the CD.
Without a doubt, this is Kelly's best album to-date. There are no skippable tracks, and given that there are 17 of them, it's a pretty impressive feat to accomplish. Soaring vocals, creative lyrics and the perfect equilibrium of genres - pop, rock, dance, country, adult-contemporary - are all found here. Without a doubt, it was my favourite album of 2011, and is yet to be rivalled by anything released in 2012. If you've liked Kelly's previous work, or are a fan of the pop-rock genre, then this album is essential to buy. You will not be disappointed.
HIGHLIGHTS: Stronger, Dark Side, The War is Over, Let Me Down, You Love Me, Don't Be a Girl About It
I have always loved Kelly Clarkson's Albums since she won American Idol in 2002, and I have always purchased/downloaded the albums when they are released. I love her strong voice and her empowered songs that always seem to strike a note with how I am feeling. When "Mr Know It All" was released I knew the album was going to be good and when the Album came out on October 21st 2011 I headed straight to iTunes. Stronger is her fifth studio album and named after her second single from it "What Doesn't Kill You (Stronger)".
As I bought the album off Itunes I obviously don't have a case of booklet but I will tell you what I can. The album has an image of Kelly Clarkson on it in Black and White. She has a chain around her hand which is colured gold. At the top it states Kelly Clarkson in Gold and Stronger in Silver underneath.
The album is available in CD format from Amazon, Play.com, HMV etce from £7.99 - £9.99. On Itunes it was £8.99 when first released. For the 17 tracks this is great for the money which when based on the £8.99 price works out at just £0.53 per track.
The album has 17 tracks on the deluxe edition and Kelly has been involved with writing around 50% of them
Mr. Know It All
What Doesn't Kill You (Stronger)
You Love Me
Standing in Front of You
I Forgive You
The War Is Over
Let Me Down
You Can't Win
Breaking Your Own Heart
Don't you Wanna Stay
Don't be a Girl About It
The Sun Will Rise
My favourite tracks include "What Doesn't Kill You" - an upbeat mid tempo, inspiring song to show you can come back from whatever is thrown at you; Dark Side, a fairytale intro to another mid tempo song which asks you to love everyone's dark side; "Breaking your own heart", a slow Ballard that really pulls you in.
The album is full of a great variety of songs from upbeat mid tempo tunes like Don't be a Girl About It" to slow ballads with moving lyrics such as "Honestly".
I love the album with only a couple of songs I can't take to which are "Don't be a Girl About It" and "You Can't Win and find the lyrics on "Einstein" very weak compared to the other songs
Everything else is pure Kelly Clarkson class with strong inspiring lyrics and great music to suit every mood. I have found this album equal to Breakaway in its quality!
I was excitedly awaiting the release of Kelly Clarkson's new album Stronger for some time, as she is one of my favourite artists. Kelly started off as the first winner of American Idol, but unlike most winners of these TV singing competitions, she has (deservedly) enjoyed great success and it's easy to forget her origins.
Kelly's first album Thankful was a light pop affair with a hint of country, a largely forgettable album in which she is clearly following orders from her bosses in the music business. Her second CD Breakaway, however, was full of pop-rock classics and met with massive success. Kelly took over more control and much of the songwriting on her third album My December, which is much darker and more rock-orientated than anything else she has produced before or since. My December is my personal favourite of Kelly's albums, but the general public and many critics didn't agree, and the CD didn't sell well at all compared to its predecessors. With her fourth album All I Ever Wanted, Kelly moved back into more mainstream pop-rock with a hint of dance in what was a much more commercially successful record.
Stronger picks up where All I Ever Wanted left off, full of pop-rock songs with shouty choruses that showcase Kelly's fabulous voice, which mostly contain dance beats and high production values. The album as a whole would be ideal to listen to while getting ready to go out, and several songs would sound perfect blaring out of the loudspeakers in a club. Despite the numerous shouty singalong choruses, Kelly's voice never grates, unlike that of other good singers such as Christina Aguilera whose voice can get tiresome if listened to for too long a period of time. Kelly's voice is very powerful but has a natural, expressive quality to it, and it sounds equally good belting out a chorus or softly singing a more low-key song. On Stronger, the vocals are richer and warmer: a direct result of a decision made by Kelly and her record company to use minimal autotune and emphasise the 'live' quality of her voice. It's a testament to Kelly's talent that she sounds better than ever. I would love to see her perform live.
The overall tone of the album is fairly optimistic, as befits the record's title. Kelly often sings about broken relationships but the attitude here is mostly "Good riddance", rather than "I'm devastated". This is apparent on tracks like Einstein, in which she sings about a "dumb" ex, and You Love Me, about a destructive relationship ("You just made me cry while claiming that you love me"). This latter song has a bit of an Eighties pop vibe which adds variety to the album, while the former has a modern pop vibe, and sounds like something Rihanna might sing. Forthcoming single What Doesn't Kill You (Stronger) is a highlight of the album, with a memorable chorus, a strong dance beat, and a positive attitude.
The heavy dance beats and backing tracks mean that Kelly's vocals sometimes sound emotionally remote and removed from the listener. Given the richer, more textured vocals on this album, I feel that this is a bit of a shame, though it does suit the uptempo optimistic nature of the album as a whole. In fact this effect really works on Honestly, one of my favourite tracks, in which Kelly begs for the truth to be told to her even if it is not good news. Her voice sounds wistful and remote, emphasising how alone she feels.
First single Mr. Know It All was an unusual choice, being a midtempo song that in my opinion doesn't immediately grab the listener. Being a Kelly fan, however, I persevered and it really grew on me. It is lighthearted in tone and full of attitude, as Kelly criticises an ex for thinking he knows more about her than she does.
Let Me Down is another highlight of the album, once again mainly because of the catchy chorus. The chorus is more 'rock' than the majority of the album with heavy drums and a memorable melody - I'd love to hear this one live. The War is Over starts off in a more melancholy way than the rest of the album; it's quieter, with subdued guitars, before building up to a memorable chorus.
Judging by the lyrics, Dark Side sounds like something that could belong to My December. "Everybody's got a dark side, do you love me, can you love mine?" sings Kelly, on a track whose dance beat doesn't quite fit the mood of the song and which isn't particularly memorable or catchy. I don't dislike it, and it's grown on me since my first listen, but it's not a favourite. I Forgive You also echoes past Kelly: the intro distinctly recalls Since U Been Gone from her Breakaway album. Another uptempo track with a shouty chorus, it's a catchy effort.
Not all the songs on the album are love songs. In Hello, Kelly sings about feeling alone ("hello; is anybody listening?"), though the bouncy melody counteracts the plaintive lyrics. In You Can't Win she attacks those you can't seem to please no matter what you do: "If you're down, so ungrateful, and if you're happy, why so selfish?"
The album is overwhelmingly focused on uptempo pop-rock, and there are only two ballads. Standing In Front of You is, quite frankly, a bit rubbish. It's dull, overly sentimental and a song that I regularly skip. Breaking Your Own Heart is, on the other hand, wonderful: interesting, emotional and moving, it is about someone who is scared to get close to anyone. "You're breaking your own heart, taking it too far, down a lonely road". It's become a favourite of mine among all of Kelly's songs.
The 'special edition' of the album contains four extra tracks, though in the UK at least, the special edition seems to be the only one available. This isn't a problem though as the tracks are worth getting. First comes a duet with US country star Jason Aldean, Don't You Wanna Stay. The song is good, and thankfully Kelly resists the temptation to put on a country twang, but I'm not keen on Jason Aldean's voice. It's not bad exactly, but it's not to my taste. Alone is an uptempo dance-pop track similar to the rest of the album, albeit with a retro 80s feel. Don't Be a Girl About It irritates me a bit as it sounds a bit sexist, however it is good fun. Closing track The Sun Will Rise features US singer/songwriter Kara DioGuardi. Unlike most of the other tracks on the album, it doesn't feature a dance beat; rather, it is a more stripped-down rocky song with guitars and heavy drums. It's a memorable, positive song that ends the album on a high note.
This album took some time to grow on me, but it certainly has done. This is reflected in the fact that I was originally going to give it three stars, then four, then realised while reading over this review that I couldn't justify less than five. It's a confident album by a confident singer who knows what she wants, reflected in the album's title and the attitude of most of the tracks. I admit I would like to hear more of the pop-rock of her earlier material, and hope she doesn't go down the country route too much. My personal favourite of her albums is My December and I would love it if she made more music like this. However, this is unlikely as it just wasn't commercially viable. Stronger is not a perfect album and it has its flaws, but it comes highly recommended by me.
1. Mr. Know It All
2. What Doesn't Kill You (Stronger)
3. Dark Side
5. You Love Me
7. Standing in Front of You
8. I Forgive You
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
16. Don't Be A Girl About It
17. The Sun Will Rise
After internet leaks and a delayed launch, it's Kelly's long awaited new album! And there is barely a non-single track among them.
By now we've all heard the first single "Mr Know it all" which, in typical Kelly style, admonishes a guy for thinking he knows her when he actually has no clue. (We've all known guys like this, right? I had one tell me that I didn't like children. When I had been running an afterschool club and was planning a month working in an African orphanage.) While the lyrics are Kelly personified, the melody and musical stylings are strongly reminiscent of the Bruno Mars hit "Just the way you are" (a fact which hasn't escaped the critics' notice).
While the song would appear to be aimed at an individual, the video twists this into an attack on the media, with Kelly singing in front of a wall of headlines - which apparently are genuine newspaper articles.
This blow at the media continues in "You can't win" as Kelly lampoons pretty much every criticism ever levelled at her - and everyone else in the public eye."If you're thin, poor little walking disease; if you're not, they're all screaming obese," and "If you're down; so ungrateful, and if you're happy, why so selfish?"
The second track on the listing carries the oft-repeated message that "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger." Now we're back in familiar Clarkson territory - a pounding beat, singalong chorus, and "Let's get on that treadmill and work out our aggression against the boy who dumped us," feeling. Kelly has hinted that this will be the second single, which both pleases and disappoints me. It's a cool, catchy pop record which has a positive message and will surely get lots of airplay. However, haven't we had an awful lot of those songs from Kelly? Wise as it is to stick to the formula that works, it would be nice if the non-album-buying public could hear some of her more thoughtful and multilayered songs.
One of which is Dark side - it has a pseudo-spooky beginning like a child's music box, and a downbeat vibe. The lyrics plead that everyone has a dark side, "Can you love mine?" It's Kelly being all heart rending at her best, and her voice soars effortlessly over the wide vocal range - she truly makes it sound easy.
This theme continues with Honestly, which has beautiful, gentle opening bars and rises into
a somewhat melancholy anthem; "Make me listen to the truth even if it breaks me..... You can judge me, love me, if you're hating me, do it honestly..." Kelly apparently expects bad news, but is determined to know anyway, as she crashes into a desperate-sounding wave of "You can tell me... you can tell me....you can tell me...." (Say what you like about Kelly, but it's nice to find a "pop" singer who isn't afraid to be a bit angsty and raw emotionally.)
Kelly's songwriters drop the ball somewhat on Einstein. It has a promising start, with a cute first verse:
Our love divided by the square root of pride
Multiply your lies plus time
I'm going out of my mind
It was heavy when I finally figured it out alone
You'd be forgiven for thinking "Ah, how clever. A cute, playground style song with in-jokes about Einstein!" But it's almost as if the writer exhausted his / her brain power, turned to the nearest eight year old, and said "Hey, I'm tired. You write the chorus." Seriously? Dumb plus dumb equals you? That doesn't even make sense! OK, so it might be fun for little girl to sing, but for such a quirky idea, this song really falls short of its potential. Luckily it is saved by Kelly's vocals which are dynamic as always.
(It's also worth noting that Directlyrics.com, despite claiming "guaranteed" accurate lyrics, have misheard this song with bizarre results. "I may not be unstopped"? You're not exactly Einstein yourself, are you?)
"Standing in front of you" is a song about taking the risk of throwing yourself into love rather than staying alone out of fear. Kelly turns it into an etheral, filmic sounding epic which will no doubt make it onto a rom com soundtrack at some point.
"I forgive you", a bouncy song about the pointlessness of holding the past against someone ("If I hate you, what does that do?") is a little monotonous but is saved by a catchy, 80s sounding chorus. I have been trying to work out what it reminds me of and have finally settled on the classic, "Kids in America" by Kim Wilde. The retro disco feel continues on "You love me" which has an electropop sound that brings La Roux to mind. (Which is logical when you consider that they are influenced by Eurythmics, and Kelly has declared herself a big fan of Annie Lennox. Don't be fooled by the optimistic title - this is another song about poor Kelly being let down by someone who only claims to love her.
KC has said herself that sonically this is her best album and that it sounds closer to the way she does when singing live. I can attest to this - the vocals sound so rich and textured on this album that after listening to it for a while and then switching to a previous album of hers, her previous (excellent) vocals sounded almost tinny in comparison.
She even sounds a little bit throaty and sexy on "Hello", a song which lacks the huge sweeping chorus of some of her other hits but has a nice line in handclaps and a twangy bassline.
Likewise Kelly turns in a rather sultry performance on "Let me down", yet another song about a man failing her. With lyrics such as "I think I might be a fortune teller, I read your face just like a letter..." she is soon screeching the chorus as only she can.
Kelly's vocals are never stronger than on "The war is over," a haunting track on which she harmonises with herself, the somewhat low key verses rising to an empowering finale.
Crossing genre boundaries as always, the powerful yet silky vocals on "Breaking your own heart" are as close to country as Kelly gets on the main album. (Please Kelly, release that blues and country album you keep promising us! Forget the teenyboppers who love your pop rock! Your grown up fans demand Patsy Cline and Black Keys covers!)
If you've bought the plain old regular album, this is your lot. However, I recommend that you invest in the deluxe version for some extra treats....
In the US, country music is big business (although we Brits don't really have a fanbase for songs about trucks, catfish, and mama, unfortunately. ) On "Don't you wanna stay," Kelly teams up with Jason Aldean. (Who? I hear you ask. Well, he has four albums and plenty of CMA trophies to his name, so if you like a bit of twang in your guitar, Spotify him up right now!)
Unfortunately if you're a cynical Brit, this song may be just a touch too glurgy for you. But if you are a secret fan of Magic.fm, you will find plenty to admire in the wistful, minor-key tune and incredible vocals in this shamelessly romantic song.
"Alone" is another pop-rocky showcase for Kelly's throaty vocals and for once, a song with a happy ending!
The feminist in me rankles at the word "girl" being used pejoratively, but the track "Don't be a girl about it" also made me chuckle to myself. Featuring lines such as "I chose the high road and you chose... to be a girl," it's tongue in cheek enough to get away with it. I actually wish this was on the main album and thus eligible to be released as a single, because it has a ridiculously catchy chorus and is generally a fun, bodacious track.
"The sun will rise" features Kara DioGuardi, who is a songwriter, singer, ex-judge on American Idol, and record producer. Despite her impressive credentials, I find that her voice detracts from the song rather than improving it - she is just a touch whiny, especially teamed with Miss Clarkson's clear-as-a-bell efforts. However, it's nice to end the album on a rare cheerful note (especially if you have been listening to the album in a post break up haze of tears).
All in all, it's probably KC's best album yet. However, it's a travesty that some of her best work doesn't make the cut. Check out youtube for "Why don't you try," an Aretha-esque bluesy number which ONLY appears on the US version of the itunes album. (Which sucks for those of us who have already bought the CD.) However, I comfort myself with the knowledge that Kelly is one of those artists who is actually better live than she is when she is overproduced, so the youtube versions are actually superior to the album track. Go figure.
I leave you with proof that Kelly must not be allowed to do covers of popular artist's work, because it's just embarrassing for everyone when her version is the best by about a million miles.
I first took notice of Kelly Clarkson back in 2005, at the time of her 'Since You've Been Gone' and 'Because of You' days. I was a huge fan and thought that she was brilliant. However, since then, she seems to have gone a bit 'downhill' and none of her songs and albums have lived up to those days. So when I heard that Kelly was back with a brand new album after being away from the music scene for a couple of years, I couldn't wait to hear it.
Stronger is the fifth album from American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson. It was released in the United Kingdom in October 2011 and so it is very recent. The album is currently selling from Amazon for a price of £8.99 which I think is great value for money.
~ * Track List * ~
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 15) Alone 16) Don't Be A Girl About It 17) The Sun Will Rise
~ * What Are The Songs Like? * ~
Mr Know It All - This was the debut single from the album. It has the typical 'Kelly Clarkson' sound. This song reminds me of her 'Since You've Been Gone' days. It is very catchy; the kind of song which stays in your head for days after hearing it. It also has the same kind of 'I don't care' attitude that she usually portrays in her songs.
Honestly - This song is very emotional; she really puts all of her emotion into this song. I believe every word she sings.
Let Me Down - This is very different to Kelly Clarkson's other songs. If I had heard this song, I wouldn't have guessed who it was.
Breaking Your Own Hard - A very emotional ballad. One of my favourite songs on the album. It really suits Kelly's voice.
~ * Voice * ~
If you have heard any of Kelly's songs then you will know what an amazing vocalist she is. It's no wonder she won American Idol. On this album, she shows off her powerful vocals. She has a huge range - it amazes me how she can hit those high notes with such power. As a singer myself, I think that her songs are some of the hardest to sing (for me anyway), however, she really pulls it off! Well done Kelly!
~ * Lyrics * ~
There are some really interesting lyrics in the songs on this album. Such lyrics include:
Mr. Know It All
Well ya think you know it all
But ya don't know a thing at all
Ain't it, ain't it something y'all
When somebody tells you something 'bout you
Think that they know you more than you do
So as you can see, the lyrics are very thought provoking. I like the lyrics that rhyme. They are really catchy.
~ * What Do I Think? * ~
I think that Kelly has a really unique style of music. This album focuses on the pop-rock and dance-pop, which is quite similar to the music in the charts, however there is still something 'different' about these songs. I can also identify a Kelly Clarkson song just by listening to it. She has her own sound which is good.
I like Kelly's attitude; it's all about strong women and not let men walk over you. It sends out a great message to the fans; to be strong and independent.
This is a good album, but I don't think Kelly will be able to 'top' her album ' Breakaway'. I would say that this is her best album since Breakaway. I would recommend this album!
Thanks for reading!
Xdonzx / xd-o-n-z-x
'Stronger' is Kelly's fifth studio album. Her last record 'All I Ever Wanted' generated the smash hit 'My Life would suck without you' which broke Billboard history by being the single with the biggest leap to #1 from #97. Could this album top that?
The album cover is a large black and white close up of Kelly with a gold filter which I personally don't like. The gold chain looks really out of place and this looks more like an R n B cover which doesn't positively reflect her music. She looks great in the photo but the composition is a bit strange.
There are 17 songs on the deluxe version:
1. Mr. Know It All 4/5
Lead single from 'Stronger', 'Mr Know It All' is a catchy song which many have drawn resemblance to Pink's husky voice and Bruno Mar's 'Just the way you are'. I like the angsty attitude she presents here and hopefully carries through to the rest of the album.
2. What Doesn't Kill You (Stronger) 5/5
One of the best songs off the album and perhaps has the most direct link to the title, 'What Doesn't Kill You' is an infectious song that you will sing along to or shout along to in an explosive chorus you just can't get out of your head. Definitely single worthy- and potentially a smash hit.
3. Dark Side 4/5
A slightly mellow song to begin with transforms into yet another strong chorus which is addictive, but slightly eclipsed by the impact of the previous track. This song is however more emotional and you can sense it.
4. Honestly 3.5/5
The first 'soft' song on the album so far, 'Honestly' develops into an upbeat and heartfelt track. It's not my favourite and it is a tad shouty towards the middle but there are still things to like about it.
5. You Love Me 4/5
This song doesn't grab you as quickly as the other tracks though I'm sure it will grow on me after a few more listens. There is a great hook here but this doesn't carry through to the whole song and it falls short of being spectacular.
6. Einstein 5/5
Previously dubbed 'Dumb+Dumb=You', 'Einstein' is much more appropriately titled and is a sassy track that despite it's slightly childish lyrics, makes a great Clarkson hit.
7. Standing In Front Of You 4/5
'Standing In Front of You' is a nice ballad but does not compare to her smash hit 'Because of You'. It is a beautiful song, with some great lyrics but is a tad reserved and doesn't quite go to extraterrestrial limits.
8. I Forgive You 4.5/5
The background dub-step/synth is really annoying in the verses (and all you listen during the verses), but the chorus is stunning- love the catchiness and addictiveness which does save it, but it would've been a 5 without that heart-wrenching production.
9. Hello 4/5
'Hello is a song that is strong and holds its own on the album but doesn't stand out like 'Einstein' or 'What Doesn't Kill You'. Personally, this may fade into the background amongst the other outstanding tracks and become forgotten.
10. The War Is Over 4/5
From the title of the song, I was expecting a lot out of this track. There could be so many emotions and feelings expressed through this song. Though it is lyrically spot on, musically it feels like it is in limbo- halfway between a catchy belter and a ballad. I wish it had gone in either direction to elevate this to that higher level. Still, it is a strong track and there's enough here to love.
11. Let Me Down 5/5
From the moment I heard this track, I fell in love it. It is soo different to other Kelly Clarkson tracks that it stands out. There is something dark about this song which makes me think of 'My December' but it is also very addictive and this is perhaps my favourite track on the album.
12. You Can't Win 3.5/5
Drowned within a plethora of other tracks, 'You can't Win' falls into the same category as 'Hello'. It doesn't have enough to stand out but isn't lacking enough to be criticised.
13. Breaking Your Own Heart 4.5/5
Despite a slight aged sound, 'Breaking Your Own Heart' is a very beautiful ballad and the best one on the album. Heartfelt and meaningful, this is a lovely end to the standard edition of 'Stronger'.
14. Don't You Wanna Stay (w/ Jason Aldean) 4/5
A tad dated, the track was released on Jason Aldean's album in 2010, so it feels weird listening to it now with Kelly's new stuff, but it's a great duet and I'm surprised Kelly hasn't done more collaborations.
15. Alone 4/5
The blueprints for a smash hit could be found in 'Alone' but it doesn't quite feel developed enough to get there, whether it is production or the sound... but nevertheless a nice addition to the bonus tracks.
16. Don't Be a Girl About It 4/5
Another very upbeat track that would've fit nicely onto the album but I'm glad it's included into the deluxe.
17. The Sun Will Rise 3.5/5
A nice ballad to go into the deluxe mix giving variety. Does not trump 'Breaking Your Own Heart' and rightfully emitted from the standard version.
18. Why Don't You Try 3/5
A softer track with a soulful sound- doesn't grab you instantly but may grow on you eventually. It doesn't take away or add to the album.
SONGS TO LOVE: Dark Side, What Doesn't Kill You, Einstein, Let Me Down
SONGS TO SKIP: None, but some tracks are unmemorable
Kelly Clarkson's 'Stronger' is a super record that develops her sound from her previous album 'All I Ever Wanted'. With inevitable smash hits such as 'What Doesn't Kill You (Stronger)', 'Einstein' and 'Let Me Down', certain tracks that are good ('Hello'/'You Can't Win') are shadowed and unfortunately likely to be unmemorable or fade into the background.
With regards to the deluxe tracks, for the first time, they have been rightfully chosen as extras. Many a time, we find that the deluxe tracks are better than some tracks on the album, but this is not the case. They are a nice addition but in no way rivals any of the tracks on the standard edition.
In closing, Kelly Clarkson has returned with a great new album with a few tracks that will inevitably infect people in due course. There is great commercial potential too and definitely a few #1's in there.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Mr. Know It All
3 Dark Side
5 You Love Me
7 Standing In Front Of You
8 I Forgive You
10 The War Is Over
11 Let Me Down
12 You Canâ??t Win
13 Breaking Your Own Heart
14 Donâ??t You Wanna Stay (with Jason Aldean)
16 Donâ??t Be A Girl About It
17 The Sun Will Rise