Kelly Clarkson – Stronger

October 24, 2011 at 8:35 PM | Posted in Kelly Clarkson | 1 Comment

ALBUM REVIEW
Kelly Clarkson – Stronger

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

♦ ♦ ♦

Stronger is the fifth studio album by American singer-songwriter Kelly Clarkson, released on October 21, 2011 through RCA Records. Because the release date had been pushed back many times, the album was highly anticipated and was released to positive reviews.

With Mr. Know It All I already notice a little change in Kelly Clarkson’s musical style, it’s almost like a OneRepublic song with a nice bouncy percussion rhythm and sweeping melodies by an acoustic guitar and piano. Kelly’s vocals are very prominant and strong, quite raw too, but these vocal techniques she’s exposing here seem to really appeal to me. This is such a breath of fresh air after (e.g.) My December (2007).

I love it that she named her album and this song after my life motto, and What Doesn’t Kill You (Stronger) is on the right way to become MY song. This really blows Breakaway (2004) away, Kelly totally nailed this song. It’s unique because she seemed to combine the sound of a drum machine to her usual rock sound, with a little sythesizer effect too. The chorus is explosive and solid, and quite addictive as well. Her best title track ever, oh my.

How ironic it may seem, music box sounds open Dark Side. But when you listen closely to the lyrics, it’s not a dark song at all. In contrary to My December, this album seems to be about topics a lot less depressing. ‘Everybody has a dark side, can you love mine?’ Again, Kelly sings to a strong arrangement of a drum machine, strings and electric guitars, and I love the way her vocals sound in the chorus and the overall last portion of the song. A lot like her live performances, which can be quite good. Cute song, I love the music box, it’s so sweet.

Honestly starts off quite simple, which made me expect a ballad, but as the song develops it becomes just as strong as the previous songs. Very heartfelt and with a certain feel to the melody that instantly makes me love this as well. This song also features her best vocals yet, she totally belts out her lyrics and she does it perfectly. She really gives me goosebumps with that.

At first, in the verses of You Love Me, Kelly sung in such a way I didn’t recognize her vocals. She sung a bit like a soprano, but in the chorus she goes right back to her usual timbre to belt out her lyrics again. This song is upbeat again, but contrary to the title not uplifting at all (‘You just made me cry while claiming that you love‘). Well, if the guy doesn’t get the message now… She totally rocked this song and she did a good job on the high notes and writing the lyrics.

I was very curious about Einstein, and it was worth the wait. It’s a short song but sweet, and I love the lyrics when she sings ‘Dumb plus dumb equals you‘. In your face, moron! I can’t wait to hear this song live, even though it already seems live because of the instrumentation. This song was actually a little short to my taste, which means I totally love it.

Standing In Front Of You seems to be the first more laid-back kind of song, with beautiful harmonized vocals by Kelly. All the previous songs were pretty dominant, so this has to be the first track that can be labeled ‘beautiful’. She also toned down her vocals a bit, so it only makes this song sweeter and sweeter. It’s a midtempo song, not really a ballad, but definitely a song to relax to.

I Forgive You is a real post-relationship rocker, and her vocals really made this track. To be really honest, she sings about what I feel at some times and that attracts me to this song a little more than it could’ve done otherwise. It’s not really that special when you compare it to the rest of the album, but because of her vocals and the message I appreciate the song well and I can’t imagine the album without it.

Another song that sounds happier than it is (along with You Love Me) is Hello. The guitar chords don’t sound depressing at all, but Kelly does sing ‘Won’t somebody show me that I’m not alone?‘. The best thing about this song is the instrumentation: synth riffs mixed with a nice beat and electric guitars.

The War Is Over is another vocal highlight, and the beautiful lyrics were also quickly noticeable. When I compare this song to her latest albums and the rock songs they had, I would prefer this one over any of those songs anytime. This one kicks as, both vocally and lyrically, and that’s why I love it. There’s no one else who can tell this story the way Kelly does it.

Let Me Down is such a step away from her usual stuff, with a lot of synth riffs in the verses that almost sound like subwoofer effects, spooky sounding piano chords all over the place and a strong percussion. I loved the chorus most of all because it literally rocks, and in the bridge this song features Kelly’s best acapella belting. In the last chorus she almost shouts out her lyrics, but she can handle it pretty well. Considering the lyrics, it’s the most cynical song on the album.

Kelly is finally striking back to the paparazzi stories, claiming you can’t always make everyone happy in You Can’t Win. I love the lyrics she sings in this song too: ‘If you’re skinny, poor little walking disease. If you’re not, they’re all screaming obese. If you’re straight, why aren’t you married yet? If you’re gay, why aren’t you waving a flag?‘. It’s all so true, damn. Well, that must kick the ass of a lot of hypocrits out there. The electric guitar riffs gave me goosebumps right before she kicks in the bridge.

Breaking Your Own Heart is the closest we’ll get to an actual power ballad à la Breakaway (the album). The song has a nice arrangement of slow percussion, beautiful electric guitar parts and even some acoustic elements at some points. I always love it when Kelly harmonizes, and she does it again in the chorus. Musically, this is the prettiest song on the album, I le that guitar solo ❤

So basically, I am soooo glad that Kelly Clarkson released this album. It’s absolutely what I needed. My December (2007) was very depressing, I only listened to it when I was sad or something so it’s not really a lasting album if you ask me. All I Ever Wanted (2009) must have never really appealed to me either because I only listened to it once. But this album is the perfect ass-saver for both of them. I can really recommend this album to everyone who wants to listen to some nice rock songs and who are going through a breakup (even though I’m not going through one myself anymore but I definitely know how it feels. Like this.). Kelly gave me exactly what I needed, and I ain’t goin’ back no more^^

Favorite tracks: Mr. Know It All | What Doesn’t Kill You (Stronger) | Honestly | Einstein | Standing In Front Of You | The War Is Over | Let Me Down

OVERALL RATING

5 stars

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1 Comment »

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  1. Love the review. I’m not sure where it stands among her other releases for me right now but I can see it surpassing All I Ever Wanted. It can’t touch My December, that’s a masterpiece, but it’s very close to it.


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