HEAR THIS: Kelly Clarkson is "Stronger"

Thanks to you I gotta new thing started
Thanks to you I'm not the broken hearted
Thanks to you I'm finally thinkin' 'bout me...
What doesn't kill you makes you stronger
Stand a little taller
Doesn't mean I'm lonely
When I'm alone

-"What Doesn't Kill You (Stronger)", Kelly Clarkson

'American Idol' has churned out its share of legitimate popstars. The majority of them have seen mid-level or less success -- certainly not at the level the most likely deserve (see Jordin Sparks, Blake Lewis, Chris Richardson, Adam Lambert, etc. etc.) Only two have gone on to really hit their stride post-"Idol", those being country superstar Carrie Underwood and reluctant popstar Kelly Clarkson.

As we await Kelly's fifth album release, Stronger, at the end of this month, it is the first release in what feels like eons, essentially since the collossal Breakaway, where Kelly feels like Kelly but is still commercially viable. While her third album, My December, was dogged for its darker feel (not to mention her very vocal arguments with RCA and Clive Davis, someone you  just don't eff with in this business), her fourth release, 2009's All I Ever Wanted was the biggest insult to me overall. From the clearly Photoshopped cover to the peppy but petulant single releases, there are days when I want to forget that album ever happened entirely. Then of course, there was the whole Ryan Tedder debate which was incredibly overblown and taken out of porportion. Kelly is immensely talented, vocally, and I pined for when she would get back to what worked for her during her Breakaway period.

Stronger seems to be exactly that. While lead single "Mr. Know It All" is relatively generic at best, follow up "What Doesn't Kill You (Stronger)", which the album is named for, feels like a modern-day Breakaway outtake. It's the familiar "Since U Been Gone" Kelly that we've all craved minus the whining back story or the internal creative struggles that have been following her as of late. The spotlight is placed back on Clarkson's voice -- where it should definitely be at all times -- complimented by a truly positive lyrical backdrop. There is no more "My Life Would Suck Without You" -- Kelly is back to being her own woman and making no apologies for standing up on her own. And don't we all prefer her that way?


Fun Fact To Add: "What Doesn't Kill You (Stronger)" was co-written by Swedish songwriter Jorgen Elofsson (formerly of the legendary Cheiron Studios), who has also penned Girl's Generation (SNSD)'s recent Japanse bow "Bad Girl"; Super Junior album cut "What If"; one of my fave The Saturdays cuts from Wordshaker, "Lose Control"; various cuts for Darin, Agnes, and Shayne Ward; and Britney Spears's underappreciated, should-have-been-a-single album cut "What U See" from her ...Oops! I Did It Again album.

If that's not my entire musical library shook up into a blender, I don't know what is. Mr. Elofsson, I think I need to stalk you now.

1 comment

Average Music Joe said...

I agree with you mostly. Breakaway is Kelly at her best and her last album was a bit disappointing. Too many forgettable songs. "Mr. Know It All" is good not great, and she seems to be leaning to R&B a little which is fine since she's got the pipes.

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