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Music Review: Kelly Clarkson – Stronger

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Multiplatinum artist Kelly Clarkson unleashed her fifth studio album, Stronger, as a special Monday release on October 24. Known for her incredibly powerful and soulful vocal prowess and her unabashedly honest lyrics, Clarkson is showcased on Stronger at her all-time best.

Stronger cover art - credit: http://rcamusicgrouppress.com“What separates this album are the vocals,” Clarkson says in its press release. “They sound richer and fuller, and, for the first time, how I sound when I’m performing live. The producers I worked with just let me sing and be me. They didn’t strip away the personality.

“And it was one of those things where if the people I’m working with have confidence in me, I have more confidence in myself and that changed everything. I can’t wait to perform these songs on tour. I think that’s the best way to get to know an artist, and where you get to see actual personality, because we can’t hide much onstage.”

Clarkson co-wrote five of the 13 tracks on Stronger, which was produced by heavy hitters Rodney Jerkins, Greg Kurstin, Josh Abraham, and Toby Gad.

With the high energy dance-pop title track, “What Only Kills You (Stronger),” Clarkson belts out an empowerment anthem about not allowing the end of a relationship to be the end of her.

She addresses her critics on “You Can’t Win” and her current single, “Mr. Know It All.” Never one to hold back, Clarkson describes the media scrutiny she’s often faced in her career in “You Can’t Win” with bold lyrics like, “If you’re thin, 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?” The mid-tempo “Mr. Know It All” drives the message home further by pointing out to critics and potential suitors that they don’t know her as well as they may think. The single is currently number seven on Billboard’s Adult Pop Songs chart.

Tracks like “Darkside,” “Honestly,” and “The War is Over” each reveal an especially honest, more vulnerable side to the singer. On “Darkside,” Clarkson talks of being less than perfect, and how she hopes to be loved and accepted by her significant other regardless of how dark things may seem at times. The ballad-esque track “Honestly” showcases Clarkson’s amazing vocal range, from her softer notes to full-on glory, capturing a raw emotion from a singer who comes across as the real deal. “The War is Over” is a snapshot look at a relationship ending. Clarkson depicts a picture in which she realizes that she deserves more from the person she’s dating, and that she shouldn’t allow herself to get sucked back into such an unhealthy situation.

The aforementioned songs are why fans love Kelly Clarkson. She keeps it real and just lays out what’s in her heart for all to hear. Making music that’s relatable with her fanbase is but one of the key reasons she’s been successful for the last decade.

Stronger is a well-balanced mix of pop-rock music, and Clarkson really embraces her genre while still taking risks to make this new material stand out from her previous records. She’s sure to have fans singing along to these new songs in no time.

 

Kelly Clarkson’s fifth album, Stronger, is available now.

For more information on Kelly Clarkson, check out her official website.

Cover art for Stronger courtesy of RCA Music Group.

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About Kirsten Coachman

Kirsten Coachman is an Entertainment Writer from the San Francisco Bay Area. She has interviewed a variety of people from across the entertainment spectrum, including singer-songwriter/Matchbox Twenty frontman Rob Thomas, Andrew Dost from the Grammy Award-winning band fun., singer-songwriter Christina Perri, and acclaimed writer-director Derek Cianfrance.