"Fun" and "cool" are terms that could be used to describe "Hello," another Clarkson cowrite with Abraham, Goldstein, and Bonnie McKee. With a clap-along and guitar-led intro, Clarkson's "Hello" is a light hearted inquiry that is heavy on the soda pop. Bubbling and brimming in under three minutes, "Hello" is reminiscent of All I Ever Wanted, an album that branched into remix sounds, and this track seems to rely solely on the "O" vowel to tell a story. "Ignorance isn't wise, but it beats being alone," Clarkson sings before asking if anybody is listening. We hear you loud and clear!
"The War is Over," penned by Gad and Olivia Waithe, is a resolute kiss-off after a turbulent break up. Sure, Clarkson demonstrates her haunted soul, but she makes it clear that she's the one doing the walking away. "You don't deserve me," she concludes over the bridge. The thing that makes this track interesting is that Clarkson has taken her pain (and previous breakup songs) and churned out a lyrical improvement and more mature take. It goes without saying that her vocals are on point, and she makes sure to choose specific moments to drive forward and pull back.
A jazzy track, "Let Me Down," written by Clarkson and Chris Destefano, is a starlet uptempo of Stronger. With a distinct drum track, anthemic immersion, and fancy hook, Clarkson has hit a sweet spot. As with previous chart-toppers, "Down" is a mix of commercial appeal and artistic growth to warrant a single release. "You're only gonna let me down. When it counts, you'll count down," Clarkson echoes over a head-bobbing beat. There is enough juice to this track that allows her vocals to soar in ways that have made her famous to begin with.
Taking another brick to the media's glass house, "You Can't Win," written with Abraham, Goldstein, and Felix Bloxsom, is Clarkson's vengeful and flavorful defense. Instead of playing coy, like "Mr. Know It All," "Win" is spicy and ruthless in its message. A bombastic chorus and backing track gives control back to Clarkson, who certainly has clawed her way through plenty of weight gains and losses and media glares. "Win," particularly rough around the edges lyrically, is simply a similar shade of previously treaded material. However, like never before, the "Walk Away" chanteuse takes charge without any regrets.
Going from sixty to zero, Clarkson delicately pulls the reigns in on "Breaking Your Own Heart," written by Jennifer Hanson and Michael Logen. A fearful ode, "Heart," swells and bends Stronger into a lovely surprise. "Too many tears, too many falls. It's easier here behind these walls," Clarkson testifies. What [he] is most afraid of is breaking hearts, but, in fact, he forgets to protect his own heart. A man that is a self-fulfilling prophesy looks for and desires love, but it somehow falls through the cracks time and time again. With a hint of string manipulation, "Heart," which tears every assumption about Clarkson to shreds, clocks in at just under four minutes. This is the magic of great lyrics and a great vocalist.