Kelly Clarkson returns “Stronger”

Kelly Clarkson
Stronger
Release Date: November 24, 2011
Sony

Our American Idol sweetheart is baaack and better than ever.  Kelly Clarkson returns with her fifth studio album, Stronger, and takes off running with her first single “Mr. Know It All”.  It’s got the same swagger as former Kelly songs, “Miss Independent” and “Walk Away”.

“What Doesn’t Kill You (Stronger)”, the “title” track is a dancey anthem with synths bumping and might be the guuuurl power anthem of 2012.  This track leaves Britney’s “Stronger” in the dust as Kelly belts out “Stroooooonger” with more panache than the former mouseketeer.  The twinkling bass line ending is a nice touch too.

“Dark Side” reminds me a little of the opening of The Hills (aka Hillary Duff’s “Come Clean”)  with it’s slow burn into the chorus, “Everybody’s got a dark side. Do you love me.”  Another track that conjures familiar pop territory is ”You Love Me” which opens a little like Gwen Stefani’s “Cool” with a retro 80′s undertone, as Kelly’s vocals really pack a punch on this track.

Standouts include “The War Is Over”, a signature ballad soon to be a kellassic, and “I Forgive You”, which  Melissa Maerz of Entertainment Weekly aptly concluded “plays like a heartfelt postscript to the guy who left her in ”Since U Been Gone””.  Could this be the next single?  Unfortunately, the album isn’t free of duds.  Most glaringly is “Einstein”, where Kelly sings about math and utters the cringe-worthy lyrics, “Dumb plus dumb equals you.”  Kelly is known as a queen of the pop ballad, but aside from the aforementioned “The War Is Over”, tracks like “Standing In Front Of You” and “Breaking Your Own Heart” are simply sweet serenades and not the power ballads we love Kelly belting.  Here’s the thing though.  These mediocre ballads are still better than many of the latest crop of pop princesses attempting to overthrow our queen.  So with that all hail, Queen Kelly!

Note: Though not reviewed, a bonus version includes previously released “Don’t You Wanna Stay?” (duet with Jason Aldean), “Alone,” “Don’t Be a Girl About It” and “The Sun Will Rise.”

Track list
Mr. Know It All
What Doesn’t Kill You (Stronger)
Dark Side
Honestly
You Love Me
Einstein
Standing In Front Of You
I Forgive You
Hello
The War Is Over
Let Me Down
You Can’t Win
Breaking Your Own Heart

No tour dates announced yet, but Kellibrities await at baited breath.

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