Monday, 24 October 2011

Kelly Clarkson 'Stronger' Deluxe Edition Album Review

'Stronger' is Kelly's fifth studio album. Her last record 'All I Ever Wanted' generated the smash hit 'My Life would suck without you' which broke Billboard history by being the single with the biggest leap to #1 from #97. Could this album top that?

The album cover is a large black and white close up of Kelly with a gold filter which I personally don't like. The gold chain looks really out of place and this looks more like an R n B cover which doesn't positively reflect her music. She looks great in the photo but the composition is a bit strange.

There are 17 songs on the deluxe version: 

1. Mr. Know It All 4/5
Lead single from 'Stronger', 'Mr Know It All' is a catchy song which many have drawn resemblance to Pink's husky voice and Bruno Mar's 'Just the way you are'. I like the angsty attitude she presents here and hopefully carries through to the rest of the album. 


2. What Doesn't Kill You (Stronger) 5/5
One of the best songs off the album and perhaps has the most direct link to the title, 'What Doesn't Kill You' is an infectious song that you will sing along to or shout along to in an explosive chorus you just can't get out of your head. Definitely single worthy- and potentially a smash hit. 


3. Dark Side 4/5
A slightly mellow song to begin with transforms into yet another strong chorus which is addictive, but slightly eclipsed by the impact of the previous track. This song is however more emotional and you can sense it.


4. Honestly 3.5/5
The first 'soft' song on the album so far, 'Honestly' develops into an upbeat and heartfelt track. It's not my favourite and it is a tad shouty towards the middle but there are still things to like about it.

5. You Love Me 4/5
This song doesn't grab you as quickly as the other tracks though I'm sure it will grow on me after a few more listens. There is a great hook here but this doesn't carry through to the whole song and it falls short of being spectacular.

6. Einstein 5/5
Previously dubbed 'Dumb+Dumb=You', 'Einstein' is much more appropriately titled and is a sassy track that despite it's slightly childish lyrics, makes a great Clarkson hit.

7. Standing In Front Of You 4/5
'Standing In Front of You' is a nice ballad but does not compare to her smash hit 'Because of You'. It is a beautiful song, with some great lyrics but is a tad reserved and doesn't quite go to extraterrestrial limits.

8. I Forgive You 4.5/5
The background dub-step/synth is really annoying in the verses (and all you listen during the verses), but the chorus is stunning- love the catchiness and addictiveness which does save it, but it would've been a 5 without that heart-wrenching production.

9. Hello 4/5
'Hello is a song that is strong and holds its own on the album but doesn't stand out like 'Einstein' or 'What Doesn't Kill You'. Personally, this may fade into the background amongst the other outstanding tracks and become forgotten.

10. The War Is Over 4/5
From the title of the song, I was expecting a lot out of this track. There could be so many emotions and feelings expressed through this song. Though it is lyrically spot on, musically it feels like it is in limbo- halfway between a catchy belter and a ballad. I wish it had gone in either direction to elevate this to that higher level. Still, it is a strong track and there's enough here to love.

11. Let Me Down 5/5
From the moment I heard this track, I fell in love it. It is soo different to other Kelly Clarkson tracks that it stands out. There is something dark about this song which makes me think of 'My December' but it is also very addictive and this is perhaps my favourite track on the album.

12. You Can't Win 3.5/5
Drowned within a plethora of other tracks, 'You can't Win' falls into the same category as 'Hello'. It doesn't have enough to stand out but isn't lacking enough to be criticised.

13. Breaking Your Own Heart 4.5/5
Despite a slight aged sound, 'Breaking Your Own Heart' is a very beautiful ballad and the best one on the album. Heartfelt and meaningful, this is a lovely end to the standard edition of 'Stronger'.
14. Don't You Wanna Stay (w/ Jason Aldean) 4/5
A tad dated, the track was released on Jason Aldean's album in 2010, so it feels weird listening to it now with Kelly's new stuff, but it's a great duet and I'm surprised Kelly hasn't done more collaborations.

15. Alone 4/5
The blueprints for a smash hit could be found in 'Alone' but it doesn't quite feel developed enough to get there, whether it is production or the sound... but nevertheless a nice addition to the bonus tracks.
16. Don't Be a Girl About It 4/5
Another very upbeat track that would've fit nicely onto the album but I'm glad it's included into the deluxe.

17. The Sun Will Rise 3.5/5
A nice ballad to go into the deluxe mix giving variety. Does not trump 'Breaking Your Own Heart' and rightfully emitted from the standard version.

18. Why Don't You Try 3/5 (BONUS)
A softer track with a soulful sound- doesn't grab you instantly but may grow on you eventually. It doesn't take away or add to the album.
SONGS TO LOVE: Dark Side, What Doesn't Kill You, Einstein, Let Me Down
SONGS TO SKIP: None, but some tracks are unmemorable

Kelly Clarkson's 'Stronger' is a super record that develops her sound from her previous album 'All I Ever Wanted'. With inevitable smash hits such as 'What Doesn't Kill You (Stronger)', 'Einstein' and 'Let Me Down', certain tracks that are good ('Hello'/'You Can't Win') are shadowed and unfortunately likely to be unmemorable or fade into the background.

With regards to the deluxe tracks, for the first time, they have been rightfully chosen as extras. Many a time, we find that the deluxe tracks are better than some tracks on the album, but this is not the case. They are a nice addition but in no way rivals any of the tracks on the standard edition.

In closing, Kelly Clarkson has returned with a great new album with a few tracks that will inevitably infect people in due course. There is great commercial potential too and definitely a few #1's in there.

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