Tuesday, October 18, 2011

What Doesn't Kill You

Song: What Doesn't Kill You
Artist: Kelly Clarkson
Album: Stronger

Something happened with my perception of Kelly Clarkson given the release of her third album, the controversial "My December" from 2007.  The record label reportedly didn't like it, wanted to switch out some songs for poppier-radio friendly tracks, but Clarkson stood her ground... and did things her way.  Sure the world really started their love affair with her after the international smash hits from her sophomore album, "Breakaway," pop-rock international super hits written by hit making producers.  "December" showed she was more than a puppet that could really really sing.  It didn't contain any smashes the size of "Since U Been Gone," but a track like that is often a once-in-a-career highlight.  She went back to, or could be argued went overboard with a pop sound for her last album, 2009's "All I Ever Wanted," but I also really liked that record.  It was a little hit-or-miss, but I think finally set in stone what kind of artist Kelly Clarkson was and was going to continue to be... the next Pat Benatar.  (And I say that as high complement.)

"Stronger," the singer-songwriter's fifth album is set for release later this month, followed by the initial single, "Mr. Know it All."  It's pure Kelly Clarkson, holds a few surprises, and splits the difference between the writer-centric hand-wringing of "December" and the pop-rock sheen of "All I Ever Wanted."  So... it's very "Breakaway."  But a smarter, more assured, and well... stronger "Breakaway."

For a first single, "Mr. Know it All" felt a little 'meh' to me, though over time I've gotten to really like it.  In a way it's like a "December" track in that regard, a song that grows without hitting you over the head with catchiness straight out the gate.  But fans of that Kelly (myself included) won't be disappointed by "Stronger," as it has several of those moments as well... including the excellently punchy second track and possible second single "What Doesn't Kill You," as well as "Hello."

This isn't going to convert those that don't care for her... but after just a quick listen I might be inclined to say that "Stronger" is the most Kelly Clarkson or Kelly Clarkson records... caught between rock grit and pop gloss, angsty but assured.  Good for Kelly.


What Doesn't Kill You
 Mr. Know it All
You Love Me

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