While Kelly Clarkson is out promoting a new children's book ("River Rose and the Magical Lullaby") and working on a new album, it's worth a note to take the time to recognize one of her greatest albums in her 14 year career. The Grammy winning Stronger was released five years ago (Oct. 24, 2011) and will forever be remembered for its hits, its cohesiveness and what it accomplished for her career.
Stronger was led by single "Mr. Know It All," a snappy tune of self-confidence and knowing what is truth. The video for the song was draped in actual newspaper clippings during her career that slammed her music, her weight and label troubles. It was the beginning of a new era for Clarkson taking a deeper hold on her direction. At the time, it was her easiest album to make and she surrounded herself with "yes" people. The pop rock album kicked off a string of hits and a worldwide tour that would be arguably her best.
The follow-up single took the album to soaring heights. "What Doesn't Kill You (Stronger)" (or titles reversed for single purposes) marked Clarkson's third Hot 100 No. 1 in early 2012. The dance pop track spent three non-consecutive weeks at No. 1 and was a solid anthem in which she invited fans to film themselves performing to a choreographed piece for the music video. She then chose her favorite submissions and included them in the final edit. Until Phillip Phillips' "Home" featured in the clips for the 2012 U.S. Women's Gymnastics Team, "Stronger" became the best-selling "American Idol" alumni tracks.
It's often hard to follow a No. 1 hit with another and "Dark Side" would be the third and last single from the set that could have seen so many more. The midtempo track failed to replicate the success of "Stronger" but was an early fan favorite.
Clarkson toured the record in 2012 including two legs in North America. Unique to the show and she's continued ever since was the introduction to "fan requests." Fans tweet out a song they want her to perform at each show, tagging with the city, and she and her backing band learn the song that day. It was included in the setlist on top of Clarkson's own standard choice. For the first leg it was Florence + The Machine's "Heavy in Your Arms" and for the second, she chose Fun.'s "We Are Young." Concluding in the U.K., Clarkson's backup singers Jill and Kate left the band to continue with their career.
Fast forward to the 2013 Grammy Awards, the song "Stronger" was nominated for three awards--Record of the Year (singer/producer award), Song of the Year (songwriter award) and Best Pop Solo Performance. The album was nominated for Best Pop Vocal Album and Kelly Clarkson earned one more achievement to her name. Stronger won and Clarkson became the only artist to win the award more than once (2004's Breakaway won in 2006). In 2016, she became the artist with the most nominations in that category with a total of four when Piece by Piece earned a nomination. She was previously tied with Madonna, Justin Timberlake, Pink and Sarah McLachlan. That night she also had the chance to perform a tribute to Patti Page and Carole King, one of the highlights of the entire night.
The album included a duet with songwriter Kara DioGuardi and another duet with Chris Daughtry "One More Yesterday" was scrapped for the project. Many songs were inspired by Tina Turner, Prince and Sheryl Crow. Clarkson's vocals on the album were at her peak--strong, fluent and without autotune as she insisted.