Kelly Clarkson is one of this generation's best vocalists. With a sassy attitude and an apt to write songs when she's on a warpath, she's cemented herself as one of the breakup queens. Her journey has been filled with ups and downs, hit songs and battles to do it her way. Her 2011 album Stronger at this point remains one of her strongest for lack of better term. It's home of the moderate performing singles "Mr. Know It All" and "Dark Side" and is also the parent album to her most successful single to date, "Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)." The album however is to date her most cohesive with plenty of tracks worthy of knowing. AXS is taking a look at the top 5 album tracks from her Grammy winning album.
Begun by Bonnie McKee, Josh Abraham and Oliver Goldstein, "Hello" has a Sheryl Crow vibe with its lighthearted melody but disheartening lyrics. The song was presented to Clarkson with only a chorus so the Grammy winner finished the song playfully singing about being on her own and wanting to have someone who shows her she's not. It's reminiscent of a song that could have been included on 2007's My December but more polished.
"Honestly" is one of the vocally intense songs found on Clarkson's fifth album Stronger. Referenced as her "Radiohead song," the track is littered with dramatic undertones with lyrics like, "Would you face me?/ Make me listen to the truth even if it breaks me/ You can judge me, love me/ If you're hating me/ Do it honestly." The original demo sung by a male was more progressive with beats but Clarkson's final version is slick and what she calls a "wailer."
One of the standout tracks on the album, "Standing in Front of You" was written with Clarkson's guitarist Aben Eubanks and a demo leaked in 2010. The demo featured a more 80's vibe and the label asked Clarkson to add more production. The song was also produced by longtime musical director Jason Halbert while then-drummer Miles McPherson contributed to the recorded drums. The song could easily have been featured in a movie with its cinematic production.
A favorite of Clarkson's and her fans, "You Love Me" is sassy yet heartbreaking as she was deceived. Clarkson wrote the track in a universal fashion but is about a working relationship she had that she couldn't believe was backstabbing. "You didn't let me down/ You didn't tear me apart/ You just opened my eyes while breaking my heart," she sings over a Tina Turner like riff. The song was also released on The Smoakstack Sessions Vol. 1 with the release of the album as a thumping electronic rocker.
Included as a bonus track on the deluxe edition, "The Sun Will Rise" features guest artist Kara DioGuardi whom Clarkson has worked with in the past ("Walk Away" and others). Dioguardi's presence isn't much needed on the powerful track. The song is sweet at first wrapped in strings and inspirational lyrics. All hell breaks loose when Clarkson opens her chest and just roars giving that uplifting empowering feel as written in the song's content.
Kelly Clarkson's catalog continues to grow with songs that the world can relate to no matter what she was feeling either in recording or writing her own personal tracks. Clarkson has said Stronger was the easiest album to make at that time and everyone on her label's team were on the same page. The package as a whole showed maturity and strength as she entered new phases in her life. There are many more notable tracks on the album such as "The War Is Over," "Breaking Your Own Heart" with its country influence and the vocally strong "Let Me Down."