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OCT
26
3 YEARS

Kelly Clarkson's 'Stronger:' What the Critics Are Saying

One notes the "American Idol" winner's "vocal power is still astoundingly effortless" while another says her lyrics "contain some real wincers."

Kelly Clarkson
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson may have called Stronger her best album yet, but what are the critics saying?

"Even if Stronger lacks the killer radio cuts that have thus far defined Clarkson's legacy, her latest album is still a sumptuous, tightly paced offering from one of pop music's greatest singers. Yes, you read that right -- Clarkson's vocal power is still astoundingly effortless, and helps the average songwriting of "Stronger" sound enigmatic," writes Jason Lipshutz in Billboard.

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Her voice has also continued to mature since "All I Ever Wanted," giving an adult voice to these tales of moving on from erratic relationships," he adds.

In Rolling Stone, Jody Rosen writes, "Kelly Clarkson's fifth studio album is based on a simple formula: 1) Put Clarkson in a room with a microphone; 2) Give her a solid pop song to sing; 3) Get the hell out of the way. It's a sound strategy. From the walloping breakup anthem "Mr. Know-It-All" to the closing roof-raiser, "Breaking Your Own Heart," Stronger is as deft as any Clarkson album, with 13 catchy songs that hover between pop rock, R&B and Nashville – all of them showcases for one of music's most remarkable voices.

"Clarkson remains a slightly wearying one-note artist – she's a wounded lover, bellowing her pain and scorching the earth. But wow – that voice," adds Rosen.

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In the New York Daily News, Jim Farber says the album (which dropped Oct. 25), "intensifies the strategy of Clarkson's previous work, 2009's power-pop barn-burner 'All I Ever Wanted.' Those who eagerly chowed down on its amped-up and cheeky hits, like 'My Life Would Suck Without You,' should loosen their belts for a double portion here."

But he's not a fan of the lyrics, which he says "contain some real wincers, like 'I'm living my truth' in 'Mr. Know It All' or the chorus of 'Einstein,' which contains some of the worst lines in pop history. ('I may not be Einstein/but I know that dumb plus dumb equals you')."

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Still, Farber writes, "That's the low end of what you'd expect from the kind of corporate spores who wrote the material. Yet, by the standards of such song doctors, Clarkson rates as an ideal patient. She's got the best possible voice for their bombast. If that makes her CD as likeable an example of pop cynicism as we could hope for, it leads to a nagging thought: Maybe strength is overrated."