It hasn’t been that long since Kelly Clarkson dropped a new album — her last release, All I Ever Wanted, arrived only two years ago. Still, it feels like an eternityin pop years as we wait for the original American Idol to share some new tunes. Clarkson’s oft-delayed fifth studio album Stronger is finally ready to go, and though you may already feel like you’ve gotten a taste of what to expect via all those leaks, there’s still plenty to discover in our Fall Music Preview.
ALBUM: Stronger (RCA), Clarkson’s fifth studio LP.
RELEASE DATE: October 24.
SINGLES RELEASED SO FAR: Though we’ve already heard half of the album thanks (or from Kelly’s point of view, no thanks) to several leaks, the only officially released single so far is “Mr. Know It All”.
WHAT THE TITLE MEANS: During a Livestream chat with her fans, she said her album title comes from a lyric in new track “What Doesn’t Kill You.” “I ended up naming the album Stronger mainly because the entire album is about empowerment and just strength overall,” she said. “I love singing songs like that. I love being sassy. I love having attitude. I love raining on boys’ parades!”
ALBUM PRODUCERS: Ester Dean and Brian Kennedy produced Kelly’s lead single “Mr. Know It All”, and Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins is credited on album cut “I Forgive You”. She also hit the studio with Claude Kelly, recording a handful of tracks.
WHAT TO EXPECT: The 13-track album (17 on the deluxe version) is chock full of the same glossy hooks, upbeat guitar licks and fiestiness as her previous albums, but with a bit more of an edge — Clarkson has said her influences this time around range from Prince, to Tina Turner, Sheryl Crow, and Radiohead. (She hasn’t name-checked Bruno Mars, but it’s impossible not to hear echoes of his “Just The Way You Are” on “Mr. Know It All.”)
Country fans also get a bit of treat, as her collaboration with Jason Aldean on “Don’t You Wanna Stay” gets included on the deluxe version.
Unfortunately, what not to expect: that long-awaited duet with another former Idol. Although a collab with Chris Daughtry was planned, the album went in another direction and the duet was scrapped. “I love Chris, so one day we are gonna get a song together and we’re both gonna sing it together,” she said.
ABOUT THOSE LEAKS…: Upon realizing how many of her tracks had leaked, Kelly didn’t appear to be very upset. But soon after, she told Entertainment Weekly another story: “Those songs came out and people are like, ‘Oh my God, what direction is Kelly going?’… I think what made me mad was that: 1) People stole from me, and 2): Everybody had no idea what my next album was going to sound like. That really caused a lot of confusion.”
TOUR PLANS: According to Kelly herself during a Livestream chat, she hopes to hit the road in January.
OUR THOUGHTS: If the songs that surfaced online were disappointing in any way, we might be a bit more concerned for Kelly’s album, and how it would stand out in a pop-heavy year. But thankfully, we were pretty much in love with everything we heard from Clarkson that leaked early, even the rough demos. The voice and the music is all there — and now that many of the other pop big-wigs are winding down their early-2011 releases, it’s Kelly’s time to take over.
Check out the other artists’ albums in our Fall Music Preview:
Lady Antebellum, Own The Night
Katy B, On A Mission
Demi Lovato, Unbroken
Dev, The Night The Sun Came Up
The Bangles, Sweetheart Of The Sun
Cody Simpson, Coast To Coast
Tony Bennett, Duets II
J. Cole, Cole World: The Sideline Story
Scotty McCreery, Clear As Day
Frankmusik, Do It In The AM