Top 40 single reviews

Album: Oops!...I Did It Again
Year: 2000

Britney Spears lets go of a damaging relationship in the secure “Stronger.”

A booming drum machine opens the single, setting an impulsive tone. In the intro, she tells herself she can do it and leave.

“Oh hey, yeah.”

In the first verse, she tells him to be quiet and listen to her. He cannot persuade her that he’s a changed person. She’s through with his empty compliments and dulled promises. She tells him he no longer has control over her anymore. He’s told her she would lose her friends and popularity if she broke up with him. But she knows she will be able to meet someone better for her.

“Hush, just stop/There’s nothing you can do or say, baby/I’ve had enough/I’m not your property as from today, baby/You might think that I won't make it on my own/But now I’m.”

In the chorus, she says she has an enormous amount of confidence she didn’t even know she had. She’s going to make decisions without him and not be swayed by his opinions. She says being alone gives her time to find out what she likes. She’s a new person.

“Stronger than yesterday/Now it’s nothing but my way/My loneliness ain’t killing me no more/I’m, I’m stronger.”

In the second verse, she says she thought she wouldn’t be able to leave him. She would allow him to do whatever he wanted and she didn’t say a word. All that mattered was accommodating his needs. But over time, she started to resent him for not thinking of her once in a while. She tells him he may believe her to be weak and will run back to him. However, he’s mistaken and really doesn’t know her as well as he thinks.

“That I ever thought that I could be, baby/I used to go with the flow/Didn’t really care ‘bout me/You might think that I can’t take it, but you’re wrong/‘Cause now I’m.”

The chorus is sung again.

In the bridge, the drum machines stamp and then the vigilant synths are hushed but quickly swirl, getting louder with Spears’ declarations. Spears can be heard panting in the background. She says she’s independent of him and rather be single for the moment. She can be happy going out with her girlfriends and spending time by herself. She doesn’t need a boyfriend to make her life complete.

“Come on, now/Oh, yeah/Here I go, on my own/I don’t need nobody, better off alone/Here I go, on my own now/I don’t need nobody, not anybody/Here I go (here I go, here I go, here I go)/Alright, here I go (here I go, here I go, here I go).”

The chorus is sung twice to close the single.

After getting back together with him, she’s found she’s being told what to do and how to think by her boyfriend by him again. She decides she deserves better and breaks up with him. Something inside her snapped as he said, “Honey, you have to do it this way or unless it won’t work. Your way will only break it.” But she knows his idea will only to lead more problems. In the middle of his patronizing explanation of how the game console works, she tells him it’s over. She will be able to handle whatever she needs to do by herself. It’s likely he’s the boy she was trying to win over again in “…Baby One More Time” due to the reference (“my loneliness ain’t killin’ me no more.”)

Spears’ hoarse, shy vocals are faint and obscured from the multiple background singers and Pro-Tools. Her guttural growls are credible and briefly, let her express her discontent. Otherwise, most of the work falls onto the background singers. The credit belongs to them, listed as “fan choir” (in the liner notes), for being resolute and staunch in their vocals.

The headstrong arrangement shoves and blasts through, tearing down any doubt. Producer Max Martin improves on the dance-pop formula he used on the Backstreet Boys singles (specifically “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back), which the bridge resembles). It’s heartier and urgent than before.

The boisterous “Stronger” is vacuous, insistent fun.

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