Top 40 single reviews

Kelly Clarkson

Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)

Album: Stronger

Year: 2012


           Kelly Clarkson gets a fresh start after a breakup in the  unyielding  “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)”

            A mellow guitar opens the single, setting a liberated tone.   She wakes up, her pillows in the center of the bed and tucks herself a bit underneath the covers. She smiles, thinking she would no longer have to deal with ex-boyfriend’s late night talks about their relationship. The late night talks were mostly criticisms of her. She is able to relax and sleep without wondering what she did to cause him to be upset. Later, she plans to see a couple of friends she hasn’t seen in awhile. When she was with her ex-boyfriend, he had to be the social director and make all the decisions. She can’t wait to catch up and find what’s going on with them. (“You know the bed feels warmer/Sleeping here alone/You know I dream in colour/And do the things I want.”)


            In the pre-chorus, she can still hear him tell him that he stopped doing things he wanted because of her and she was dependent on him for everything. She thinks he’s probably talking with his friends, explaining his side of the story: she didn’t realize what she had and will soon realize her mistake. He’s likely raising his phone and declaring to his friends it’s not over yet. She’ll call again and want to get back together. It will have to stay his fantasy. It’s not going to happen. (“You think you got the best of me/Think you've had the last laugh/Bet you think that everything good is gone/Think you left me broken down/Think that I'd come running back/Baby you don't know me, cause you're dead wrong.”)


             In the chorus, she says she will get past his insults and blame. She will take the time to breathe, reasses what she wants out of her life, and be single. She will move forward and learn from her mistakes. (“What doesn't kill you makes you stronger/Stand a little taller/Doesn't mean I'm lonely when I'm alone/What doesn't kill you makes a fighter/Footsteps even lighter/Doesn't mean I'm over cause you're gone/What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, stronger/Just me, myself and I/What doesn't kill you makes you stronger/Stand a little taller/Doesn't mean I'm lonely when I'm alone.”)

            It’s been about six months since the breakup and she’s begun to hang out with an old friend of hers. It turns out he’d been interested in her for a long time and she nows she can trust him. He helped her through when her ex found out she was dating again and was calling her nonstop. She thinks how her ex thought she would wait around for him and be a mess without him. (“You heard that I was starting over with someone new/They told you I was moving on over you.”)

      In the pre-chorus,  she’s happy with a boyfriend who cares about her. Her ex can still put her down but he doesn’t have any influence on her anymore. (“You didn't think that I'd come back/I'd come back swinging/You try to break me, but you see.”)

       The chorus is sung again.

       In the bridge, she says the breakup was a blessing in disguise. She finally got the courage be with  the guy she’s loved for a long time. She cares about her own happiness and has realized she is worth something. (“Thanks to you I got a new thing started/Thanks to you I'm not the broken-hearted/Thanks to you I'm finally thinking about me/You know in the end the day you left was just my beginning/In the end.”)

       The first part of the chorus is sung again.

The second part of the chorus is sung twice (“What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, stronger/Just me, myself and ..doesn't mean I'm lonely when I'm alone.”)

    At the end, she says “when I’m alone” to finish the single.

  Clarkson’s secure, spunky vocals are resilient, pushes through the hurt and anger, careful to avoid the manipulative traps she fell into before and makes the improvements needed in herself. She emerges as a self-assured person, able to stand on her own.

      The independent  “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You),” gives out common sense advice.

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