Kelly Clarkson told MTV News back in November 2009 that she was working on new music for a follow-up to "All I Ever Wanted," an album just eight months old at the time, and was hoping for an early 2010 release date. One month led to another and rumored release dates (and album titles) ran rampant, but really heated up early in 2011, especially with the release of the No. 1 hit country duet "Don't You Wanna Stay?" with Jason Aldean. But then a tentative release date in June was again shoved back, but the album had a title. "Stronger" would be released in October.
"I worked really hard on it," Clarkson told MTV News. "And it's my best album, I think, to date."
And it very well might be. MTV News' Jocelyn Vena characterized the album as "full of power pop that finds Kelly delivering an empowerment message with her signature sassiness." Billboard's Jason Lipshutz noted that the album "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."
MTV News asked why "Stronger" was chosen for the title. Clarkson explained: "There were a few different titles that were going around and I think the reason why we came up with 'Stronger' was just because every song was about empowerment and almost like overcoming stuff. So, even if it was a bad situation and a sad song, it was about overcoming that. So by the end of the song, it's kind of more inspiration than sad. So I think that's why [we named it that], and I think after 10 years of doing it you feel a little stronger personally and musically. People know you better. It's just easier, I think."
It is hoped that "Stonger" can build on Clarkson's fourth album, "All I Ever Wanted," which produced the second No. 1 single of Clarkson's career (the first being her very first single, "A Moment Like This," the winning song from "American Idol") and became a sort of rebound album following the lackluster performance of "My December," an album that saw a marked drop-off in sales in comparison to "Breakaway" (which sold over 6 million copies in the United States).
And getting the album to a release date not only hit undisclosed snags and delays along the way, but Clarkson also had to fight a "leak" just three weeks before the was to drop. According to Billboard, to combat a "leak" of the title track onto the Internet in early October, Clarkson released "What Doesn't Kill You (Stronger)" on her website on Oct. 4.
Three days after "Stronger" was released in the Australia and several European countries (Oct. 21), the album became available in the United States. The much anticipated album includes the Aldean song and twelve other tracks, including "Mr. Know It All," the first single from the offering that has already jumped up the charts and peaked at No. 18 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart (although it has fluctuated inside the Top 30 for the past couple weeks and looks to start climbing again with the release of the new album). It has scored a Top 10 slot on Billboard's Adult Pop Songs chart and hit No. 1 in two other countries (South Korea and Australia).
She told MTV News that she is currently putting together the particulars of a tour, hoping to get out on the road by January.
The release of the album comes hot on the heels of two other "American Idol" alumni releases in October -- the debut albums of Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina, the winner and runner-up from the latest edition of the popular singing contest/reality show (Season 10). McCreery debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart, only the third "Idol" winner to achieve the feat with their first album, following the path set for him by Season 2's winner Ruben Studdard and Clarkson herself. Alaina debuted the following week at No. 5.
Clarkson is expected to debut in the Top 10 as well.
Update: "Stronger" actually debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200, marking Clarkson's second posting at the spot and her fifth consecutive Top 5 debut. Mr. Know It All would later peak at No. 10 on the Billboard 200 and No. 1 on the Billboard Adult Pop Songs album. The second single from the album, "Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)," would go on to land at No. 1 on 11 different Billboard charts, including the Hot 100 singles chart and surpass Carrie Underwood's "Before He Cheats" as the biggest selling single from an "American Idol" alumnus ever.
(photo credit: Manfred Werner-Tsui, Creative Commons)