Let me start this off by saying I've been a fan of Kelly Clarkson since her first CD. No, I didn't watch her on American Idol--I caught the winning song on the radio, and went, "Hmm. This is pretty decent." Bought the first CD, was mildly impressed.
Second CD, Breakaway, blew me out of the water.
So, like I said, I've been a fan of Clarkson for a while now. We're the same age, so the music speaks to me a bit better than say, Miley Cyrus (although I'll confess, I do have some Miley on my iPod). Still, I was not prepared for Stronger.
I don't like dance music, unless I'm in a dance club, which isn't often, and even then I'm not a huge fan of it. Stronger is jam-packed with dance music, but it's the kind of dance music that you can actually understand the lyrics. The ballads, if you want to call a song drenched with emotion and power-house vocals and an empowering message a ballad, are phenomenal, even for Clarkson. When she rips in to a prospective man-friend on Let Me Down, it's not a song of disappointment--it's a song of realization, of knowing when to cut your losses and walk away. When she belts out on The War is Over, you understand what it means to turn away from someone you love, because you know that the only thing that's going to happen is more heartbreak.
I read in another review that Clarkson is on her way to becoming the Mary J. Blige of pop, the perpetual victim that nobody wants to see get better. Forgive my language, but bullshit. Stronger showcases a young woman making her way through the minefield of modern relationships and everything that over-the-top description suggests. That doesn't make her a victim--it makes her real, and honest, and at the end of the day, makes her Stronger.