Behind the Song: Kelly Clarkson “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)”
What started as simple advice from a mother to her daughter became one of the well-known and beloved songs of 2012.
Nominated for three GRAMMYs including Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best Pop Solo Performance, the song began organically. Radio.com chatted with songwriter Ali Tamposi and producer Greg Kurstin, two of the masterminds behind Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You).”
On the day of her writing session with Jorgen Elofsson and David Gamson, Ali was spending time with her mom who was in town visiting.
“I was going through a break-up from someone I had been with for seven years. In the midst of tears, anger, and a bad attitude she said the magic words, ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,’” Ali recalled.
Those words resonated with her and when it came time to picking the song’s title it was a natural contender.
“From there, the session was over in about three hours. We all felt really good about the song,” she said. “A couple of months later, David Gamson emailed us the demo. My mind was blown! I’ll never forget all of the ‘smash’ responses from our managers and publishers on the email chain.”
When Kelly Clarkson heard the track she decided she wanted an edgier production. In came producer Greg Kurstin.
“After listening to it I thought I could rewrite the track and it could bring a different energy to the whole thing,” he said. “First I changed the drums and tempo and then added a new guitar hook under the verses. I changed the chords as well. We presented this new version to all of the other writers and everybody agreed on the new version.”
Ali couldn’t be happier with the final product.
“When Greg sent us a snippet of ‘Stronger (WDKY)’ we all lost our minds. Greg took the song to another level,” she said.
Now nominated for three GRAMMYs, Greg and Ali explained why the track has garnered such an overwhelming reaction.
“I think it’s very uplifting. Kelly’s vocal is very powerful,” Greg said. “I think so many people love Kelly and this song seems to really resonate when she sings it.”
“It takes some serious pipes and endurance to sing this song and Kelly makes it look like a walk in the park,” Ali explained. “I believe that it’s a combination of feel good melodies and chords, kick-ass production, an empowering lyrical message and the voice of one of the most incredible singers in the world.”
“Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” is the second single from Kelly’s fifth album Stronger. Her third song to top the Billboard Hot 100 chart for three weeks, it has become her longest running No. 1 single in the U.S.
-Annie Reuter, Radio.com