Stronger (Kanye West song)

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"Stronger"
Single by Kanye West
from the album Graduation
Released July 31, 2007 (2007-07-31)
Format CD single, digital download, 12" single
Recorded 2006 (2006)
Genre Hip hop
Length 5:11 (Album version)
4:04 (Radio edit)
Label Roc-A-Fella, Def Jam
Writer(s) Kanye West, Thomas Bangalter, Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, Edwin Birdsong
Producer(s) Kanye West, Mike Dean
Certification 5× Platinum (RIAA)
Kanye West singles chronology
"Can't Tell Me Nothing"
(2007)
"Stronger"
(2007)
"Good Life"
(2007)
Music video
Music video on YouTube
Music sample
A sample of "Stronger" by Kanye West and features a sample of Daft Punk's "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger".

"Stronger" is a song by American hip hop artist Kanye West, released as the second single from his third studio album Graduation. It was produced by West and contains an extended outro co-produced with Mike Dean. The song contains a vocal sample of "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger" by French house duo Daft Punk, who thereby have songwriting credits along with Edwin Birdsong, whose song "Cola Bottle Baby" formed the basis of "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger." The single was first released digitally on July 31, 2007 and soon became West's third number-one single. It won a Grammy Award for Best Rap Solo Performance at the 50th Grammy Awards. As of March 2013, "Stronger" has sold over 5 million digital copies in the United States.[1]

Background[edit]

A portion of "Stronger" was first released in May 2007 on West's Can't Tell Me Nothing mixtape.[2] Shortly afterwards, on May 31, 2007, Brendon Joshua played the full-length song on his podcast. On June 27, 2007, "Stronger" was put onto the BBC Radio 1 Up-Front playlist and was later upgraded to the A-List a month prior to its release. The single's cover art was released on West's website on June 28, 2007. It was designed by Japanese artist Takashi Murakami, whom West collaborated with to produce the artwork for Graduation.[3]

The cover artwork features a cartoon version of West's mascot "Dropout Bear" wearing sunglasses similar to the those West wears in the music video, as well as the small, trademark robot helmets of the Daft Punk duo Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo.[4][5] West performed a partial version of "Stronger" live at the Concert for Diana held at Wembley Stadium on July 1, 2007 to a crowd of 63,000 people. An estimated 500 million people watched the event in over 140 countries worldwide.[6]

The single was released to iTunes on July 31, 2007. It debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 at number forty-seven and eventually peaked at the number-one position, the same week his album Graduation took the number one spot. It is West's third number-one single in the United States, following "Slow Jamz" and "Gold Digger." After becoming West's first number one single in the UK, "Stronger" went on to be met by widespread international success, reaching number-one in Canada, Turkey, and New Zealand. The song was also met by critical recognition and was the recipient of multiple awards, including a Grammy Award for Best Rap Solo Performance. Daft Punk themselves made a surprise appearance at the 50th Grammy Awards on February 10, 2008 to join West in performing a reworked version of the song on stage at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. A press release specified that this was the very first televised live performance by Daft Punk in their career.[7]

Music and structure[edit]

"Stronger" is an electronica-infused hip-hop song composed in the key of E-flat minor. It is written in common time and moves at 104 beats per minute. The production of the track revolves around a vocoder-affected vocal sample of the song "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger" by French house duo Daft Punk.[4] Following the introduction, where the cut-up sample of Daft Punk's robotic vocals is played continuously in the background at a decreased tempo, West raps the song's refrain over a four-to-the-floor rhythmic pattern.[8] The lyrics of the refrain paraphrase Friedrich Nietzsche's famous dictum, "What does not kill him, makes him stronger," as well as the chorus twice and enter the first verse. West repeats this process three more times, making slight alterations to the chorus each time. He injects a "me likey" ad-lib after the hook in the second, repeats a line within the verse six times on the third, and recites the hook four times on the fourth. At its close, the track enters an extended outro containing a synth-heavy breakdown that comes complete with angelic backing vocals and somber electric guitars chiming in unison.[9]

Feeling dissatisfied after he heard "Stronger" inside a club alongside Timbaland's 2007 single "The Way I Are," which was his favourite beat at the moment, West enlisted the hip-hop record producer to assist him in redoing his song's drum programming for the final version of the track, which appears on the Graduation album.[10][11][12] This version contains a master use of Edwin Birdsong's "Cola Bottle Baby," the song that had been previously sampled by Daft Punk themselves to produce "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger".[4] The pre-album version of "Stronger", known to the public and being used by radio, television and other outlets, was the version used as the single.[citation needed] On October 4, 2007, a previously unreleased version of "Stronger" was revealed. This version retains a singular, unused verse from West, while the structure features less synthesizer chords and percussion. It is believed that this version was an early draft of the final song.[13]

On July 3, 2007, West told Zane Lowe on BBC Radio 1 that although he believes "Stronger" is a great song, it does not compare to the sampled original. Daft Punk were delighted upon first hearing the new song on Power 106 while on a San Francisco flight. As Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo of the duo stated, "Our song had a good sound, but when [the radio DJ] put Kanye's record on, the sound was really fat. It sounds really big."[5] The use of "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger" was requested through Pedro Winter, Daft Punk's manager at the time, and approved by the duo.[14] De Homem-Christo also clarified that "It's not a collaboration in the studio, but the vibe of the music we do separately connected in what [West] did with the song."[5] In a 2008 interview, de Homem-Christo specified that the live performance of "Stronger" at the 50th Grammy Awards was "truly a collaboration from the start. We really did it all hand in hand."[15]

Media reception[edit]

The song was named the number one record of 2007 in the January 2008 issue of Spin magazine with Kanye West and Daft Punk presiding on the cover. This song was number 11 on Rolling Stone's list of the 100 Best Songs of 2007.[16] This song was also number 96 on MTV Asia's list of Top 100 Hits of 2007.[17]

Chart performance[edit]

"Stronger" entered the Billboard Hot 100 on the charting week of August 11, 2007 at number forty-seven, the highest debut single on the chart that week. Over the next eight weeks, the song steadily climbed upwards, reaching the number one position on the charting week of September 29, 2007, pushing the previous week's chart topper, Soulja Boy Tell 'Em's "Crank That (Soulja Boy)" into the number two position. However, the following week, "Crank That (Soulja Boy)" replaced "Stronger" atop the charts, making West's single reach its peak for only one week. As of March 2013, the single has sold over 5 million digital copies in the US alone.[1]

The song debuted at number three in the United Kingdom and rose to become West's very first British number one single. Climbing on downloads alone, it surpassed the prior week's number one single, Robyn's "With Every Heartbeat". It has also topped the Canadian Hot 100, New Zealand, and the Turkish Singles charts. "Stronger" also spent 18 weeks on the German Singles Chart. The song ended 2007 as the 19th biggest-selling single in the United Kingdom of that year.[18]

Music video[edit]

Kanye West's shutter shades in the music video

The music video for "Stronger" was directed by Hype Williams and shot over nine days in Japan.[19] It include shots filmed in Aoyama-based clothing store A Bathing Ape as well as Harajuku clothing store Billionaire Boys Club/Ice Cream. The video took over three months to complete. West first premiered a rough cut at the Tribeca Studios in New York City on June 19, 2007.[19] It made its public premiere on June 26, 2007, on MTV Germany's TRL. The video was also shown on the BET countdown show 106 & Park on June 28, 2007.

The video features appearances by singer and model Cassie Ventura, a real-life Japanese motorcycle gang, and the two principal actors from the film Daft Punk's Electroma dressed as Daft Punk.[5] The video also features multiple scenes which pay homage to the 1988 anime film Akira.[20] These include the light effects on the motorbikes, the hospital scenes and West being scanned by machines. Both West and Williams had originally planned to integrate scenes from the film into the video.[20] West also wears a pair of Alain Mikli sunglasses, which he requested from the designer specifically for the video.[21] The sunglasses have since become a signature of West, who for a period of time often donned them during performances. The video was nominated two 2007 MTV Video Music Awards for Video of the Year and Best Editing in a Video. It won Best Hip-Hop Video at the BET Hip-Hop Awards as well as Best Video at the MOBO Awards.[22][23]

Cover versions and media usage[edit]

The JabbaWockeeZ performed to this song in the finale of America's Best Dance Crew (season 1) as their victory performance for being crowned champions. Thirty Seconds to Mars performed a cover version of "Stronger" on BBC Radio 1, which is featured on Radio 1's Live Lounge – Volume 2 and a UK release of the single "From Yesterday". The cover features a slower tempo on guitar and omits the profanity, which was reworded by their lead singer Jared Leto. Leto said that he "hoped that Kanye [was] okay" with the editing.[24]

The song can be heard for the promo of the 2007 film The Kingdom. It can also be heard as the introductory song of the Baltimore Orioles, Toronto Raptors, New York Mets, Texas Longhorns, Washington Wizards, Cincinnati Reds and Tampa Bay Rays. The New York Giants entered the field to this song at Super Bowl XLII and during most of their home games during the season. The New York Rangers and Chicago Blackhawks play it at every home game as well. The song won the Grammy Award for Best Rap Solo Performance for the 50th Grammy Awards and is also Featured in Season 4 Episode 4 of Entourage as background music in a night club. The A-Trak remix of the song is used in an advert for the short-lived American TV show Bionic Woman. This song is also used by Animal Planet to promote their new show Jockeys, appearing in commercials as well as being the series' opening theme. UK rapper Kano has freestyled over this song on his mixtape MC No.1. The song also appeared on the trailer for the videogame Top Spin 4. In 2008 "Stronger" was featured in the movie "Never Back Down", when the main character, Jake Tyler, enters the "Beatdown" tournament.

In 2011 Stronger appeared on the soundtrack for the movie The Hangover Part II and in the scene where the characters walk through the airport. That same year, West performed the song live at the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show, starting the introduction with a tribute to his mother who had died before his scheduled performance four years before, saying: "In 2007, I was supposed to perform this song on this show… and I lost my superhero – now she’s my super-angel."

In 2013, on the HBO show Girls, Allison Williams's character performed the song at a slower tempo. "Stronger" was also used as a track that can be selected on the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit at Universal Studios Florida. The band Time for Three used their arrangement of "Stronger" in an anti-bullying video.[25]

Track listing[edit]

Personnel[edit]

Information taken from Graduation liner notes.[4]

  • Songwriters: Kanye West, Thomas Bangalter, Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, Edwin Birdsong
  • Producers: Kanye West, Mike Dean (extended outro)
  • Recorder: Seiji
  • Mix engineer: Manny Marroquin
  • Assistant engineers: Kengo Sakura, Bram Tobey, Jason Agel, Nate Hertweck, Jared Robbins
  • Keyboards: Andy Chatterley, La Mar "Mars" Edwards
  • Guitar: Mike Dean

Charts and certifications[edit]

Weekly charts[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Grein, Paul (2013-03-13). "Week Ending March 10, 2013. Songs: The Record-Setter That Isn’t #1". Nielsen SoundScan. Yahoo! Music. Retrieved 2013-03-14. 
  2. ^ "Kanye West: Cant Tell Me Nothing – The Official Mixtape". DatPiff. 2007-05-29. Retrieved 2007-09-19. 
  3. ^ Boucher, Geoff (2007-09-23). "Ready For Launch". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2007-09-23. 
  4. ^ a b c d Graduation (Media notes). Kanye West. Roc-A-Fella Records. 2007. 
  5. ^ a b c d Cohen, Jonathan (2007-08-14). "Exclusive: Live Album To Chronicle Daft Punk Tour". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. Retrieved August 27, 2007. 
  6. ^ "Concert For Diana Raises £1.2m For Charity". Concert for Diana. Prince's Charities Events Limited. 2007-07-02. Retrieved 2007-07-02. 
  7. ^ "Daft Punk Make Surprise Grammy Appearance With Kanye West". NME. IPC Media. 2008-02-11. Retrieved February 10, 2008. 
  8. ^ Park, Adam (2007-01-07). "Kanye West "God Just Brings Collaborations Together"". Clash. Clashmusic.com. Retrieved 2008-04-13. 
  9. ^ Greene, Jayson (2007-09-10). "Kanye West Graduation – Music Review". Stylus Magazine. stylusmagazine.com. Retrieved 2007-09-10. 
  10. ^ Kathwadia, Rajveer (2007-08-15). "Online Review: Kanye West – Graduation". RWD Magazine. RWD Magazine. Retrieved 2007-08-15. 
  11. ^ West, Kanye (2007-09-20). "Stronger Revisited". Vimeo. Vimeo, LLC. Retrieved 2007-09-20. 
  12. ^ Reid, Shaheem (2007-09-31). "Kanye West Thanks 50 Cent for Much-Hyped Rivalry: 'We Push Each Other'". VH1. MTV Networks. Retrieved 2007-09-20. 
  13. ^ kanYe Live! - The #1 kanYe West Fan Site » Alternate Version of Stronger (Unreleased)
  14. ^ Pytlik, Mark (2007-10-02). "Interview: Daft Punk". Pitchfork Media. Pitchfork Media Inc. Retrieved 2007-10-03. 
  15. ^ Blurt, "Encounters of the Daft Kind" (September 2008) pgs. 28-29. Retrieved on July 26, 2009.
  16. ^ "The 100 Best Songs of 2007". Rolling Stone. RealNetworks, Inc. December 11, 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-21. 
  17. ^ "Top 100 Hits List". MTV Asia. MTV Networks. Archived from the original on 2007-12-22. Retrieved 2007-12-27. 
  18. ^ "Top 40 Singles of the Year 2007". BBC. MMIX. Retrieved 2007-12-30. 
  19. ^ a b Reid, Shaheem (2007-06-20). "Kanye West's 'Stronger' Video: Japanese Motorcycle Gangs, Mad Scientists — And Cassie". MTV. MTV Networks. Retrieved 2007-08-27. 
  20. ^ a b "Kanye West Music Video Inspired by Akira". Anime News Network. Anime News Network. 2007-07-07. Retrieved 2007-08-27. 
  21. ^ "The Scoop on Kanye West's Sunglasses". People. Time Inc. 2007-06-05. Retrieved 2007-10-10. 
  22. ^ Adaso, Henry (2007). "2007 BET Hip-Hop Awards – Winners". About.com. About.com, a part of The New York Times Company. Retrieved 2007-12-13. 
  23. ^ Nero, Mark Edward (2007-09-20). "2007 MOBO Award Winners". About.com. About.com, a part of The New York Times Company. Retrieved 2007-11-19. 
  24. ^ BBC - Radio 1 - Jo Whiley
  25. ^ Q&A: Time for Three Mixes Classic With New | Art Beat | PBS NewsHour | PBS
  26. ^ "Australian-charts.com – Kanye West – Stronger". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Retrieved 18 October 2013.
  27. ^ "Kanye West – Stronger – Austriancharts.at" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved 18 October 2013.
  28. ^ "Kanye West Album & Song Chart History" Canadian Hot 100 for Kanye West. Retrieved 18 October 2013.
  29. ^ "ČNS IFPI" (in Czech). Hitparáda – Radio Top 100 Oficiální. IFPI Czech Republic. Note: insert {{{year}}}{{{week}}} into search. Retrieved 18 October 2013.
  30. ^ "Danishcharts.com – Kanye West – Stronger". Tracklisten. Retrieved 18 October 2013.
  31. ^ "European Hot 100 Singles – Stronger". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 2007-09-08. Retrieved 2007-09-08. [dead link]
  32. ^ "Kanye West: Stronger" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland. Retrieved 18 October 2013.
  33. ^ "Lescharts.com – Kanye West – Stronger" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved 18 October 2013.
  34. ^ "Die ganze Musik im Internet: Charts, News, Neuerscheinungen, Tickets, Genres, Genresuche, Genrelexikon, Künstler-Suche, Musik-Suche, Track-Suche, Ticket-Suche – musicline.de" (in German). Media Control Charts. PhonoNet GmbH. Retrieved 18 October 2013.
  35. ^ "Chart Track". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved 18 October 2013.
  36. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Kanye West search results" (in Dutch) Dutch Top 40. Retrieved 18 October 2013.
  37. ^ "Charts.org.nz – Kanye West – Stronger". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved 18 October 2013.
  38. ^ "Norwegiancharts.com – Kanye West – Stronger". VG-lista. Retrieved 18 October 2013.
  39. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – Kanye West – Stronger". Singles Top 60. Retrieved 18 October 2013.
  40. ^ "Kanye West – Stronger – swisscharts.com". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved 18 October 2013.
  41. ^ "Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs – Stronger". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 2007-11-10. Retrieved 2007-11-10. [dead link]
  42. ^ "Hot Rap Tracks – Stronger". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 2007-12-15. Retrieved 2007-12-15. [dead link]
  43. ^ http://www.billboard.com/artist/276709/kanye+west/chart?f=381
  44. ^ "Billboard Hot 100 Year-End 2007". Billboard Magazine. Retrieved 2012-03-31. 
  45. ^ "Canadian Hot 100 Year-End 2008". Billboard Magazine. Retrieved 2012-03-31. 
  46. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 2008 Singles". Australian Recording Industry Association. 
  47. ^ "New Zealand single certifications – Kanye West – Stronger". Recording Industry Association of New Zealand. Retrieved 2007-11-26. 
  48. ^ "American single certifications – West, Kanye – Stronger". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 2012-05-17.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH

External links[edit]