Stronger with Each Tear

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Stronger with Each Tear
Studio album by Mary J. Blige
Released December 18, 2009 (2009-12-18)
(see release history)
Recorded 2008–2009
Genre R&B, hip hop soul
Length 48:19
Label Matriarch, Geffen
Producer Mary J. Blige (Executive)
Darkchild, Polow Da Don, Bryan-Michael Cox, Raphael Saadiq, Stargate, Ryan Leslie, Supa Dups, Konvict Music, The Runners, Stereotypes, Ne-Yo, Tricky Stewart, The-Dream, D'Mile, Ron Fair
Mary J. Blige chronology
Growing Pains
(2007)
Stronger with Each Tear
(2009)
My Life II... The Journey Continues (Act 1)
(2011)
Alternative covers
International artwork.
Singles from Stronger with Each Tear
  1. "The One"
    Released: July 21, 2009
  2. "Stronger"
    Released: August 18, 2009
  3. "I Am"
    Released: December 8, 2009
  4. "Each Tear"
    Released: February 26, 2010
  5. "We Got Hood Love"
    Released: March 30, 2010

Stronger with Each Tear (stylized as Stronger withEach Tear) is the ninth studio album from American R&B and soul singer Mary J. Blige.[1] The album was released in the US on December 21, 2009, under Blige's own imprint, Matriarch Records.[2]

Internationally it was released December 18, 2009, in Australia and Germany, December 21 in France, December 23 in Japan, and on February 2, 2010, in Korea with further international releases (in some cases re-releases) in March, April and May 2010. With this album, Blige achieved a record of nine albums to have debuted at the top of the US R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.

Background[edit]

Blige started working on her ninth album while she toured with Robin Thicke in 2008. In an interview with Rap-Up magazine she said:

The album represents who and what I am right now. I’m a stronger human being after all the growing pains. It’s about life, love, change, strength—mostly really knowing who you are and being confident in that[3]

The album was initially titled Stronger after the song, "Stronger" which Blige recorded and released as the lead single from the soundtrack Music Inspired by More Than a Game from the LeBron James' documentary More Than a Game.[4] However Rap-Up later revealed that the album had been re-titled Stronger with Each Tear.[1]

The album has production and writing credits from Ryan Leslie, Darkchild and Johntá Austin. Also included are several guests like the Canadian rapper Drake who appears on the first single "The One", rapper T.I. who appears on "Good Love" which was initially planned as the second single[5] and Trey Songz himself revealed that he had recorded a duet called "Hood Love" with Blige for the album.[6] The song was previously recorded by Austin and Blige for Austin's first solo album that was never released. The song has since been reworked and re-titled "We Got Hood Love". Following the album's release in the US, the song charted at 82 on the Hot R&B/Hip Hop Songs chart due to strong digital downloads.[7] The album track "I Feel Good" entered the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart at number 83 on the issue dated February 6, 2010, and on the issue dated March 6, 2010, it reached a peak of number 68.[8] whilst "Good Love" featuring T.I. entered the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart at number 59[8] and was on the charts for around eleven weeks with a peak of 58.[9]

Australian media outlets revealed that the international version of the album would be released with an altered track listing. The new version of the album had a duet version of the song "Each Tear" with the Australian artist Vanessa Amorosi.[10] There are also four other versions of the track performed by the Italian singer Tiziano Ferro and the UK singer Jay Sean, Rea Garvey and K'naan.[11] According to HMV, it would also include cover versions of the Led Zeppelin song "Stairway to Heaven", "Whole Lotta Love" and the song "Stronger" from the soundtrack More Than a Game.[12][13] The international version of the album does not include "Said and Done", "We Got Hood Love" and "Kitchen".

Release and promotion[edit]

The album was originally scheduled for US release on November 24, 2009[14] but this was pushed back to December 15, 2009[15] which would have put Blige's album in a chart battle with Alicia Keys' album The Element of Freedom. The album was pushed back once more to December 21, 2009.

After a number of appearances to promote the song "Stronger" for the soundtrack Music Inspired by More Than a Game, Blige formally began the album's promotion in America by premiering the second single "I Am" at the American Music Awards (2009). The following day she appeared on the Lopez Tonight show for an interview and encore performance of "I Am".[16] Blige also appeared on The Jay Leno Show, The Today Show, and was also on a special shown on BET named Words & Sounds With Mary J. Blige. She was on a taping of The View.[17] On April 21, 2010 Blige appeared on American Idol's charity telethon, Idol Gives Back to perform her cover of Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven" with Orianthi and Randy Jackson on guitars.[18]

On April 13, 2010, Blige appeared on an episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show where she performed "Each Tear" and her version of the "Stairway to Heaven", which appears on the Stronger with Each Tear international edition and on iTunes as a digital single.

Singles[edit]

  • "I Am" which was written by Blige, Johntá Austin and Ester Dean with music produced by Stargate, was released as the first international single (second in the US) in December 2009.[20] It debuted on the Hot R&B/Hip Hop Songs chart at number forty-six prior to its full release and peaked at number four upon release. It debuted on Japan's Oricon chart at number 92 and peaked at number 11 on that chart,[21] while also debuting on the Hot 100 at sixty-seven and peaking at number fifty-five. It was also the international lead single from the album.
  • "Each Tear" was released as the second international single from the album in February 2010. There are different versions of the song. For Australia, it features the singer-songwriter Vanessa Amorosi; for Italy, Tiziano Ferro; for the UK, Jay Sean; for Germany, Rea Garvey and for Canada, K'naan. Marcus Raboy filmed a video which was then edited to show each of the guests in versions for their respective markets. It peaked at number one in Italy and number 183 in the UK, while failing to chart elsewhere. The single was not released in the United States.
  • "We Got Hood Love" featuring Trey Songz was released as the third US single from the album on March 30, 2010.[22] The song debuted at number eighty-two on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart following the album’s release due to strong digital downloads and radio airplay.[8] A video was filmed with Mary J. Blige and football player George Wilson in Miami,[23] while Trey Songz filmed his scenes in a New York City apartment.[24] Chris Robinson directed the video for the single[25] with a planned May 10, 2010 premiere through Vevo,[26] though it actually appeared on Rap-Up on May 6, 2010.[27]
Other songs

Reception[edit]

Commercial performance[edit]

The album debuted at number two on the US Billboard 200 chart with first-week sales of 332,000 copies. It also went to number one on the R&B chart.[30][31] Blige is the ninth woman in SoundScan's 18-year history to see at least three albums all debut with an opening sales week of 300,000 or more.[32] Stronger with Each Tear had sold 726,100 copies in the United States by April 2010,[33] and was certified Gold by the RIAA on January 6, 2011.

In the UK, it debuted at number 33 on the main albums chart in its first week[34] but dropped out of the top forty on its second week.[35] On the UK R&B Chart it debuted at number four[36] and fell nine places to number 13 in its second week.[37]

Critical response[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3.5/5 stars[38]
The Boston Globe (favorable)[39]
Chicago Tribune 3/4 stars[40]
Entertainment Weekly B[41]
Los Angeles Times 3/4 stars[42]
The New York Times (favorable)[43]
Rolling Stone 3.5/5 stars[44]
Slant Magazine 2.5/5 stars[45]
Spin (6/10)[46][47]
USA Today 3/4 stars[48]

Reviewers' response to the album was mostly positive, currently[when?] holding a score of 75 (out of 100) on music review aggregation website Metacritic.[47] Andy Kellman from Allmusic said "Stronger with Each Tear is a very good Blige album, if not quite a classic. One of her briefest sets, it is tremendously (almost studiously) balanced between all the ground she has covered so well before. That’s no criticism, though, since most of the songs are easily memorable and display so much range. Those who detest “The One” on principle, for its use of Auto-Tune, need only to forward to the album’s final song, a quiet and sparse throwback (to 40-plus years ago) production from Raphael Saadiq in which Blige professes new love to chilling effect."[38] Mikael Wood from Spin magazine also liked the album saying "Mary J. Blige has spent the past decade effecting a slow transformation from R&B's queen of pain to the closest thing the genre counts to Oprah Winfrey. Judging by the titles on Blige's latest, that transformation is almost complete: 'Good Love,' 'I Feel Good,' 'I Love U (Yes I Du).' It's hard to believe this is the same woman who once felt the need to announce she was done with drama. Yet despite the conviction that those track names suggest—and despite solid writing and production contributions from A-listers [...] it feels less vital than 2005's terrific The Breakthrough or 2007's Growing Pains [...] The result is minor Mary—strong by many standards, a bit tepid by hers."[46] In his Consumer Guide, Robert Christgau gave the album (though shortened to just Stronger) a three-star honorable mention ((3-star Honorable Mention)) while stating it as "Plainspoken [sic], low-drama, midtempo love vows, with attempted glamour relegated to the cover shoot", and selected two songs from the album, "Tonight" and "I Am", as his best picks.[49]

Track listing[edit]

Original release[edit]

Standard track listing
No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s) Length
1. "Tonight"   Mary J. Blige, Aliaune Thiam, Edwin Birdsong, A. Harr, J. Jackson, Kevin Cossom The Runners, Konvict Muzik 4:00
2. "The One" (featuring Drake) Blige, Aubrey Graham, Ester Dean, Rodney Jerkins Darkchild 3:14
3. "Said and Done"   Blige, Ryan Leslie Ryan Leslie 3:23
4. "Good Love" (featuring T.I.) Shaffer Smith, J. Reeves, R. Romulus, J. Yip Stereotypes, Ne-Yo 4:01
5. "I Feel Good"   Smith, Tor Erik Hermansen, Mikkel Eriksen Stargate, Ne-Yo 3:47
6. "I Am"   Blige, Johntá Austin, E. Dean, Hermansen, Eriksen Stargate 3:23
7. "Each Tear"   Blige, Mitchum Chin, Dwayne Chin-Quee Supa Dups 4:15
8. "I Love U (Yes I Du)"   Blige, Jamal Jones, E. Dean, D. Reed, D. Level, B. Williams Polow Da Don 3:23
9. "We Got Hood Love" (featuring Trey Songz) Blige, Bryan-Michael Cox, Kendrick Dean, Austin Bryan-Michael Cox, WyldCard 4:15
10. "Kitchen"   Blige, Terius Nash Tricky Stewart, The-Dream 4:31
11. "In the Morning"   Blige, Anesha Birchett, Antea Birchett D'Mile, Ron Fair 4:36
12. "Color" (from the motion picture Precious) Blige, Raphael Saadiq, LaNeah Menzies Raphael Saadiq 5:31

International release[edit]

International edition[54]
No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s) Length
1. "Whole Lotta Love"   Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Bonham, John Paul Jones, Willie Dixon RedOne, Ron Fair 3:34
2. "Tonight"   Blige, Thiam, Birdsong, Harr, Jackson, Cossom The Runners, Konvict Muzik 4:00
3. "The One" (featuring Drake) Blige, Graham, Ester Dean, Jerkins Darkchild 3:14
4. "I Can't Wait" (featuring will.i.am) Blige, William Adams will.i.am 4:25
5. "Good Love" (featuring T.I.) Smith, Reeves, Romulus, Yip Stereotypes, Ne-Yo 4:01
6. "I Feel Good"   Smith, Hermansen, Eriksen StarGate, Ne-Yo 3:47
7. "I Am"   Blige, Austin, E. Dean, Hermansen, Eriksen StarGate 3:23
8. "Each Tear^" (featuring Jay Sean) Blige, Chin, Chin-Quee Supa Dups 4:32
9. "I Love U (Yes I Du)"   Blige, Jones, E. Dean, Reed, Level, Williams Polow Da Don 3:23
10. "City on Fire"   Jeff Bhasker, Pat Reynolds, Blige Jeff Bhasker, Pat Reynolds 3:34
11. "Stronger" (from motion picture More Than a Game) E. Dean, Chris Brown, Chauncy Hollis, K. Hilson, Jamal Jones, D. Dalton Polow da Don, Hit-Boy 4:09
12. "In the Morning"   Blige, Anesha Birchett, Antea Birchett D'Mile, Ron Fair 4:36
13. "Color" (from the motion picture Precious) Blige, Saadiq, Menzies Raphael Saadiq 5:31
14. "Stairway to Heaven" (featuring Travis Barker, Randy Jackson, Steve Vai and Orianthi) Jimmy Page, Robert Plant Ron Fair, Tal Herzberg 8:44
15. "I Am" (Dave Audé Remix) Blige, Austin, E. Dean, Hermansen, Eriksen Dave Audé 6:28
Notes

^ The international version of the album is the same as the UK version.

Personnel[edit]

Charts[edit]

Chart (2009/10) Peak
position
Canadian Albums Chart[55] 42
Dutch Albums Chart[56] 89
Greek Albums Chart[57] 20
Italian Albums Chart[58] 18
Swedish Albums Chart[59] 38
Swiss Albums Chart[60] 66
UK Albums Chart[34] 33
UK R&B Albums Chart[36] 4
US Billboard 200[9] 2
US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums[9] 1

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (2010) Position
US Billboard 200 24[61]

Chart procession and succession[edit]

Preceded by
The Element of Freedom by Alicia Keys
Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums number-one album
January 2, 2010
Succeeded by
The Element of Freedom by Alicia Keys

Awards[edit]

Year Region Award Category Result
2010 United States NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Album[62] Won

Release history[edit]

Original release[edit]

Country Date Format Label Catalog
Australia[63] December 18, 2009 CD, digital download Universal Music 2725654
Germany[64] 0602527256542
Italy[58] 060252725654
Greece[57]
Sweden[65]
Netherlands[56]
Switzerland[60]
France[66] December 21, 2009 Barclay Records
United States[67] Matriarch Records 602527256542
Japan[68] December 23, 2009 CD Universal Music UICF9065
Korea[69] February 2, 2010 DF6424
Brazil[70] Digital download

Reissue release[edit]

Country Date Format Label Catalog
Germany [71] March 15, 2010 CD, digital download Universal Music 060252731839
Italy[51] March 19, 2010
Greece[57]
Sweden[59]
Netherlands[56]
Switzerland[60]
United Kingdom[72] March 22, 2010 Polydor Records 2725654
France[73][74] Barclay Records 060252731839
Australia[75] March 23, 2010 International re-release Universal Music
Canada[76] April 13, 2010 CD, Digital download Geffen Records
Brazil[77] April 20, 2010 CD Universal Music 602527318394
Australia[78] April 23, 2010 Australian re-release 2736019
Japan[79] May 12, 2010 CD, Digital download UICF1125

References[edit]

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