Stronger (Britney Spears song)
|Single by Britney Spears|
|from the album Oops!... I Did It Again|
|B-side||"Walk on By"|
|Released||November 13, 2000|
|Recorded||November 1999; Cheiron Studios (Stockholm, Sweden)|
|Britney Spears singles chronology|
"Stronger" is a song recorded by American singer Britney Spears for her second studio album, Oops!... I Did It Again (2000). It was released on November 13, 2000, by Jive Records as the third single of the album. After meeting with producers Max Martin and Rami in Sweden, the singer recorded several songs for the album, including "Stronger". The teen pop and dance-pop song has self-empowerment lyrics about a girl who is tired of her cheating boyfriend and decides to live without him. It received acclaim from music critics, who described the song as both musically and lyrically innovative and considered it the best dance track from the album.
"Stronger" achieved commercial success worldwide, reaching the top five in Austria, Germany and Sweden, while reaching the top ten in Finland, Ireland, Switzerland and United Kingdom. "Stronger" peaked at number eleven in the United States' Billboard Hot 100, and was later certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), for selling over 500,000 units of the single. An accompanying music video was directed by Joseph Kahn, who considered it as a thematic departure from Spears' previous music videos. The music video received a nomination on the 2001 MTV Video Music Awards for Best Pop Video.
Spears has performed "Stronger" in a number of live appearances, including at the Radio Music Awards of 2000, American Music Awards of 2001, a Fox special titled There's No Place Like Home, and in two of her concert tours. It was first performed on the Oops!... I Did It Again World Tour (2000–2001), as the first song from the show and at the Dream Within a Dream Tour (2001–2002). Also, in 2013 Spears performed the song for the first time in eleven years on her Las Vegas residency concert Britney: Piece of Me. In 2010, "Stronger" was covered by actor Kevin McHale for an episode of TV series Glee titled "Britney/Brittany". The cover received positive reviews from contemporary music critics.
Background and composition
In 1999 Spears began work on her second studio album Oops!...I Did It Again (2000), in Sweden and Switzerland. After meeting with Max Martin and Rami Yacoub in Sweden, Spears recorded several songs for the album, including "Stronger", which was co-written and co-produced by Martin and Rami. Upon returning to the United States, the singer revealed in an interview with MTV News that: "I just got back from Sweden, and did half [of] the material [for Oops!] over there. I was really, really happy with the material, but we had [such] limited time to get so much done. So I've just really been in the studio nonstop, which is cool, though." Spears recorded her vocals for the song in November 1999 at Cheiron Studios in Stockholm, Sweden. "Stronger" was released on November 13, 2000 as the third single from the album.
"Stronger" is a teen pop and dance-pop song that features a heavy dance beat, and lasts 3 minutes and 23 seconds. According to the digital music sheet published at Musicnotes.com, the song is composed in the key of G-sharp minor and is set in time signature of common time with a tempo of 108 beats per minute, while Spears vocal range spans from C♯3 to C♯5. Music critics noticed the song as Spears' declaration of independence, which is perceived in self-empowerment lines such as "I'm not your property" and "I don't need nobody". Its lyrics also quote Spears' iconic debut hit "...Baby One More Time", which was also co-written and produced for Spears by Martin and Yacoub and released two years earlier; the latter's famous chorus, "My loneliness is killing me", is answered in "Stronger" with the lyric, "My loneliness ain't killin' me no more". Despite not being written by the singer, it was speculated that the song is directed to the singer's record label and her management. In a review for the album, David Browne of Entertainment Weekly noted that "Stronger" together with "Don't Go Knockin' on My Door" is reminiscent of the Rolling Stones' "The Last Time" (1965).
"Stronger" was lauded by music critics. Stephanie McGrath of Jam! considered the song "the best dance track" of Oops!, deeming the song "every bit as good as *Nsync's 'Bye, Bye, Bye' or The Backstreet Boys' 'The One'." Tracy E. Hopkins of Barnes & Noble, while reviewing the album, said, "Spears shines on the tongue-in-cheek lead single, the triumphant 'Stronger'..." David Veitch of the Calgary Sun considered "Stronger" to be as "another boom-bastic upbeat track", while saying the song is "notable for its foghorn synth, fabulous rhythm track and heavy effects applied to Britney's voice. Why she's panting at the end of the bridge is anybody's guess." A review by the NME staff compared "Stronger" to songs recorded by ABBA, saying, "there's the deranged helium synth pop of 'Stronger' with the huge ABBA chord change in the chorus that sounds scarier and more robotic than the Backstreet Boys." Andy Battaglia from Salon said "Stronger" "could crush the entire self-help industry with its melody alone." Digital Spy's Alim Kheraj pointed out the "deeper element of defiance embedded both within the lyrics and the epic chord progressions".
Writing for Pink News, Mayer Nissim deemed it "a perfect pop masterpiece". For Alex Macpherson from The Guardian, it's one of the best examples of Spears' "distressing vulnerability" as well as her second best song; "for the first but by no means last time, Britney embraces the inhuman qualities of her strange, hiccupping voice with vocals distorted and ground up against the beat". Shannon Barbour from Cosmopolitan opined that it was "proof that Empowered Britney is the best Britney". Similarly, Gay Times' Daniel Megarry called it "an empowering gay club favourite". Entertainment Weekly ranked it at number 14 on their ranking of Spears' songs; "['Stronger'] foretold the future, both lyrically (she vowed to do things 'my way') and sonically (the stormy electronic touches hinted at a shift in her Scandi-pop sound). Today, it’s the theme song for her resilience". Rolling Stone hailed it "a dance pop anthem of self-empowerment that is both obviously autobiographical and highly relatable to anyone eager to define themselves as a young adult". Caryn Ganz from Spin said that "Britney’s first self-empowerment anthem is still her best: a strutting finger-wagger that’s somehow also a fist-pumper".
In the United States, "Stronger" peaked at number 11 on the Billboard Hot 100 on the date of January 27, 2001, after entering the top 40 at number 29 on December 30, 2000. It also peaked at number 17 on the Top 40 Mainstream chart. It was also certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). "Stronger" also peaked at number two on the Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales component chart, and number 37 on Rhythmic Top 40. As of June 2012, "Stronger" has sold 415,000 physical units, with 270,000 paid digital downloads in the United States. It is Spears' third best-selling physical single in the country.
"Stronger" also achieved commercial success worldwide, reaching number one in Mexico and was the number one best-selling single in 2001, and reaching number four in Austria and Sweden, six in Ireland and Switzerland, and eight in Finland, while reaching the top 20 in several European countries. On the week of December 16, 2000, "Stronger" debuted at number seven in The Official Charts Company from the United Kingdom, falling to number 11 in the following week. In Australia, the song peaked at number 13, and was later certified Platinum by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA), for shipments of more than 70,000 units of the single. In France, "Stronger" reached number 20, making it the lowest chart position for the song worldwide. However, it was certified Silver by the Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique (SNEP), for selling over 125,000 units of the single. In Germany, the song reached number four on the Media Control Charts, being certified Gold by the Bundesverband Musikindustrie (BVMI) for shipping over 250,000 units of the single.
The music video for the song was shot on October 5-7, 2000 at Syncro Aviation Hangar at Van Nuys Airport, Los Angeles, and directed by Joseph Kahn. Kahn revealed that the concept for the music video was created by Spears herself, by saying "I would like to dance in a chair and drive in a car and break up with [my] boyfriend. [...] Those are your three elements." Kahn ended up creating, according to Jocelyn Vena of MTV, "a semi-futuristic world in which Spears walks into a club, breaks up with her cheating boyfriend and triumphantly walks in the rain, knowing her life is better off without him." Kahn also considered the music video as very sophisticated, saying that it is "definitely a departure from the sort of candy-colored videos she was doing before, so I always thought this was the transition between Britney the teenage pop star and Britney the sort of diva she became." An alternate footage of the video can be found on the DVD of Spears first compilation album Greatest Hits: My Prerogative.
Kahn revealed that Spears' referenced Janet Jackson's "The Pleasure Principle" and "Miss You Much" music videos for the video's chair routine, saying her idea was inspired by "Janet Jackson's 'Pleasure Principle' — the iconic chair sequence in that". A review of the video also commented "Ms. Spears gives us her best Janet Jackson impression (“Miss You Much“) with a dizzying chair-dance routine." Spears also referenced and draws inspiration from Jackson in several other music videos, including "Don't Let Me Be the Last to Know". "Overprotected (Darkchild Remix)", "Circus", and "Womanizer".
The video begins with a closed caption that reads "Britney Spears – Stronger", amidst the sound of a storm. It then cuts to a close up of Spears looking at her boyfriend, who is smiling with another woman holding him. She realizes she is better without him and walks away, after saying, "Whatever," to the audience. There is a shot of the tower hotel they were in, in an apparent semi-futuristic world, having a party in the restaurant in the hotel tower at the top, and then the hotel tower explodes and blows up. At the beginning of the first chorus, Spears starts dancing with an Emeco 1006-style chair in front of a black background. The second half of the video finds Spears driving away from the party in a classic Ford Mustang car during a thunderstorm; however, before long, her car goes into a spin out, then stops on the very edge of the bridge. After recovering from the shock of it, she's forced to continue walking on in the rain. Cuts of her dancing with a cane, transformed from the chair, are also included. The video ends with Spears walking across a bridge. Two versions of the video exist, one in which at the end of video, Spears stands in mid-air above the spinning chair, and in the other a close up of her singing. Nuzhat Naoreen of MTV praised the music video, saying, "few performers can work an entire routine on and around a chair as well as Britney did in 'Stronger'". The music video received a nomination on the 2001 MTV Video Music Awards for Best Pop Video.
Live performances and covers
Britney performed "Stronger" for the first time during her Oops!... I Did It Again World Tour in Columbia, U.S.A at June 20, 2000. The show began with the video introduction "The Britney Spears Experience", in which three images of Spears welcomed spectators to the show. Then, a giant metal orb was lowered onstage and lifted again to reveal Spears standing behind it. Wearing a glittery jeans and an orange halter top, she opened the show with a dance-oriented performance of the song. "Stronger" was last performed on 2002's Dream Within a Dream Tour. After a dance-oriented performance of "Boys", Spears performed the song, in which she wore a paint-covered robe and in some shows a bowler hat. Spears also performed the song on several television appearances, including on the American Music Awards of 2001, and on a MTV special titled "Total Britney Live". A Fox special titled "Britney In Hawaii", aired on June 8, 2000, included an exclusive performance of the song. A performance of "Stronger" live from Germany was broadcast on Radio Music Awards of 2000, since Spears was on tour by the time of the awards. "Stronger" was not included on the set lists of any of Spears' tours until it was included in her Las Vegas residency show Britney: Piece of Me.
"Stronger" was covered by Kevin McHale on TV series Glee, on an episode titled "Britney/Brittany", that was dedicated to the singer. In the episode, McHale's character Artie has a hallucination of himself singing "Stronger" during a dental visit. The cover received positive reviews from contemporary music critics. Raymund Flandez of The Wall Street Journal enjoyed the cover version, appreciating the twist of having males sing a feminist empowerment song, while Tim Stack of Entertainment Weekly deemed "Stronger" his favorite performance of the episode, as well as the best incorporation of Spears' music, as the song served Artie's storyline.
Credits and personnel
- Britney Spears – lead vocals, background vocals
- Max Martin – production, songwriting, audio mixing, keyboards, programming, background vocals
- Rami Yacoub – production, songwriting, keyboards
- Nana Hedin – background vocals
- John Amatiello – Pro Tools engineering
- Steve Lunt - A&R
- Tom Coyne – audio mastering
|Denmark (IFPI Denmark)||Gold||4,000^|
|New Zealand (RMNZ)||Gold||5,000*|
|United Kingdom (BPI)||Silver||200,000^|
|United States (RIAA)||Gold||500,000^|
^shipments figures based on certification alone
|Germany||November 13, 2000||CD single|||
|France||November 21, 2000|||
|Japan||December 6, 2000|||
|United States||December 12, 2000||CD single (The Remixes)|||
|January 2, 2001||CD single|||
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