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Track Review

It's pretty much impossible to listen to Kelly Clarkson's "Mr. Know It All" without immediately thinking about Bruno Mars' smash hit " Just the Way You Are." So similar are the chord progressions in these two tunes' keyboard-driven choruses that you can easily sing Bruno's lyrics over the top of Kelly's if you're of a mind to do so.

In that respect, the first single from Kelly's fifth album, Stronger, is a bit of a departure. Her husky, smoky, determined voice is familiar, of course. But the trappings that surround it—neo-soul beats instead of snarly, punky guitar chords—are an altogether different pop milieu for Ms. Clarkson.

"We picked 'Mr. Know It All' because it was unlike any other song that we've ever come out with," Kelly said during a livestream.com chat that coincided with the single's release. "Usually we go with an anthem, guitar-driven song. This is very different, and I was really into it. It's just super sassy and sets up the album nicely. The whole theme is very empowering."

Sassy and empowering are words that do indeed capture the feisty vibe of Kelly's latest hit. If the sound has changed, the message and attitude from the girl who brought us "Since U Been Gone" certainly have not.

"Oh you think that you know me, know me," she tells her newly minted ex-boyfriend in the chorus. "That's why I'm leaving you lonely, lonely/'Cause baby you don't know a thing about me."

The balance of this blow-off-the-boy song chronicles the ways Kelly's better off without her deceptive, possessive and arrogant former beau. "Mr. Know It All/ … Mr. Play Your Games/Only got yourself to blame," she tells him. "'Cause I'm living my truth without your lies/Let's be clear, baby, this is goodbye/I ain't coming back tomorrow."

"I love being sassy, having overall attitude," Kelly said in the Livestream chat. "Raining on boys' parades."

There are plenty of thundershowers here. But it sounds like this guy had it comin'. And walking away, umbrella firmly in hand, seems like the most positive thing a girl could do.

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Debuted at No. 18.

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August 30, 2011

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Adam R. Holz

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