Rabu, 26 Oktober 2011

The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

'The X Factor' opens up voting to Twitter

Posted: 26 Oct 2011 06:26 PM PDT

LOS ANGELES: In a first-ever move for television, Fox's new singing competition ''The X Factor'' is opening up its voting process to Twitter, the network announced Tuesday.

Immediately following the live performance show on Nov. 2, fans will be able to register their votes by visiting the show's Twitter page and following @TheXFactorUSA.com.

Viewers can then vote via private Direct Message. (Tweets themselves will not count as votes.) Much like in the sacred tradition of American democracy, votes will not be visible to the public.

In addition to Twitter votes, the show will enable fans to make their choice known through the Xtra Factor App on Verizon Android devices; toll-free calling; text message (for Verizon Wireless customers, anyway); at the show's Web site; and via Facebook, at the ''X Factor'' Facebook page.

Twitter voting and online voting will be limited to 50 votes per account user ID - so, y'know, there's no chance of fans stuffing the ballot box or anything.

''I think it's fantastic that Verizon and 'The X Factor' are giving fans so many different ways to vote,'' ''X Factor'' executive producer and judge Simon Cowell said of the expanded voting options.

''Launching touch screen voting on Verizon's The Xtra Factor App and the new voting on Twitter is really exciting, I love that the audience has more and more choice in the way that they can vote.''

The Twitter communication will go both ways, with judges blasting tweets about new developments on the show, and Twitter data being broadcast on-air for viewers who prefer to watch the show through the antiquated technology of television.

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The Star Online: Business

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The Star Online: Business

Australia's Woolworths says shoppers to stay uncertain

Posted: 26 Oct 2011 05:25 PM PDT

Published: Thursday October 27, 2011 MYT 8:25:00 AM

SYDNEY Oct 27 (Reuters) Woolworths Ltd , Australia's largest supermarket chain, expects shoppers to remain uncertain beyond Christmas and into the New Year, new Chief Executive Grant O'Brien said on Thursday. O'Brien made the comments on a call with analysts and media.

Woolworths earlier posted a 1.9 percent rise in firstquarter comparable store sales in Australian food and liquor, missing expectations, and said the retail sector continued to be hurt by lack of consumer confidence.

On Wednesday, Wesfarmers , Australia's No.2 supermarkets owner, said it expects consumer spending to remain weak even if Australia's central bank cuts rates next week after a benign inflation reading.

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Toyota says to suspend some N.America production on Oct. 29

Posted: 26 Oct 2011 05:22 PM PDT

TOKYO Oct 27 (Reuters) Toyota Corp said on Thursday that it would cut production in North America after flooding in Thailand interrupted auto part supplies.

To conserve parts, Toyota said it would suspend production on Oct. 29 in Indiana, Kentucky and an engine production facility in West Virginia, as well as two plants in Ontario, Canada.

About 1,800 Japanese manufacturers operate in Thailand and several of them, including Toyota, Canon Inc , Pioneer and Sony Corp , have suffered flood damage to plants or supply snags.

Toyota had scheduled Saturday production to catch up on output after it was forced to cut back due to supply chain disruptions in the wake of Japan's March earthquake and tsunami.

The floods in Thailand have disrupted the supply of about 100 auto parts, and Toyota plans to review production for each model by the end of this week, the Nikkei business daily earlier said.

Toyota's inventories of chips for meters and electronic parts for car navigation and audio systems have been running low, the newspaper said.

Toyota's shares were up 1.5 percent at 2,566 yen in early morning trade, outperforming a 0.5 percent rise in the benchmark Nikkei average .

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Insight: Anatomy of a costly biotech deal for Olympus

Posted: 26 Oct 2011 05:17 PM PDT

TOKYO (Reuters) - Soon after paying a record-setting fee to close a now-controversial takeover in the spring of 2010, Japanese camera and endoscope maker Olympus Corp was back out shopping for another deal.

Once again, it turned to a New York-based advisory firm outside the dealmaking mainstream and once again the Japanese company ended up paying an out-sized amount to complete a tangled deal that has come under scrutiny, internal company documents show.

Olympus agreed in December last year to buy the rights to a biotech remedy intended to help regenerate human bone from medical device maker Stryker Corp for $60 million.

But the documents reviewed by Reuters show that the deal may end up costing the Japanese firm around 50 percent more, thanks to payments made to its adviser.

Olympus made a $25 million loan to Viscogliosi Brothers, the firm that advised it on the transaction and expects it will need to write off most of that amount, according to the documents.

The Japanese company also paid a higher-than-normal $5 million transaction fee to Viscogliosi Brothers and agreed to reimburse $4.4 million in expenses, the documents show. The fees for advisers are typically 2 percent to 3 percent for deals of this size.

Richard Torrenzano, a spokesman for Viscogliosi Brothers, said the firm could not discuss the deal under terms imposed by Olympus.

"Unfortunately, we are bound by a confidentiality agreement with Olympus and cannot comment on any aspect of the deal," he said.

Olympus declined to comment, as did Stryker spokesman Aaron Kwittke.

A string of troubled acquisitions by Olympus has cost the company more than $1.2 billion in charges and write-offs, led to the resignation of Chairman Tsuyoshi Kikukawa and forced the company to appoint a panel to investigate in the face of a plunging share price.

The 2010 biotech deal is small by comparison to some of Olympus' other deals. But like those acquisitions it was challenged by former Olympus CEO Michael Woodford and could raise questions about the company's governance and management.

Woodford, 51, has said he was fired in a boardroom coup at Olympus for questioning a $687 million payment to advisers in the $2.2 billion takeover of medical equipment maker Gyrus in 2008.

The FBI is investigating the massive advisory fee and Woodford has called on authorities in Japan and Britain to launch investigations of their own. Sources have told Reuters that Japan's securities watchdog was looking into past Olympus takeover deals.

Olympus documents provided to Reuters by Woodford show that the former CEO raised questions about the Stryker acquisition and the role of advisers in that deal as well.

"I'm still unclear as to the role played by Viscogliosi Brothers in the transaction and the basis upon which the loan was originally made," Woodford said in a September 23 memo to Olympus Executive Vice President Hisashi Mori.

The documents reviewed by Reuters also include contractual agreements between Olympus and Viscogliosi Brothers signed in April and November of 2010, an April 2010 letter of intent between Stryker and Viscogliosi Brothers, and an August 31, 2011 internal Olympus presentation related to the deal.


Olympus has described its acquisitions as a way to diversify from its major markets in optical equipment including cameras and the endoscopes that surgeons now rely on for less invasive surgeries.

On December 7, 2010, Olympus announced in a news release that it had formed a new unit, Olympus Biotech. At the same time, it announced that the unit had acquired a line of bone growth therapies from Stryker that would be part of its stepped-up push into biotechnology.

The Stryker assets that Olympus acquired, including a Lebanon, New Hampshire plant, weren't unencumbered.

In August 2010, Kalamazoo, Michigan-based Stryker agreed to pay $1.35 million to settle claims by Massachusetts prosecutors that the company marketed its bone growth products for uses that had not been cleared by federal regulators.

The products known as OP-1 are based on a naturally occurring protein used to stimulate bone growth. Stryker Biotech only had U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for the product under the humanitarian device exemption, which limits the number of units that can be sold and typically prohibits the company from making a profit.

The Olympus news release did not mention the advisory role that Viscogliosi Brothers had played in the deal or payments to the firm.

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The Star Online: Sports

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The Star Online: Sports

Ismail willing to sacrifice for good of the team

Posted: 26 Oct 2011 04:54 PM PDT

KUALA TERENGGANU: Terengganu's Ismail Faruqi is prepared to start from the bench in the Malaysia Cup final against Negri Sembilan at the Shah Alam Stadium on Saturday – for the good of the team.

The Turtles midfielder rubbished rumours that he was unhappy after being benched in both legs of the semi-finals against Selangor to make way for rising star Ahmad Nordin Alias.

Super-sub Ahmad Nordin was the hero for Terengganu when he scored the winning goal against Kelantan in the FA Cup final in June.

"I hope to be in the starting line-up for the final but I am prepared to be a substitute if that is what the coach wants," he said during the team's training session.

"I am willing to make way for Ahmad Nordin in midfield ... he is a very good and hardworking player.

"There is no ill-feeling as all of us are playing for each other."

Ismail, who was highly regarded as the Turtles' playmaker this season and even earned a cap in the national team, has not been in the starting 11 since he was red-carded in the quarter-final, first-leg match against Kelantan.

He has since made only substitute appearances in the semi-finals against Selangor.

But Ismail is not reading too much into it, saying "no one is indispensable" in the team.

"I am willing to sacrifice a starting berth if it means the team will win the Cup," he said.

"The coach knows what he is doing."

Instead of worrying about his place in the team, Ismail said he was more focused on training hard and enjoying his football.

"I am a diehard Terengganu fan even before I was a player. I want nothing more than to see the Cup back where it belongs after 10 years," he said.

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Turtle fans fuming over ticket fiasco

Posted: 26 Oct 2011 04:53 PM PDT

KUALA TERENGGANU: Hundreds of football fans here were left fuming and disappointed as some 30,000 Malaysia Cup final tickets were "sold out" in a matter of minutes yesterday.

A check by The Star at the Terengganu FA office revealed that fans, who had been queuing up since 8am, left empty-handed as the tickets were said to have been "sold out".

Fans here were told that they could purchase the Cup final tickets for RM25 after the state government agreed to subsidise 50% of the cost of RM50 for local fans.

The subsidised cost was good news for the fans but questions remain as to how the tickets could have been sold out so fast.

Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Said announced on Tuesday the decision to subsidise the tickets for the sake of football fans here following complaints that the tickets, priced at RM50, were too expensive.

Terengganu FA president Datuk Che Mat Jusoh had said that some 500 tickets were distributed to each state constituency and the remainder was sold at the Terengganu FA office.

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Mahathevan hopes to cap great year by playing in Cup final

Posted: 26 Oct 2011 04:53 PM PDT

PETALING JAYA: Rookie midfielder G. Mahathevan (pic) can thank his lucky stars for his successful debut with Negri Sembilan this season.

The lanky 23-year-old, who stands 1.9m (6'3"), said it was a dream come true to have qualified for the Malaysia Cup final.

He now hopes to be a part of the team that will troop onto the pitch against Terengganu at the Shah Alam Stadium on Saturday.

"It's been a good year for me and the team, which has qualified for three consecutive Malaysia Cup finals," said Mahathevan, who is not too keen to be on the bench on Cup final day.

"I am not a regular yet. I do get chances here and there but I will continue to fight for my place and I hope to establish a first-team role in the star-studded Negri side."

Mahathevan will have to compete with attacking midfielders Idris Karim, Shahurain Abu Samah, S. Kunalan and Abdul Halim Zainal for a place in the starting 11.

Mahathevan is also a rare breed of footballer who wants the best of both worlds – a successful career in football and studies. He holds a diploma in mechanical engineering.

He also believes that his stints with three other Premier League clubs have done wonders for him.

"I am playing with more confidence now. I have improved a lot since playing with my previous clubs – Shahzan Muda (2007), Sabah (2009) and PKNS FC (2010)," he said.

Things are certainly starting to look up for Mahathevan, especially since being signed up by Super League outfit Negri Sembilan this season.

Mahathevan, a big fan of French football legend Zinedine Zidane, also earned his first call-up to the national team under coach K. Rajagopal for the friendly against the visiting English Premier League giants Manchester United in July 2009.

It was not a memorable outing for Mahathevan, who only ended up warming the bench.

"I guess it was due to my inexperience. I am glad to have got the call-up though. I still have a lot to learn in football," said the defensive midfielder.

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

Spielberg's Tintin film targets new audiences

Posted: 25 Oct 2011 05:33 PM PDT

BRUSSELS (Reuters): Steven Spielberg's computer animated 3D adaptation of Belgian comic book hero Tintin premiered in Brussels on Saturday, aiming to capture a new global audience for the adventures of the boy reporter with the trademark quiff.

''The Adventures of Tintin,'' first penned in 1929 by Brussels-born author Georges Remi, better known as Herge, are already hugely popular in most of Europe and Spielberg said he hoped his film would find fresh fans.

''American audiences will look at this as an original movie,'' Spielberg told reporters in Brussels.

''Hopefully, if it is successful in America, perhaps for the first time in 80 years the books will start being published in America.''

Spielberg, who sported crossed Belgian and American flags on his lapel during the pre-screening press conference, after which he was made a commander of the order of the Belgian crown.

In ''The Adventures of Tintin - The Secret of the Unicorn,'' Spielberg, who directed blockbusters including ''Indiana Jones,'' ''E.T.'' and ''Jaws,'' aims to bridge the gap between Herge's comics and the big screen by employing a technique similar to that deployed in James Cameron's record-breaking ''Avatar.''

Actors including Jamie Bell, who portrays Tintin, had to adapt to acting in a studio wearing a special suit which registered his movements. The data was then transformed into a computer generated, three dimensional, image of his character.

''It actually becomes like a rehearsal stage, like you are rehearsing for a play you will never put on stage,'' Bell said.

Spielberg added that he was in touch with Herge, shortly before the author died in 1983, about adapting Tintin.

''He was a big fan of Raiders of the Lost Ark and actually on the telephone said he wanted me to adapt his books into movies so it was one of the most exciting phone calls in my life,'' Spielberg said.

For Belgium's comic book store owners, renewed interest in Tintin is good news.

''Without doubt we have noticed an uptick in sales. We have also seen this with the recent Smurfs film but even more so with Tintin,'' said Beo Hanssen of the Beo comic book store in Antwerp.


Early reviews for the film, which combines three of Tintin's comic book adventures, were broadly positive, with the Belgian press particularly glowing about Spielberg's adaptation.

''Action and humour dominate in a very pleasant spectacle,'' Belgian French-language magazine Le Vif wrote in a review.

''Herge would have loved this Tintin, full of character,'' French daily Le Soir wrote on Saturday.

Some British reviews were less enthusiastic, arguing that the computer graphics made the characters seem dull.

''How curious that Herge achieved more expression with his use of ink-spot eyes and humble line drawings than a bank of computers and an army of animators were able to achieve,'' British daily The Guardian wrote.


Tintin has also made negative headlines as a lawsuit alleging racism in Herge's second book ''Tintin in the Congo'' commenced in Belgium in late September.

The case, brought by Congolese-born campaigner Bienvenu Mbutu Mondondo, says Herge's depiction of native Africans is racist and propagates a colonialist view of the continent.

''What poses a problem today is not (author) Herge, it's the commercialisation of a cartoon book which manifestly diffuses ideas based on racial superiority,'' a lawyer for Mondondo told a Brussels court in September.

The book was published in 1931 and Bienvenu is taking action against a modern version of the original. Racist language was removed in subsequent editions.

''I don't know anything about the court case, I haven't followed it. It was just brought up before coming here, in case a question was asked,'' Spielberg said. ''There is no real reason for me to contribute to whatever the dialogue has been.'

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The Star Online: Nation

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Father of Malaysian Hindu Youth dies

Posted: 26 Oct 2011 04:13 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian Hindu Youth Organisation (HYO) founder, Vijayaratnam Saravanamuthu, passed away Wednesday at the Gleneagles Hospital here from respiratory complications.

He was 77.

Vijayaratnam, fondly referred to as the "Father of the Hindu Youth", founded HYO in 1949 and had contributed immensely to its growth, which has some 90 branches nationwide now.

During his lifetime, Vijayaratnam had organised many Hindu Youth conventions in various parts of the country and he was elected the first secretary-general of the Malaysian Youth Council in 1962.

HYO in a statement said Vijayaratnam leaves behind a wife Pushpavathy Chinniah and two sons, Datuk Vijay Eswaran, 51, and Vijaya Vicknesh, 49. Bernama

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PM leaves for Perth to attend CHOGM

Posted: 26 Oct 2011 04:02 AM PDT

SHAH ALAM: Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak left for Perth, Australia, to lead the Malaysian delegation to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).

The Prime Minister who is accompanied by his wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, left from the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) base in Subang at 5pm Wednesday.

Najib will attend five bilateral meetings, the Commonwealth Business Forum (CBF) on Thursday and three relaxed sessions on Saturday and Sunday.

Held biennially, CHOGM brings together leaders from Commonwealth member countries to discuss issues related to political, global financial crisis, climate change and sustainable development, among others.

The meeting with the theme 'Developing National Resilience, Building Global Resistance' is held over four days starting Thursday. Bernama

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MCA slams Anwar over budget remark

Posted: 26 Oct 2011 02:47 AM PDT

PETALING JAYA: Criticisms by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim of the financial aid promised under Budget 2012 are impractical and do not solve problems, an MCA committee member said.

MCA publicity chief Loh Seng Kok said the Opposition Leader was "shooting himself in the foot."

"Although he panned Budget 2012 as election goodies, he too served empty promises, such as declaring that petrol prices would be reduced if the Pakatan Rakyat seizes Putrajaya," Loh said in a statement.

He added state governments under the Pakatan also give monetary handouts, citing the Penang government.

Loh said the Opposition today - unlike their counterparts in the 70s - object merely for the sake of objecting.

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Music

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Music

Winehouse had high alcohol levels in blood -inquest

Posted: 26 Oct 2011 06:07 AM PDT

LONDON (Reuters) - British singer Amy Winehouse had more than five times the legal driving limit of alcohol in her blood when she died on July 23 aged 27, British media reported on Wednesday.

The "Rehab" and "Back to Black" singer had 416 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood, according to the findings of an inquest into her death, compared with the legal driving limit of 80 mg.

A hearing in London also learned that Winehouse, who battled drug and alcohol addiction throughout her brief but successful career, had not drunk alcohol in July until the day before she died.

The findings backed reports shortly after her death that the Grammy award-winning artist had been trying to deal with her addiction but ran the risk of complications from binge drinking.

A security guard checked on Winehouse at 10 a.m. on the day she died at her house in Camden, north London, and thought she was asleep. He checked again at 3 p.m. and called the emergency services.

The inquest ruled that she had died of "misadventure."

Members of her family, including her father Mitch, were present at the inquest, but made no comment to awaiting media as they left. A statement was expected to be released later on Wednesday.

Winehouse's last filmed performance was in Serbia in June, when she was jeered by the crowd as she struggled to perform her songs and stay upright. Her management then canceled all her scheduled performances.

Results from toxicology tests released in August showed there were no illegal substances in Winehouse's system when she died.

"Toxicology results returned to the Winehouse family by authorities have confirmed that there were no illegal substances in Amy's system at the time of her death," a spokesman for Winehouse said at the time.

"Results indicate that alcohol was present but it cannot be determined as yet if it played a role in her death."

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Michael Jackson top earner among dead celebrities

Posted: 25 Oct 2011 09:43 PM PDT

LOS ANGELES (Reuters): Michael Jackson was named this year's top-earning dead celebrity on Tuesday in a list compiled by financial website Forbes.com, earning the title for the second year in a row following his death in 2009.

"Thriller" singer Jackson, who died aged 50 of a drug overdose, is estimated to have earned $170 million in the past year, which also places him as the second highest-earning pop music act this year, dead or alive, Forbes.com said.

Jackson's physician at the time of his death, Dr. Conrad Murray, is currently on trial in Los Angeles, charged with involuntary manslaughter for administering the powerful anesthetic propofol as a sleep aid for the singer in Jackson's home. Murray has pleaded not guilty.

Jackson, whose name has rarely been out of the media headlines due to his sudden death and its cause, has seen sales of albums and memorabilia increase in the past year.

The theater group Cirque Du Soleil has mounted an extravagant show called "Immortal" that is based on the singer's life and music. Earlier this month, a tribute concert in Cardiff, Wales, lured tens of thousands of fans.

The King of Pop is followed closely by the King of Rock 'n' Roll Elvis Presley placed second on the list with earnings of $55 million. Like Jackson, Presley's estate has also benefited from Cirque du Soleil, who produced "Viva Elvis" in tribute to the late singer.

Hollywood's golden age pin-up girl, Marilyn Monroe, who died at age 36 in 1962, earned near $27 million, placing her third on the list.

Sultry screen icon Elizabeth Taylor, who passed away in March 2011 aged 79, was placed fifth after reportedly earning $12 million, with a large portion coming from the sales of her popular fragrance, "White Diamonds."

The Top-Earning Dead Celebrities list by Forbes takes into account any deceased famous figure who has earned at least $6 million between October 2010 and October 2011.

The full list can be viewed on Forbes.com at www.forbes.com/deadcelebs.

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Kelly Clarkson as strong as ever on new album

Posted: 25 Oct 2011 05:36 PM PDT

NEW YORK (Reuters): Kelly Clarkson is concerned. She released her new album "Stronger" this week and thinks it is her best work yet, but whenever something like that happens she worries nobody will like it.

The 13-song collection finds Clarkson working with a handful of new songwriters on some tunes and continuing to write her own music, which she has done since winning TV singing contest "American Idol" in 2002 at age 20.

While many past "Idol" winners have failed to rise to the heights of superstardom, Clarkson has enjoyed chart-topping success with pop rock singles such as "Miss Independent" and the smash hit, "Since U Been Gone."

But at age 29, the Texas native now has seen both highs and lows in her career, and she knows that even if she thinks her songs are great, the fans are the ultimate decision makers.

"Whenever you love something so much - and I think this is my best yet - I think sometimes when I think like that, it means no one's going to like it," she said of "Stronger."

A majority of the songs on the new album find Clarkson at an emotionally charged state. The sound straddles the line between big dance numbers and arena-rock bombast, which has become her signature calling card.

Clarkson calls the album "very intense" and said she felt she had a lot of energy and "soulfulness" to put into it. She likened each song to its "own little rollercoaster ride. Dynamically, vocally, that's what I love doing."

The energy is evident on the first single, "Mr. Know It All," as well as the up-and-down rock moments of "You Can't Win" and the electro-rock arrangements of "Let Me Down."


Lyrically, the songs dwell heavily on relationships and empowerment, two subjects that have been highlights her work through the years.

"I love writing and singing songs about real life situations - especially about relationships," she said. "Everyone wants to feel like they're not alone in a thought. That's the best feeling I get, when I hear a song and it's like 'you just nailed me.' That's the coolest thing in the world, to write something that can be relatable to other human beings."

Over the years, Clarkson's image has been that of an artist who is willing to speak her mind in regards to her creative output, even if it meant going against her label, as she did surrounding 2007's "My December."

And as she has matured, making music seems to be getting easier for Clarkson, mainly because she has not clung too closely to any one genre. In recent years, she's collaborated with country stars Reba McEntire, Rascal Flatts and Martina McBride. She also co-headlined a tour with McEntire in 2008.

"Stronger" continues to reflect her expanded range in musical styles, as evidenced by the dance-pop of "What Doesn't Kill You (Stronger)," charged rock and roll of "Hello" and the power ballad "Standing in Front of You."

Yet, while she may continue to explore different sounds and arrangements throughout her career, her vocals on "Stronger" remain her biggest asset among fans and critics.

In its review for "Stronger," The New York Times described Clarkson as turning into the "Mary J. Blige of pop music," where she's becoming "so good at being wounded that no one wants her to heal."

The Washington Post was less than thrilled, however, calling the album "comforting" but "unchallenging."

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