Despite what people say, it’s never too early for Christmas music. Kelly Clarkson apparently agrees, as she released “Wrapped in Red,” her sixth studio album, Tuesday. The album features 14 tracks, with five co-written by Clarkson herself.
The opening song, “Wrapped in Red,” is an original Clarkson song and it’s a killer. It’s not a traditional holiday song – obviously – but it definitely has the potential. Her vocals are incredibly powerful and make the listener want to belt out along with her, although it probably wouldn’t sound as good.
“Underneath the Tree” is next and again is a new score. The song is upbeat, catchy and audiences shouldn’t be surprised if their heads start to bob or their toes start tapping along. It has a great beat with instrumentals that give it a “holiday feel.”
Clarkson continues with “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” and while she does a beautiful rendition, it’s a pretty standard version of the song. Not that it is bad by any means; Clarkson’s voice shines on the track.
“Run Run Rudolph” is extremely upbeat with many instrumentals involved, making it reminiscent of songs during the Big Band Era. “White Christmas,” “My Favorite Things,” “Please Come Home for Christmas (Bells Will Be Ringing)” and “Silent Night” (feat. Reba McEntire and Trisha Yearwood) all make for great versions that will become instant classics with listeners.
On “Blue Christmas,” a distinct “twangy” guitar can be heard in the background, which is very reminiscent of the Elvis Presley version. But with Clarkson belting out her vocals, she makes a clear statement that this song is her own.
While “Baby It’s Cold Outside” (feat. Ronnie Dunn) isn’t bad, it’s a hard song to remake after the amazing version with Chris Colfer and Darren Criss from Glee. However, it would have been better without Ronnie Dunn. His vocals are a bit too country in comparison with Clarkson’s, making it an OK version.
Clarkson covers “Just For Now,” originally performed by Imogen Heap, which may confuse some fans because it is not necessarily a Christmas song. The only lyrics that evoke a sense of the holidays are: “It’s that time of year/ Leave all our hopelessness aside.” It may not necessarily go with the flow of the album, but Clarkson does the song justice.
The rest of the songs Clarkson helped to write include “Every Christmas,” “Winter Dream (Brandon’s Song)” and “4 Carat.” All are worth listening to, particularly “4 Carats.” It’s fun and peppy when Clarkson croons: “Like a diamond ring/ Just a little something from Tiffany’s/ Or a big ruby/ You know how that’s always looked good on me.” It has a certain pizzazz to it that is similar to the cover of “Santa Baby” by Madonna.
Overall, Clarkson has a great knack for taking traditional Christmas songs and giving them a unique spin.
With so many renditions out there, it’s important to produce a track that is not only recognizable but has a little twist as well. Clarkson nailed that.
Her vocals really shine through on the album and the instrumentals are just great. For the most part, it is extremely cohesive, excluding “Just For Now.”
It is challenging for an artist to release original Christmas songs, considering the majority of people want to listen to classic holiday jingles they can sing along with. However, Clarkson gives listeners some new jams to keep “the most wonderful time of the year” young and fresh.
It’s nice to listen to familiar holiday songs, but the best things about “Wrapped in Red” are the original songs.
They give listeners additional tracks to play during the winter and provide a nice break for those who find themselves tiring of the same old songs.
Clarkson sparkles on all 14 tracks, making “Wrapped in Red” an instant holiday classic.