Pardon the late review, I made it halfway through and took a week off–pesky schoolwork. But it was almost more appropriate that I got to do it now, since I’m 100% in the Christmas spirit. Kelly was off to the holiday race very, very early with her October release, which sold 70,000 copies opening week. Let’s get festive!
1. Wrapped In Red: 5/10
“Everybody’s happy.” What a beautiful way to start off a song. Thank you, Kelly. I am happy. I don’t like the fact that it seems angsty though. Kinda kills my Christmas mood.
2. Underneath the Tree: 11/10
I have no words. Utter perfection. I don’t give out extra credit points to songs, but this deserves it. It’s the 21st century’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You.” Instant holiday classic. Commercial. Fun. Christmas-on-crack. Yay! This could be the only track on the album 12 times and I’d be fine with that.
3. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas: 9/10
The opening line just hits you with warmth. This is one of my favorite Christmas songs and I already have like four versions of it–make that five.
4. Run, Run Rudolph: 10/10
Yup. Quintessential Christmas track. Oh, Kelly you are amazing. American Bandstand meets Christmas glam. This is a fun one y’all!
5. Please Come Home for Christmas (Bells Will Be Ringing): 8/10
Slow, bluesy track. She’s really not holding back. Not. At. All. It’s the feisty, loud Kelly we’ve always known–well, before she kinda went country on us…
6. Every Christmas: 6/10
This sounds like a track off of “Thankful.” It has the soulful edge. And her voice sounds like it did in 2002. Not that her voice doesn’t sound like…her voice…but, I don’t know. Just ignore what I said. It makes sense in my head.
7. Blue Christmas: 3/10
I don’t even like the original. I’m trying to give her a fair shot. It’s just too honky-tonky for me. Very vintage. I can picture her singing in a 70’s movie as a soldier and his girlfriend are dancing in a mess hall. But, I’m going to pass…next!
8. Baby It’s Cold Outside: 5/10
I like her…but Ronnie, not so much. There’s no connection here. It’s supposed to be flirty, but I don’t believe it. Where’s Michael Bublé when you need him? It’s like a creepy, old pedophile chiming in. I have the creeps.
9. Winter Dreams (Brandon’s Song): 8/10
LOL I thought she said “fucking” glass. Oh, “foggy.” This is so cute! Well now it seems kind of weird and awkwardly arranged. Oh, it’s cute again!
10. White Christmas: 9/10
Five seconds in and I’m sold. Those piano keys. I just know this is going to be good. Her voice was made for this. Such a classic and she does it justice.
11. My Favorite Things: 7/10
“Sound of Music”! As a young, little boy, I was obsessed with this film–like all other little boys 😉 This sounds like a very glitzy Broadway version. Like if Disney were to add this song to one of their outdoor concert shows, it would sound just like this.
12. 4 Carats: 6/10
A grungy Christmas song? Hm, interesting. Now it’s pepping up. Fun lyrics. Just four carats? Girl, this is Santa–20 carats please!
13. Just For Now: 5/10
I love parts of it, hate other parts. When her voice is trailing off and she has the grit, it’s golden. But I don’t like the yelling and heavy percussion. It kind of puts me not in the Christmas mood, but in more of a “My December” place.
14. Silent Night Ft. Reba & Trisha Yearwood: 5/10
The only traditional, religious song on the album. Very nice and pacifying. I just can’t stop singing the Mariah version in my head. A little safe.
15. I’ll Be Home for Christmas: 10/10
Too good. Everything you want a Christmas song to sound like. You can almost feel the fireplace listening to this. I want to snuggle up in blankets with a peppermint hot cocoa and listen to this while watching the snow fall. As you can see, I get very visual when listening to songs. I love that she shows some restraint too and has some delicate touches. Gah! Perfection.
16. Oh Come, Oh Come Emmanuel: 8/10
She sounds great, but why so scary, gurrrl? I feel like I’m being watched. It’s pretty at the same time though.
I was curious to see which direction Kelly was going to go for Christmas, stylistically. And that curiosity was answered: a little bit of everything. While predominantly soulful and brassy, there is some sugary pop, country twang and vintage bandstand. It’s a unique album in that there aren’t the usual suspect songs that are getting rendered yet again; there are many new songs that were crafted for this album. I think it’s a perfect marriage: Clarkson’s husky pipes and Christmas. Now let me resume raping the replay on “Underneath the Tree” until the end of time.