The holiday season is yet again upon us and that ushers in Christmas carols, timeless hits and special favorites in our playlists and digital radio selections. Kelly Clarkson recorded her first Christmas album in 2013 after waiting her entire career for the opportunity. Then label RCA Records came to Clarkson to inquire if she'd like to make a holiday record and she took complete control of the project. Clarkson teamed up with Greg Kurstin, producer who's worked on previous tracks "Stronger" and "Dark Side" (also the top producer of studio album Piece by Piece in 2015). Kurstin took on the project and being Jewish, was unfamiliar with traditional favorites. The album turned out to be a classy, memorable piece of art from the three-time Grammy winner. Along with some of the most recognizable songs in the world, Clarkson co-penned several original tracks including "Winter Dreams (Brandon's Song)" and the cheeky "4 Carats." AXS is looking at the top 5 songs from Wrapped in Red.
If Kelly Clarkson's voice has ever shined brighter, it's on the classic "White Christmas." From the sultry low coos to the controlled upper register, the flavors of the recording are tender with slight purposeful cracks littered around lead by a piano.
"Underneath the Tree" was another track that Clarkson co-penned for Wrapped in Red. The idea was to create anthemic holiday track that has the energy of Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas." When brought up in conversation, Clarkson laughs off when it's compared to Carey's most notable song, "I wish I had written that song!" "Tree" served as the song to kick off the era for the album that was released in Oct. in time for the holidays.
Kelly Clarkson loves an energetic tune. Her rendition of "Run Run Rudolph" has been performed many times for televised appearances including her own Christmas special aired that year (released to DVD at Walmart stores in 2014). It's a throwback to Chuck Berry rock 'n roll with raspy roars and enough sass to ignite the reindeer's nose in time for Santa's delivery.
"I'll Be Home for Christmas" has the lengthy history with Clarkson. The song was originally recorded in 2011 for a special iTunes EP release of acoustic versions of several popular songs including just released Stronger tracks. It was then placed on 2012's Greatest Hits: Chapter One as a bonus track with the fall release of the compilation. Finally, it found a solid home with the Target deluxe edition of Wrapped in Red where she included two extra songs. The trumpets along with how powerful pipes used in the most classic of ways are sure to be remembered as holidays pass on.
Clarkson has been involved in the country world since she and Reba McEntire became friends during Clarkson's Breakaway era. The two along with Trisha Yearwood teamed up to recreate a breathtaking "Silent Night." Led with a simple arrangement, it's the finish of the song that make the song what it is. The trio's vocals blend effortlessly while Clarkson took the role of the higher harmonies and let the other two women mingle their talents for the bones of the acapella piece. The ladies also performed it live for the NBC special and is linked above.
The five songs are not limited to what is included on the album. The bright "My Favorite Things," the old school country infused "Blue Christmas" and slick "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" also are must-hears.