Kelly Brianne Clarkson was born on April 24, 1982 in Fort Worth, Texas. She was raised Southern Baptist. While in high school she performed in some musicals including ‘Seven Brides For Seven Brothers’ and ‘Brigadoon’. In 2002 she won the first season of American Idol. She released her debut album, THANKFUL, in 2003. Some of the songs she is known for are: ‘Miss Independent’, ‘Since U Been Gone’, ‘My Life Would Suck Without You’, ‘Don’t You Wanna Stay (with Jason Aldean)’, and ‘What Doesn’t Kill You (Stronger)’. WRAPPED IN RED is her 6th studio album. It sold 70, 000 copies in its first week and hit No 1 on the Billboard Top Holiday Albums chart. It came out in 2013 on RCA Records. Greg Kurstin, who has worked with the likes of Ellie Goulding and Foster the People, produced it.
The first song, ‘Wrapped in Red’, is a strong adult contemporary one and was written by Kelly, Ashley Arrison, Aben Eubanks, and Shane McAnally. It is about gathering courage: “Everybody’s happy, snow is falling down/Prayers are being answered, miracles all around/From afar I’ve loved you, but never let it show/And every year another December comes and goes/Always watching, never reaching/But this Christmas I’m gonna risk it all/This Christmas I’m not afraid to fall/So I’m at your door with nothing more than words I’ve never said/In all this white you’ll see me like you’ve never seen me yet/Wrapped in red”. ‘Underneath the Tree’ is the bouncy pop lead single. It uses saxophones, trombone, trumpet, flugelhorn, and mellophone. It reminds us of the folly of chasing after material things: “Presents, what a beautiful sight/Don’t mean a thing if you ain’t holding me tight/You’re all that I need/Underneath the tree I found what I was looking for/A love that’s meant for me/A heart that’s mine completely/Knocked me right off my feet”.
‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’ includes these sentimental lyrics: “Have yourself a merry little Christmas/Make the yuletide gay/From now on our troubles will be miles away/Here we are as in olden days/Happy golden days of yore/Faithful friends who are dear to us/Gather near to us once more”. ‘Run Run Rudolph’ was penned by Johnny Marks and Marvin Brodie. It is a playful, fun, rock and roll song: “Run, run Rudolph/Santa’s gotta make it to town/Randolph, he can hurry, he can take the freeway down/And away went Rudolph, whizzing like a merry-go-round”.
‘Please Come Home For Christmas (Bells Will Be Ringing)’ includes the talents of The Regiment Horns. It reminds us that the holidays can be a lonely time for many: “Bells will be ringing the glad, glad news/Oh what a Christmas to have the blues/My baby’s gone/I have no friends to wish me greetings once again.../Please come home for Christmas/If not for Christmas, by New Year’s night”. ‘Every Christmas’ is a soulful song. It again finds Kelly pining for love: “Santa isn’t listening, no/And I’m losing hope/Oh God, if it isn’t too much/Please bring my baby home/Every Christmas/Counting the days/Maybe this year will be different and I won’t be, be alone again/Under the mistletoe, let it snow, come on home”.
‘Blue Christmas’ is the third consecutive song on the same theme and has an old country feel to it: “I’ll have a blue Christmas without you/I’ll be so blue just thinking about you/Decorations of red on a green Christmas tree/Won’t be the same dear, if you’re not here with me”. ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’ is given the jazz treatment here. It is a flirtatious song featuring country music legend Ronnie Dunn: “This welcome has been so nice and warm (Baby, it’s cold outside)/(Look out the window at that storm)/My sister will be suspicious/(Gosh your lips look delicious)/My brother will be there at the door (Waves upon a tropical shore)/My maiden Aunt’s mind is vicious/(Mmm, your lips are delicious)/Well, maybe just a cigarette more/(Never such a blizzard before)”.
‘Winter Dreams (Brandon’s Song)’ is a great pop number that finds Kelly in love: “This Christmas Eve, ‘I’ became ‘we’/Don’t wake me please from this winter dream/Build a fire to escape the cold/Bing Crosby on the stereo/Tracing letters on my skin, slowly starts sinkin’ in...you love me/Oh, don’t wake me up/If this is love/Please let me be swept completely off my feet”. Irving Berlin’s ‘White Christmas’ is another sentimental song: “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas/Just like the ones I used to know/Where the treetops glisten and children listen to hear sleigh bells in the snow/I’m dreaming of a white Christmas/With every Christmas card I write”.
‘My Favorite Things’, from ‘The Sound of Music’¸ was composed by Oscar Hammerstein and Richard Rodgers. Here it is presented well, in the traditional manner. It begins with these famous words: “Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens/Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens/Brown paper packages tied up with strings/These are a few of my favorite things”. Kelly, Greg Kurstin, Cathy Dennis, and Olivia Waithe wrote the terrific pop/rock song ‘4 Carats’. It is an adult conversation with Santa: “I know you have your rounds to make/But I’ve been waiting up for you/And now the clock has just struck two/I’m looking out my windows/Looking for a red nose/My heart’s sinking/Don’t forget me or my diamond ring/Just a little something from Tiffany’s/Or a big ruby/You know red has always looked good on me”.
Imogen Heap’s ‘Just For Now’ begins with these interesting lyrics: “Just for now/It’s that time of year/Leave all our hopelessness’s aside/If just for a little while/Tears stop right here/I know we’ve all had a bumpy ride/I’m secretly on your side/How did you know/It’s what I’ve always wanted/Could never have had too many of these”. ‘Silent Night’ is a real treat vocally as it features two country music heavyweights in Reba and Trisha Yearwood. It is a song of praise: “Silent night, Holy night/Son of God/Love’s pure light/Radiant beams from Thy holy face/With the dawn of redeeming grace/Jesus, Lord at Thy birth”. (2X)
The Deluxe Edition of the album I have includes two bonus tracks. ‘I’ll Be Home For Christmas’ is from an iTunes Session and Leif Shires plays trumpet on it. It starts with these familiar sentiments: “I’ll be home for Christmas/You can count on me/Please have snow and mistletoe/And presents under the tree/Christmas Eve will find you/Where the love light gleams/I’ll be home for Christmas/If only in my dreams”. ‘Oh Come, Oh Come, Emmanuel’ is short and presented reverently like a prayer: “Oh come, oh come, Emmanuel/And ransom captive Israel/That mourns in lowly exile here/Until the Son of God appears/Rejoice! Rejoice!/Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel”.
Kelly Clarkson’s vocals are strong, moving, and flawless on this WRAPPED IN RED album. The best comparison I can think of is Natalie Grant. This album is so good you will want to listen to it year round! A variety of musical styles are presented including: pop, rock, country, soul, jazz, and alternative. The photos of Kelly included with this project are stunning and beautiful. All in all, this is a perfect project! I’m rating it 100%. For more info visit: www.kellyclarkson.com.