Wrapped in Red

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Wrapped in Red
Studio album by Kelly Clarkson
ReleasedOctober 25, 2013 (2013-10-25)
Recorded2013
Genre
Length51:49
LabelRCA
Producer
Kelly Clarkson chronology
The Smoakstack Sessions Vol. 2
(2012)
Wrapped in Red
(2013)
Singles from Wrapped in Red
  1. "Underneath the Tree"
    Released: November 5, 2013
 
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For the song, see Wrapped in Red (song).
Wrapped in Red
Studio album by Kelly Clarkson
ReleasedOctober 25, 2013 (2013-10-25)
Recorded2013
Genre
Length51:49
LabelRCA
Producer
Kelly Clarkson chronology
The Smoakstack Sessions Vol. 2
(2012)
Wrapped in Red
(2013)
Singles from Wrapped in Red
  1. "Underneath the Tree"
    Released: November 5, 2013

Wrapped in Red is the sixth studio album by American recording artist Kelly Clarkson, released on October 25, 2013 by RCA Records. Primarily produced by Greg Kurstin, it is her first Christmas-themed release and her first album to be solely released by RCA. Consisting of fourteen tracks, it features cover versions of Christmas standards and contains five original songs, all of which she had co-written with various musicians.

Working extensively to create a contemporary holiday theme to classics, Clarkson has cited both Bing Crosby's and Rosemary Clooney's soundtracks for the 1954 film White Christmas and the 2003 film Love Actually as her inspirations for the album, whereas Kurstin cited Vince Guaraldi Trio's A Charlie Brown Christmas and A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector as his inspirations, which led him to evoke a "Wall of Sound" treatment during the album's production. She described the music of Wrapped in Red as a representation to explore different genres apart from pop music, which included jazz, country and Memphis soul, with an overall lyrical theme of the color red—which to her represents love, lust, envy, pain, and beauty, apart as a prominent holiday color.

Upon its release, Wrapped in Red garnered a positive response from music critics, who noted the album's unique track selection and lauded its original songs as prospective Christmas standards. It became a commercial success in the United States, where debuted on the Billboard 200 chart at number 3 and topped the Billboard Top Holiday Albums chart with 70,000 copies sold in its first week of release, For nine consecutive weeks, Wrapped in Red stayed on the top ten of both charts and was quickly certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America for shipments of one million copies. According to Billboard and Nielsen Soundscan, the album eventually became the best-selling Christmas release of 2013 in the United States. Its lead single "Underneath the Tree" became a top forty Christmas hit song and was pegged by critics as a future Christmas standard. To coincide with the album's release, Clarkson filmed the television special Kelly Clarkson's Cautionary Christmas Music Tale at The Venetian Las Vegas on October 30, 2013, which was first broadcast on NBC on December 11, 2013.

Background[edit]

In an interview on CMT Radio, Clarkson revealed she had already expressed interest in recording a Christmas album for years,[1] having recorded the Christmas songs "Oh Holy Night" and "My Grown Up Christmas List" on the compilation American Idol: The Great Holiday Classics (2003), having been featured on "There's a New Kid in Town" on country singer Blake Shelton's album Cheers, It's Christmas (2012),[2] and having released "I'll Be Home for Christmas", which originally appeared on iTunes Session (2011).[3][4] Discussion for Clarkson's sixth studio album being a Christmas album began in late 2012, during which she began to write original material during the 2012 Christmas season and began recording the following year.[5] She remarked, "I always get asked what genre I'm in: 'Is this country or pop or rock? What are you?' And what's cool about making the Christmas album was, 'Oh, there are no limitations! We can do whatever we want!'"[6]

Development and production[edit]

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The Wall of Sound is prominently resonated in this 27-second sample of "Wrapped in Red".[7]

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Clarkson collaborated with producer Greg Kurstin, whom she also collaborated with on Stronger (2011) and on Greatest Hits – Chapter One (2012),[1][8][9][10] during the album's production. As a result, Kurstin solely produced the whole album, making it the second time a producer solely produced an entire album by Clarkson (the first being David Kahne producing My December in 2007)[11] and the third time Kurstin solely produced an entire album (the first two being Lily Allen's It's Not Me, It's You in 2009 and Sia's We Are Born in 2010).[12][13] Kurstin, who descended from a Jewish heritage, was unfamiliar to Christmas songs Clarkson had selected, such as "Run Rudolph Run" and "White Christmas".[14] He remarked, "We really experimented. It was so much fun and liberating. And it pays off."[6]

Recording sessions began in May 2013.[5][6] He recalled, "It was a lot of fun for us because we got to go back to our roots. When Kelly started singing, it was clear she had the chops and had been trained to do anything."[6] Kurstin, who studied with jazz musician Jaki Byard at The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music,[15] enlisted various jazz and soul session musicians such as James Gadson, Kevin Dukes, Roy McCurdy, and Bill Withers; and collaborated with Joseph Trapanese to arrange and conduct a 50-piece orchestra.[6] Kurstin also provided instrumentation for the album, using a variety of instruments such as a Mellotron and a Chamberlin, and taped them from a distance to stimulate the Wall of Sound, a technique originally developed by Phil Spector.[6] He also enlisted Clarkson to provide all the background vocals herself.[6] Clarkson, who grew up singing in a choir in Texas, was pleased with the aspect, stating "Blending is something I knew how to do from Childhood. Sometimes I'd have to do an alto instead of a soprano because they needed a bigger sound. But I've never had to do anything like this before—doing all my backup vocals, essentially being my own choir."[6]

Composition[edit]

Style and inspirations[edit]

"There's something about it that represents so many deep emotions, whether it's love or lust or envy or pain or beauty."

Clarkson on the color red being used as the album's primary theme.[6]

Clarkson described Wrapped in Red's music as a representation to explore different genres apart from her usual pop sound, which included jazz, country and Memphis soul.[6][16] She has cited both Bing Crosby's and Rosemary Clooney's soundtracks for the 1954 film White Christmas as her inspirations for Wrapped in Red while Kurstin cited Vince Guaraldi Trio's A Charlie Brown Christmas and A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector as his inspirations.[6] She noted that the album's multitude styles adds up to the real her, saying, "My best friend from childhood heard it and said, 'This is what you sound like, before everything else.' And I agree, It's my core sound. Back in the day, when artists came out with things like "Fall to Pieces" and "Bridge over Troubled Water", those songs transcended genres. It wasn't, 'Where is it going to fit?' You catered to whatever the song calls for. And that's exactly what I did—without having to have an umbrella for everything."[6] On his part, Kurstin, who used to play in a jazz band, wanted to showcase as many different styles as they could by experimenting in various sounds and styles and called in musicians such as Gadson (a former member of Charles Wright & the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band) and Withers to create a Memphis soul sound.[6]

Songs[edit]

Clarkson shares writing credits on all five original songs on Wrapped in Red. The opening and the titular track, "Wrapped in Red", was written by Clarkson, Ashley Arrison, Aben Eubanks, and Shane McAnally. Clarkson has cited the 2003 film Love Actually (which featured her song "The Trouble with Love Is") as an inspiration for the song, particularly a scene in which Mark (Andrew Lincoln) had used Bob Dylan-esque word cards to express his unrequited love for Juliet (Keira Knightley) during Christmas.[17] The second track and its first single, "Underneath the Tree", was written by Clarkson and Kurstin.[9] The third track is a cover of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" while the fourth is a rendition of "Run Run Rudolph". The fifth track is a cover version of "Please Come Home for Christmas (Bells Will Be Ringing)". "Every Christmas", the sixth track, is an original song written by Clarkson and Eubanks. The seventh track is a cover Elvis Presley's "Blue Christmas", which Clarkson had previously performed in a UK television special in 2005.[18] The eighth track, a cover of "Baby, It's Cold Outside", features recording artist Ronnie Dunn.[19] The tenth track, "Winter Dreams (Brandon's Song)" was written by Clarkson, Arrison, and Eubanks. Clarkson dedicated the song to her husband, talent manager Brandon Blackstock.[6] The eleventh track is a cover of Rodgers and Hammerstein's "My Favorite Things". She described the twelfth track, "4 Carats" as a crossover between Eartha Kitt's "Santa Baby" and Madonna's "Material Girl".[6] Clarkson co-wrote the song with Kurstin, Cathy Dennis and Livvi Franc, all of whom she previously collaborated in the past. The thirteenth track is a cover of "Just for Now", originally sung by Imogen Heap for her second studio album, Speak for Yourself. Clarkson remarked, "I just love that song. That was my family Christmas-highly dysfunctional, like, 'Can we just stop for like five minutes and have like a normal Christmas setting?'"[6] The fourteenth and final track on the standard version of the album is a rendition of the traditional carol "Silent Night". It features recording artists Reba McEntire and Trisha Yearwood and ends in an a Capella setting.[6][20] McEntire, Blackstock's stepmother, had previously collaborated with Clarkson on a duet version of "Because of You" in 2007, which was the lead single from McEntire's duet album, Reba: Duets. The deluxe version of the album contains two additional tracks: Clarkson's cover "I'll Be Home for Christmas" from iTunes Session was included as the fifteenth track and the album's closing track is a rendition of the first stanza of the ecclesiastical hymn "Oh Come, Oh Come Emmanuel".[21]

Release and promotion[edit]

On August 19, 2013, Clarkson revealed that the album's title will be Wrapped In Red, which was set to be released on October 25, 2013, accompanied by the release of "Underneath the Tree" as its lead single.[9][22][23] On September 5, 2013, Clarkson revealed the track listing for the album, which will contain five original songs and nine covers of Christmas-themed material.[24] Sony Music also announced a deluxe version track listing, which will contain two additional songs.[25] The deluxe edition will exclusively released internationally and on Target stores in the United States.[21][26] A LP pressing of Wrapped in Red would follow the CD release on November 25, 2013, marking the first time an album by Clarkson was released on a vinyl record.[27] A deluxe LP and CD edition will be released on Clarkson's official store which includes a scarf, a holiday ornament and a snow globe, all of which are decorated in red as inspired from the album.[28]

A cover of the Christmas standard "White Christmas" was released on October 15, 2013 as a promotional single from the album.[29] The song debuted at number one on the Billboard Holiday Digital Songs chart on the chart week ending November 2, 2013.[30] On October 18, 2013, Clarkson premiered the lead single, "Underneath the Tree" on her Vevo channel[31] and on October 28, 2013, a lyric video was released for the single.[32] She filmed a Christmas special entitled Kelly Clarkson's Cautionary Christmas Music Tale on October 30, 2013, a day after its street date, at the The Venetian Las Vegas, which was broadcast on NBC on December 11, 2013.[33][34][35] RCA has announced plans to release "Underneath the Tree" to pop radio stations.[6] While other prospective singles, such as "Silent Night", "Please Come Home For Christmas (Bells Will Be Ringing)", and "Baby, It's Cold Outside" are being planned to be sent to country, adult contemporary and adult pop radio stations, respectively.[6]

Clarkson performed in various televised performances to promote the album, all of which she was clad in red clothing. She first performed "Underneath the Tree" at The Today Show on November 26, 2013.[36] On December 4, 2013, she performed "Run Run Rudolph" and "Blue Christmas" on the Christmas at Rockefeller Center television special.[37] Clarkson then performed "Underneath the Tree" on more televised events, such as on the fifth season of the The Voice on December 3, 2013;[38] The Ellen DeGeneres Show on December 5, 2013; and on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon on December 12, 2013.[39][40] Some of the album's tracks were also used in advertisements, such as "Run Run Rudolph", which was used in a Belk holiday advertisement,[41] and "Underneath the Tree", which was featured in an Amazon.com and Amazon Kindle Fire HDX advertisement with an appearance by Clarkson performing the song.[42]

Singles[edit]

Wrapped in Red's lead single "Underneath the Tree" was first released on November 5, 2013.[43] It was praised by critics upon its release, who noted its potential to be a Christmas standard. Carl Williot of Idolator described it as "strong enough that it could enter the pantheon of modern Christmas staples like Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas Is You" and 'N Sync's "Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays"."[44] Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine remarked that it is "likely to become Clarkson's very own contemporary standard."[45] It topped the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart for four weeks.[46] It also peaked at number 78 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and at number 10 on Billboard Holiday 100.[46] Internationally, it became a top forty hit in Canada, the Netherlands, South Korea, and the United Kingdom.[47][48][49][50]

Critical response[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
Allmusic3.5/5 stars[51]
ABC News3/4 stars[52]
The Boston Globe(favorable)[7]
Country Weekly5/5 stars[53]
The Guardian3/5 stars[54]
HitFixA[55]
NewsdayA-[56]
NPR(favorable)[57]
Slant Magazine3.5/5 stars[45]

Upon its release, Wrapped in Red received generally favorable reviews from music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 73, based on 6 reviews.[58] AllMusic's senior editor Stephen Thomas Erlewine gave it a three-and-a-half stars. He described its uptempo arrangements, as well as Clarkson's vocal performance, as "bold and brassy" and its midtempo arrangements as "even more alluring".[51] He also noted the track selection "favors the bold," but that "she fares well in this setting, always sounding like the strongest element in the mix"[51] Towards the end of his review, he wrote that "Perhaps the concept and execution are conventional, but even in this utterly expected setting, Clarkson retains her fiery, individual spirit, and that's what makes Wrapped in Red appealing: to the letter, it delivers what it promises."[51] Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine also gave it a similar rating. He noted that the album "largely offers a respite from the pop-rock template she's been relentlessly pursuing since Breakaway, with less shouting and more of the varied range and texture on full display that helped coronate her the winner of the inaugural season of American Idol. For better or worse, a decade of recording and touring has roughed up the edges of her voice, lending a lived-in quality that imbues lyrics about love and longing with an authenticity that might have otherwise been missing had she recorded these songs just a few years earlier."[45]

NPR's Ken Tucker described the album as a "glossy but heartfelt work" and approvingly compared its contrasting philosophy to Nick Lowe's Quality Street: A Seasonal Selection for All the Family, both of which he described as "will put you in a holiday mood".[57] Sarah Rodman of The Boston Globe gave a favorable review, particularly lauding "Underneath the Tree", and described Clarkson's rendering the Christmas standards as "fairly straight". She added, "She starts gently on "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" before belting out the money notes. She ambles assuredly through the soulful favorite "Please Come Home for Christmas (Bells Will Be Ringing)" and hangs by the piano for a torchy “White Christmas."[7] Newsday's music columnist Glenn Gamboa wrote that "Clarkson handles it all expertly — hitting remarkably high notes on "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" and swinging jazzily on "Baby It's Cold Outside" with Dunn. The new songs make Wrapped in Red a real gift, as the title track and "Underneath the Tree" channel the Phil Spector Christmas albums; and "4 Carats" somehow blends "Stronger" and "Santa Baby".[56] Melinda Newman of HitFix praised Clarkson's vocal performances and noted that she and Kurstin "have clearly studied legendary Christmas albums of yore—most notably Phil Spector's A Christmas Gift For You and Andy Williams' Merry Christmas—to lovingly recreate Christmas standards, as well as craft new ones in the image of those sets."[55]

Chart performance[edit]

Wrapped in Red became a commercial success in the United States. Prior it its release, Keith Caulfield of Billboard predicted that it would likely sell at least 60,000 copies in its first week of release in the United States.[59] On the week ending November 16, 2013, it debuted on the Billboard 200 chart at number 3 with 70,000 copies, which was 93,000 less than the first week sales of Stronger, which debuted with 163,000 copies in 2011.[60] The chart's top three debut gave Clarkson her sixth top ten studio album, indicating that all of Clarkson's studio albums have debuted on the top ten, and on an extent, the top three of the chart.[61] The album's chart entry also marked the second time her album debuted at number 3, the first being Breakaway in 2004.[62] Wrapped in Red also debuted at number one on the Billboard Top Holiday Albums chart, making it the highest highest debut for a Christmas album by a female artist since Susan Boyle's first Christmas album The Gift debuted at the top of the chart in 2010.[63][64] Despite its modest debut week, Wrapped in Red gained traction at the beginning of the holiday season, selling up to 131,000 copies during the Thanksgiving week.[65] It experienced its best sales week after benefiting from NBC's broadcast of Kelly Clarkson's Cautionary Christmas Music Tale, selling up to 136,000 copies on its seventh week of release.[66] It stayed in the chart's top ten for nine consecutive weeks, the most by any album by Clarkson.[67]

On December 5, 2013, it was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America for shipments of one million copies, making it her sixth platinum studio album.[68] Wrapped in Red subsequently became the best-selling Christmas release of 2013, according to Billboard,[69] and Nielsen Soundscan,[70] making her the first American female artist to have the number-one Christmas album of the Soundscan era.[70] It finished the year with 763,000 copies sold in the U.S.[70] Twelve of the album cut tracks from Wrapped in Red also entered the Billboard Holiday Digital Songs chart during its first week of release—led by "Silent Night", "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas", and "Underneath the Tree" at numbers 1, 2, and 4, respectively.[71][72] Other songs also appeared in various Billboard charts, songs such as "Blue Christmas" and "Please Come Home for Christmas" charted in the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart, peaking at numbers 5 and 6, respectively.[46] "Silent Night" also charted in both the Billboard Holiday 100 and Billboard Hot Country Songs charts, peaking at numbers 86 and 51, respectively.[46][73] Internationally, Wrapped in Red had a relatively limited commercial performance. In Canada, the album debuted on the Billboard Canadian Albums chart at number 6 on the week ending November 16, 2013, making it her fifth top ten debut on the Nielsen-tracked chart.[74] It peaked on the chart at number 5 on the week ending December 28, 2013.[75] In Australia, the album debuted on the ARIA Albums Chart at number 82 on the week ending November 4, 2013,[76] and peaked at number 29 on the week ending December 30, 2013.[77] In Switzerland, it debuted on the Schweizer Hitparade at number 97 on the week ending November 10, 2013.[78] In the United Kingdom, Wrapped in Red charted on the Official UK Albums chart at number 65 on the week ending December 14, 2013.[79]

Track listing[edit]

All songs were produced by Greg Kurstin, with the exception of "I'll Be Home for Christmas", which was originally produced by Thuy-An Julien.[80]

Standard edition[24][80]
No.TitleWriter(s)Length
1."Wrapped in Red"  Kelly Clarkson, Ashley Arrison, Aben Eubanks, Shane McAnally3:36
2."Underneath the Tree"  Clarkson, Kurstin3:49
3."Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas"  Ralph Blane, Hugh Martin3:39
4."Run Run Rudolph"  Johnny Marks, Marvin Brodie2:27
5."Please Come Home for Christmas (Bells Will Be Ringing)"  Charles Brown, Gene Redd3:19
6."Every Christmas"  Clarkson, Eubanks3:46
7."Blue Christmas"  Billy Hayes, Jay Johnson2:52
8."Baby, It's Cold Outside" (featuring Ronnie Dunn)Frank Loesser3:01
9."Winter Dreams (Brandon's Song)"  Clarkson, Arrison, Eubanks3:22
10."White Christmas"  Irving Berlin3:02
11."My Favorite Things"  Oscar Hammerstein, Richard Rodgers2:49
12."4 Carats"  Clarkson, Kirstin, Cathy Dennis, Livvi Franc3:28
13."Just for Now"  Imogen Heap3:30
14."Silent Night" (featuring Reba and Trisha Yearwood)Traditional4:09
Total length:
46:54
Notes

Credits and personnel[edit]

Credits lifted from the album's liner notes.[80]

Produced at
Performance credits
Instruments
Production

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

RegionCertificationSales/shipments
Canada (Music Canada)[92]Platinum80,000^
United States (RIAA)[68]Platinum1,000,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone

Release history[edit]

List of release dates, showing region, label, formats, and catalog number
RegionDateLabelFormat(s)Catalog number
Australia[93][94]October 25, 2013 (2013-10-25)Sony Music EntertainmentCD, download88883-77623-2 (deluxe)
Austria[93][95]
Belgium[93]
Finland[93][96]
Germany[25][93]
Ireland[93]
Netherlands[93][97]
Sweden[93]
Switzerland[93][98]
Denmark[99]October 28, 2013 (2013-10-28)
France[99][100]Jive Epic Group
Norway[99]Sony Music Entertainment
Philippines[99]
Poland[99]
Portugal[99]
Spain[99]
Singapore[99]
South Africa[99]
Brazil[101]October 29, 2013 (2013-10-29)
Canada[101][102]
Italy[101]
United States[21][101][103]RCA Records88837-37412-5 (standard)
88883-77623-2 (Target exclusive)
Japan[26]November 20, 2013 (2013-11-20)Sony Music JapanSICP-3919 (deluxe)
Austria[104]November 25, 2013 (2013-11-25)Sony Music EntertainmentLP88430-00681-2 (standard)
Germany[105]
United States[27]RCA Records
United Kingdom[106][107]December 2, 2013 (2013-12-02)CD, download88883-77623-2 (deluxe)
New Zealand[108]December 6, 2013 (2013-12-06)Sony Music Entertainment

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  108. ^ Wrapped in Red will be released on iTunes Store on December 6, 2013:

External links[edit]