Should Have Been Bigger: Kelly Clarkson’s “Underneath The Tree”

Kelly's 'Meaning Of Life:' Album Review
We review Kelly Clarkson's 8th LP, the soulful and surprising 'Meaning Of Life.'

In the pantheon of modern Christmas songs, Kelly Clarkson’s “Underneath The Tree” stands toe-to-toe with Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton’s “You Make It Feel Like Christmas” as one of the best. (Of course, Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” is in a league of its own). Released in 2013 as the lead single from Wrapped In Red, the Greg Kurstin-produced bop is positively bursting with good cheer. “Presents, what a beautiful sight! Don’t mean a thing if you ain’t holding me tight,” Kelly belts on the chorus. “You’re all that I need, underneath the tree.”

It’s cute, feel-good and very, very festive. Somewhat surprisingly, “Underneath The Tree” only peaked at number 78 on the Billboard Hot 100. And yes, it was difficult for seasonal fare to chart in the post-physical sales/pre-streaming era when radio reigned supreme. But Kelly’s Christmas anthem is so catchy that it transcends the holiday genre in the same way that Mimi’s seminal classic did in the 1990s. It’s just a hell of a good pop song dressed up in a little tinsel and crisp, red wrapping paper.

There is a happy ending to this story. “Underneath The Tree” has become one of those pesky Xmas songs that reemerges every December. It is currently sitting at number 70 on iTunes and could well reenter the Billboard Hot 100 before the year is out. Perhaps, Kelly could film a belated video or give the song a refresh with a remix? Anyway, there’s time. This is one of those classic tunes that has an indefinite shelf-life.

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