Kelly Clarkson's long-awaited Christmas album is upon us -- as in imminently so -- and she just dropped the first official song from the new collection, a song just about everyone says will be -- is -- an instant holiday classic. "Underneath The Tree" is the first official single from the new album, Wrapped In Red, Clarkson's sixth studio album, and it premiered Friday on the first "American Idol" winner's VEVO channel.
As Taste of Country noted Oct. 19, "Underneath The Tree" was preceded by the "Idol" alum's version of "White Christmas," the old Irving Berlin song that nobody gets enough of, no matter who sings the song. "White Christmas" was released as a promotional single three days ahead of "Underneath The Tree."
Taste of Country's Christina Vinson said of the song: ["Underneath The Tree"] is "... everything a Christmas song could want: a jazzy, big band sound, saxophone and bells ringing, all bottled up in an optimistic and catchy holiday track. Clarkson shines in this song..."
And there's more: "... ‘Underneath the Tree’ evokes a certain sound that so many holiday songs have..."
Los Angeles Times' Mike Wood said the song was "remarkably cheery."
And MTV's Jenna Hally Rubenstein calls the song an "instant Christmas classic."
Rubenstein believes the song is on a par with Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas Is You" and gushes: "Flanked by classic Christmasy, bells a-jangin', twinkly sounds a-sparklin', and an uptempo piano lick that we can all but guarantee will soundtrack a "Christmas shopping scene" in this year's go-to holiday rom-com, "Underneath The Tree" has Kelly claiming that no Christmas day is complete without her man..."
Wrapped in Red is a mix of Christmas and holiday standards and contains 14 tracks (16 if you opt for the Target Deluxe Edition). Clarkson herself helped pen five of the songs, including "Underneath The Tree," which was co-written with Greg Kurstin, the producer of her massive hit "Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)."
The Texas singer also included a couple of collaborations in the mix, singing with Ronnie Dunn (on "Baby, It's Cold Outside") and Reba McEntire and Trisha Yearwood (on "Silent Night").
Wrapped In Red is Clarkson's first holiday album but she's recorded and released several Christmas-oriented songs since taking home the "American Idol" title in 2002, such as "Oh, Holy Night" and "My Grown-up Christmas List," which appeared on the 2003 release, American Idol: Great Holiday Classics. In 2011, she released "I'll Be Home For Christmas," which was included on her iTunes Sessons EP. And in 2012, she recorded a duet with Blake Shelton for his No. 1 Billboard Holiday Albums entry Cheers, It's Christmas: "There's A New Kid In Town."
Wrapped In Red is scheduled for an Oct. 29 release.