“Underneath the Tree” by Kelly Clarkson
There’s a popular misconception that suicide rates peak during Christmastime, which by the way is actually false. But the reason that urban legend has been able to persist is because we all know that the holiday season is a time of year when many people tend to get in their feelings. And that includes Kelly Clarkson herself, who admitted that she “wrote this… song” while “crying (her) face off, which happens even at Christmastime”.
She was also empathetic enough to recognize that the Christmas holidays are accompanied by a plethora of emotions. So when Kelly penned this piece, she set out to create a holiday piece for everyone “feeling lost” and “sad”.
Apparently that backdrop is meant to serve as the premise behind this narrative, as we discover that the established norm for the vocalist is to be “alone on Christmas day”. But in more recent times, she has made acquaintance with the addressee, who reads like her romantic interest.
So what Kelly is proclaiming is this individual being ‘all she needs underneath the tree’. Or stated otherwise, the vocalist isn’t such that she requires material gifts, as is Christmas tradition, to enjoy the holiday. Instead, what she’s looking forward to most is spending time with the addressee.
And perhaps needless to say, this thesis sentiment that we come across commonly in modern-day Christmas songs, as seemingly established by Mariah Carey.
As put forth, the vocalist is the one who has an emotional dependency on the addressee. But maybe, when keeping Clarkson’s aforenoted explanation in mind, it can be said that this piece is sympathetic to the person being sung to also.
In other words, the holiday season isn’t only such that some people have the need for the company of loved ones. This is because on the other side of that coin, some of us want to feel needed also. But that said, maybe one day in the near future popular musicians of today will find a way to encapsulate that emotional aspect of Christmastime without always casting it in a romantic-sounding context.
Facts about “Underneath the Tree”
More so than any other American Idol champion thus far, Kelly Clarkson has proceeded to carve out a viable mainstream music industry career in the aftermath of her reality TV triumphs. For instance, in 2013, she dropped a studio/Christmas album, “Wrapped in Red”, that proceeded to achieve RIAA platinum status.
The album’s lead single, “Underneath the Tree”, came out through RCA Records on November 5th of that year. And individually it also went platinum in Denmark and the United Kingdom. Furthermore, it charted impressively in over two dozen nations. In the process, it topped both the US and Canadian Adult Contemporary charts.
The above-noted chart success is actually that which this song has garnered from 2013 and up until the writing of this post. That is to say that “Underneath the Tree” has, up until this point (i.e. 2022), charted every year since it has been released. Owing to this, it has established itself as a contemporary Christmas classic.
NOTE: “Underneath the Tree” was also a Top-10 hit in these countries:
This track was produced and co-written by Greg Kurstin, one of the best composers in the game. The song’s other writer is of course Clarkson herself.
The music video to this song was directed by prominent industry figure Hamish Hamilton.
The first time Clarkson performed “Underneath the Tree” live on television was via the 26 November 2013. The performance took place on The Today Show, the long-standing NBC morning program that is filmed in New York City.
Appearance in Christmas Movies
“Underneath the Tree” has been featured in multiple American Christmas movies. They include:
The 2016 comedy movie, “Office Christmas Party”. The movie features the likes of Jason Bateman, Olivia Munn, and Jennifer Aniston.
2019’s fantasy comedy, “Noelle”. Anna Kendrick stars as Noelle Kringle, and Bill Hader as Nick Kringle.