Music Review: “Merry Christmas Baby” (CD Single)

I have to be honest here, Disney Channel was a large part of my childhood. Some of my earliest memories involve rocking out to Disney CDs on my portable CD player. These albums often consisted of songs by artists such as Aly & AJ, the Jonas Brothers, and Miley Cyrus– some of the most popular Hollywood Records artists of the early-to-mid 2000’s. And I remember one year– I think it was the fall of 2007– when my mom bought me another Disney CD as a back-to-school present. That CD was Jordan Pruitt’s debut album, “No Ordinary Girl.” I didn’t understand the lyrical content at the time, but looking back on it now, the lyrics seem to resonate with my life more than ever.

Since then, I have been a fan of Jordan’s music. From her first recording effort (which I still have on an actual CD, to this day, almost 10 years later), to her short appearance on NBC’s The Voice in 2012… she even answered my question about “Outside Looking In” (one of her most popular songs) during a Facebook live chat the same year (before Facebook Live actually became a thing). And in 2014, when I signed up for Twitter, she was one of my first followers. So it’s no surprise that I’m excited about her latest single, “Merry Christmas Baby.

The Christmas song, released independently on December 1st, is beautiful. Not just the lyrical content and the instrumentation, but the story behind it. In an interview with JustJaredJr.com last month, Pruitt said that the inspiration behind the track “came from a very dear friend who passed away this year. She was obsessed with Christmas and I really wrote this song not only for her, but to keep her spirit alive through a song.”

It’s fairly short– at just 3 minutes and 17 seconds– but it’s powerful nonetheless. With little background instruments (other than a piano), Jordan recalls some of her favorite Christmas memories through lyrics like this: “Ornaments we made hang by a string / The stockings filled with no ordinary things / And Mamma sittin’ by the fire / Sister singing like a choir… As long as we’re together / December lasts forever / One year in the making / So merry Christmas, baby…” The refrain, which features a lot of falsetto, is a touching tribute to the singer’s friend– but with lyrics like “one year in the making,” it could also refer to Jordan’s husband, singer and former Voice contestant Brian Fuente.

The bridge of the song, probably my favorite part, is where we really hear how talented she is. “Christmas never lets me down / And there’s no place that I’d rather be than right here / Right now…” Jordan sings this part with so much power and control; and there’s this soulful aspect to her voice that reminds me of Stacie Orrico or Kelly Clarkson. (In fact, there are moments that remind me of several songs by both of these artists)

All in all, “Merry Christmas Baby” is one of my favorite Christmas songs this year. It demonstrates the kind of talent that I never heard during Pruitt’s time with Disney. Maybe the executives over at the Mouse House thought it would be a selling feature, but with some of her older songs (2008’s “Permission to Fly” comes to mind), she would over-stylize to the point that the song would sound… out-of-place, for lack of a better adjective. This seems to occur less on her original songs (“Outside Looking In” and the 2007 promotional Christmas single, “Celebrate Love“, for example); and now that she’s an independent artist and not being held back by major-label executives, perhaps we will hear more of her true talent in the near future. 5/5 stars.

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