WATCH: Kelly Clarkson Covers Dolly Parton’s ‘Hard Candy Christmas’

by Clayton Edwards

The Kelly Clarkson Show YouTube Channel shared Clarkson’s latest Kellyoke. It was her cover of Dolly Parton’s “Hard Candy Christmas.” In the video, Clarkson gives a performance that perfectly captures the emotion of the song. Her band’s subdued arrangement combined with the Christmas-themed decoration of the stage helps to accentuate the soulfulness of the tune.

The Kelly Clarkson Show

The Kelly Clarkson Show first aired in September of 2019. Midway through the first season, production of the show was shut down due to COVID-19. That lasted less than a month. Clarkson would go on to record shows from her home. In 2020, the show moved back to episodes filmed in the studio. There is no in-person studio audience.

Each episode features a Kellyoke segment in which Kelly Clarkson, backed by her band, performs a cover song. The covers are requested by the audience, which has led to an eclectic collection of cover songs. She has performed songs from country music contemporaries such as Dolly Parton, Shania Twain, and Tim McGraw. In fact, the first episode featured her cover of “9 to 5” by Dolly Parton. The Grammy-winning country singer has also covered songs from artists like Gwen Stefani, Joan Jett, and the Blackhearts, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, and Twenty One Pilots.

In a recent episode of the show, Kelly Clarkson talked about her love for Christmas music. She kicked her series off with a Dolly Parton cover. It seems only natural that Clarkson would cover one of Dolly’s holiday tunes. With the sheer volume of Parton’s Christmas music, it was almost inevitable.

What Is a Hard Candy Christmas?

Kelly Clarkson’s performance of the song is so emotive that you could watch it on mute and tell that she’s singing a sad song. You can see the sorrow on her face and in her eyes when she sings. It comes through clear as a bell in her voice as well. So, what is a hard candy Christmas and why is it so sad?

The phrase hard candy Christmas refers to celebrating the holiday in hard times. It’s a Christmas on which parents can only afford to give inexpensive hard candies to their children for Christmas. It was also referred to as penny candy because each piece only cost a penny. The candy, they said was a metaphor for life: life can still be sweet even when times are hard.

Whether from the perspective of a parent or a child, that would be a tough Christmas. Having this context gives the lyric and Kelly Clarkson’s performance a little more weight.