Thanks in large part to a cast that includes Ricky Martin and Anika Noni Rose, Netflix’s Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey has gifted us with nine catchy new holiday songs. The Christmas musical includes original music performed by Rose, Martin, and other all-star actors like Forest Whitaker and Keegan-Michael Key. Each song combines emotional lyrics with captivating beats that will have you scrambling to add them to your 2020 holiday playlist.
The original musical takes place in a fantasy world where magic exists, where Jeronicus Jangle (Whitaker) used to be the most adored inventor in the town where he operated his once-popular toy shop. After his apprentice betrays him, he loses his magical abilities and his desire to invent. But when his granddaughter Journey (Madalen Mills) visits him, she hopes to reignite inspiration with the creativity she no doubt inherited from the down-on-his-luck inventor. To bring Jeronicus and Journey's story to life, eight-time Grammy winner — and frequent Bruno Mars collaborator — Philip Lawrence and Davy Nathan teamed up on each of the new songs, including one written by Mr. Chrissy Teigen, John Legend.
Every musical performance in Jingle Jangle is impressive, but there are definitely a few that I cannot get out of my head. So, after grooving along to these brand new holiday hits, it's only fitting to rank them from pretty great to instant classic.
9. “Borrow Indefinitely”
Every song on the soundtrack for this film is so well performed that it is almost painful to determine my least favorite tune. Martin croons “Borrow Indefinitely” early on in the movie and it's no surprise that the music superstar nails it. The song blends spoken word and song as Martin’s character Don Juan Diego tries to manipulate young Gustafson (Miles Barrow). The only reason “Borrow Indefinitely” is last on this list is because I wanted more. It is the shortest original song on the soundtrack and the only time we get to hear Martin’s vocals in the movie. If it were a bit longer, it would easily make the top five.
8. “Not The Only One”
“Not The Only One” is our introduction to Journey played by newcomer Madalen Mills. The young actor has an impressive handle on this emotional tune about not fitting in, especially considering Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey is her first film. Similar to “Borrow Indefinitely,” Mills' first big number ends pretty quickly and is a simple tune, compared to everything else we see in the movie.
7. “Over and Over”
I already knew Whitaker’s talent was limitless, but it was still impressive to hear him take on this emotional ballad. In “Over and Over,” Jeronicus laments over his fractured family life and questions what his life would be like if he had not lost faith in himself and his abilities. It is the first time we see Jeronicus being vulnerable. Overall, Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey is a pretty upbeat, joyful story. So, this song is toward the bottom of the list simply because it is not as uplifting as the others. The track is necessary for Jeronicus’s character development, but it's not exactly a holiday hit.
6. “Square Root of Possible”/ “Square Root of Possible” (Reprise)
Journey’s second song is, thankfully, a full on musical number. She gets to show the full range of her angelic voice in “Square Root of Possible” as she dances around Jeronicus’s toy shop. The song also hits after a series of sad storylines, so it delivers as a much needed mood booster. And since Journey is our star, her big song later plays as a reprise — the last song we hear before the credits roll.
5. “This Day” Cover
Grammy-winner Usher and singer Kiana Ledé’s cover of “This Day” plays over the end credits — the song is so catchy that of course it got the radio-friendly treatment. The production is not as grand as the version in the movie, but it still includes a choir and plenty of runs. I don't always love the pop versions of movie musical songs, but Usher and Ledé's beautiful harmonies make this one work.
4. “Magic Man G”
It's a well known movie musical rule that the villain has to perform one of the best songs on the soundtrack (see, for example: Keith David's Dr. Facilier singing “Friends On The Other Side” in The Princess and The Frog) and “Magic Man G” does not disappoint. Keegan-Michael Key makes the most of his solo moment and goes all out for the jazzy tune, even topping it off with a tribute to James Brown. The actor, known for his comedy, leans more heavily on his playful side than his sinister one, which really works here. Can we give him a dance break in the middle of all his future movies, please?
3. “Miles and Miles”
While Lisa Davina Phillip performs this song onscreen as the hilarious Ms. Johnston, she gets a little help from musician Marisha Wallace behind the scenes for the vocals. Phillips theatrically tries to entice her dearest Jerry with this song as a trio of singers appear almost magically in Jeronicus’ pawn shop to provide background vocals while Ms. J sings endless runs. With its smooth, old-school R&B production, “Miles and Miles” instantly became one of my favorites.
2. “This Day”
The first song in a musical sets the tone and “This Day” does that perfectly. Young Jeronicus (Justin Cornwell) makes a grand entrance with the track and immediately rings in a feeling of Christmas cheer while Joanne Jangle’s (Sharon Rose) voice elevates the duet. Once the choir kicks in, it's on. Even without all the characters dancing in the street, it's a spectacular opening number.
1. “Make It Work”
“This Day” was going to be number one on this list until I heard the first note in “Make It Work.” The song is so obviously written by Grammy-winning songwriter John Legend, and I spent the entire movie waiting for Anika Noni Rose's character Jessica to sing. Thankfully, the song made up for that lost time by showcasing Rose's mind-blowing vocals. While Rose shares the track with Whitaker, its her unparalleled range that makes it what it is. If the entire movie was just this scene with Rose, it would have been just as great.