Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square includes a multitude of holiday-themed musical numbers, but which ones stand out the most? The Netflix movie includes several song reprisals, resulting in a soundtrack that constantly evolves during the 98-minute runtime. Overall, Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square is most entertaining when the performers act natural, which allows for more authentic interpretations of the lyrical content.
In Christmas on the Square, Regina Fuller (Christine Baranski) plans to transform a community that was founded by her father decades prior. Shortly before Christmas, the businesswoman arrives in Fullerville and announces that the town square will be developed into a mall. Regina subsequently delivers eviction notices to the locals, and clashes with a pastor named Christian Hathaway (Josh Segarra). Meanwhile, an actual angel, portrayed by Dolly Parton, watches everything play out and does her best to create change where necessary. Directed by Debbie Allen, Christmas on the Square released in November 2020 on Netflix.
Netflix knows a thing or two about holiday movies, as evidenced by recent releases such as Holidate, Operation Christmas Drop, and The Princess Switch: Switched Again, to name a few. However, Christmas on the Square aligns more with a production such as Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey, which is full of big musical numbers. Christmas on the Square does indeed have some powerful tracks, but its collective songs are typically short and sweet, and sometimes a little bit sassy. Here’s our ranking of the featured songs in the Netflix holiday musical Christmas on the Square.
Dolly Parton’s Christmas On The Square Songs, Ranked: 20-16
- “Maybe, Just Maybe” – Josh Segarra and Mary Lane Haskell – Pastor Christian and wife Jenna briefly harmonize about their financial future and about having a child, shortly before Regina breaks the bad news about their eviction notice. It’s an oh-so-sweet song, one that demonstrates the couple’s love and loyalty, but it’s also a bit on the cheesy side. Later on, Baranski provides a different vocal element with multiple reprises.
- “Rearview Mirror” – Dolly Parton – Dolly sings briefly in various musical interludes while Regina recalls a misunderstanding with Carl that led to a pregnancy. The sequence is touching, and boosts the narrative forward, but there’s not much lyrical depth.
18. “Just Dance” – Ensemble – There’s a fascinating dynamic at work in this turn-back-the-clock slow jam, as there’s a dramatic narrative tone that contrasts with some sensual dancing. Overall, the throwback song adds a different flavor to the Netflix film, and teases a late-movie character reveal.
17. “So Sorry” – Christine Baranski and Jeannie Mason – In this track, Regina essentially raps about ruining Christmas for everybody. It’s more of a spoken work song that demonstrates the character’s authority, along with Felicity’s willingness to follow rather than lead. “So Sorry” doesn’t hold up well on its own, but does improve through a fusion with “Gotta Get Out,” in which Baranski returns to her singing voice.
16. “Happy Town” – Ensemble – In another musical interlude, Regina remembers a high school dance that’s full of funky dancers and confident young men. There’s strong choreography to appreciate, but the song sequence focuses more on the characters than the performances. Still, the overall vibe suggests that “Happy Town” could be the title of a Netflix spinoff.
Dolly Parton’s Christmas On The Square Songs, Ranked: 15-11
15. “Gotta Get Out” – Christine Baranski – Baranski makes a strong first impression as the shades-wearing businesswoman Regina Fuller. The lyrics are brief and to the point, which essentially makes “Gotta Get Out” an expositional track rather than a proper performance song.
14. “Forgive Me” – Christine Baranski – While Baranski doesn’t have the strongest vocals of the main cast, “Forgive Me” does stand out as a big moment in the Netflix production. The speech/song puts the central actress center stage, and gets the job done in terms of the lyrical message.
13. “Christmas on the Square” – Ensemble – An extension of “Christmas Is,” this song doesn’t have much oomph, but it’s so much fun given all the choreography and holiday spirit. For the movie’s storyline, it gives the audience a good feel for the focal community and how everybody gets down.
12. “Christmas Is” – Dolly Parton, Christine Baranski, and Ensemble – The Netflix film begins with Dolly singing to the audience and establishing the spirit of the narrative. Disguised as a street beggar, the angel character holds a symbolic “change” box, and the performance precedes a street choreography sequence featuring dogs wearing holiday flair. It’s an acceptable tone-setter but won’t give anybody goosebumps.
11. “When an Angel Knows Your Dreams” – Dolly Parton, Mary Lane Haskell, and Ensemble – Jenna briefly sings with Dolly the angel in a duet that doesn’t overreach but also doesn’t have the duration to feel viscerally impactful.
Dolly Parton’s Christmas On The Square Songs, Ranked: 10-6
10. “My Christmas Prayer” – Dolly Parton – After a major final act reveal, Dolly the angel spreads her wings in a church and vocally punctuates the moment. It’s a brief yet tender performance, a musical interlude that gives the audience some time to decompress before a climactic character speech.
9. “A Father’s Prayer” – Douglas Sills – In a music interlude, Douglas Sills briefly performs in a flashback sequence about Regina’s father. Later, during a hospital sequence, Matthew Johnson builds upon the original interpretation with some outstanding vocal runs as Mack.
8. “You” – Josh Segarra and Mary Lane Haskell – Pastor Christian and Jenna harmonize about their strong relationship while walking the town square. It’s one of the more poignant songs in the Netflix movie, and one that feels more natural than the pair’s previous track, “Maybe, Just Maybe.”
7. “Keeper of Memories” – Treat Williams – Treat Williams performs a moving song about his antique shop and life perspective, with the vocals matching the humble nature of the character. The actor makes the most of his screen time by physically conveying Carl’s bittersweet feelings about the past and present, which distracts attention from the just-ok vocals.
6. “Fairy Tale” – Selah Kimbro Jones and Christine Baranski – In this well-sung duet, Regina bonds with child bartender Violet (Selah Kimbro Jones) while discussing the realities of life. Whereas most of the Netflix songs have a big theatrical vibe, this one works especially well with its contained setting and character contrasts. Sometimes, less is more.
Dolly Parton’s Christmas On The Square Songs, Ranked: 5-1
5. “Everybody Needs an Angel” – Dolly Parton – Dolly the angel shows up at Regina’s home and makes the woman question her mental health. The song plays out like a transitional interlude for “Light Your Lamp,” with the featured performer showing off her talent before making some clever one-liners. In the second half of the film, Dolly livens up the tone during a comedic and conversational reprise with Jeanine Mason.
4. “Light Your Lamp” – Dolly Parton – Dolly arguably provides her strongest vocal with this nostalgic track, one that functions to remind Regina of her father’s legacy as the founder of Fullerville. For Baranski’s character, “Light Your Lamp” marks a turning point in the Netflix flick, as she seems to better understand her purpose, even if she’s still a bit skeptical.
3. “Queen of Mean” – Jenifer Lewis – As Mergeline, Jenifer Lewis shows off her vocal talent and charisma in a Regina take-down song. Lyrically, the track provides some key contextual information about Regina, and the central performer steals the show with her vocal theatrics.
2. “Wickedest Witch of the Middle” – Ensemble – In “Wickedest Witch of the Middle, the townsfolk bond together via their shared negative feelings for Regina. There’s a devilish tone to the song, with the lyrics quickly reinforcing Baranski’s character as the baddie after she briefly shows her humanity in “Light Your Lamp.” Overall, it’s a purely entertaining song that allows the whole cast to strut their stuff in the Netflix production.
1. “Try” – Dolly Parton, Josh Segarra, Mary Lane Haskell, and the Ensemble – After confronting Regina, Pastor Christian leads his congregation in a palms-to-the-sky song about leadership and preparation. Segarra initially receives the visual spotlight while roaming the central aisle, but the song turns into an ensemble performance with the inclusion of Williams and Lewis. By the end, Johnson (Mack) elevates the song by displaying his extraordinary range and control. And in a final act gospel reprise, Lewis blows the roof off as Margeline with some amazing vocals. By the end, Dolly closes out the movie with another soaring rendition.
Christmas on the Square was written for Netflix by Maria S. Schlatter.
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