"Merry Christmas Eve"
Who knew that Better Than Ezra even made a Christmas song? And what a great song it is. Rather than beating you over the head with the warm fuzzies, it manages to offhandedly capture some of the most elemental parts of the holiday. Some of what they mention are transcendentally important ("a midnight Mass for a birthday," "at the airport families wait on cue"), some are great pop culture shout-outs (Miracle on 34th Street), some are tiny observations ("grandmothers save paper to use next year"), but all ring very true.
"Promises to Keep"
"Old City Bar"
Tran-Siberian Orchestra is definitely not for all tastes. Some people love them, some people think of them as too manufactured and gimmicky. While most of their music is hit-or-miss for me, their first album, Christmas Eve and Other Stories, is on my permanent Christmas playlist. "Promises To Keep" and "Old City Bar" are my favorites. Unlike much of TSO's music, which typically goes into hair rock/ synthesizer/ Meat Loaf territory, these two songs are so wonderfully subtle, both in regards to the music and the lyrics. Even the use of the children's choir in "Promises to Keep" seems utterly fitting. "Old City Bar" is perhaps one of the most underrated of TSO's songs. Not only does it promote the importance of acting kind to each other, it accomplishes this in a perfectly understated way without resorting to emotional blackmail or manipulative measures (I'm looking at you, "Christmas Shoes").
Judging from the amount of people I know from Tennessee who hate this song, it is obviously not universally beloved. However, I happen to enjoy this song (partially because I am originally from Tennessee), and it never really seems like the Christmas season to me until I hear this song. Try to ignore Amy's totally 1980s hair, makeup, and clothes from that horrible album cover.
"What Christmas Means to Me"
After all of those slow Christmas songs, I figured that we needed something a bit more upbeat. Actually, I think that, with this song, Stevie completely skips upbeat and goes all the way to blissfully happy. What's more, he is able to do it and not seem completely cheesy or insincere.