The hits keep on coming! My first feature film, Uncommon Law, is now available for streaming and digital download from Vimeo On Demand! For the low, low price of only $9.99, you get the movie, the blooper reel, and the audio commentary. And if you prefer DVD or Blu-Ray, you can still preorder a copy in the shop!
This movie has been my baby for the last five years, and today marks the first day it’s officially available to be watched by people all over the world! To say this is a dream come true would be an understatement. I hope you’ll give it a watch and that you enjoy watching it half as much as I enjoyed making it!
After five long years, the time has finally come for the release of Uncommon Law on DVD & Blu-Ray! It’s been a crazy journey getting to this point, and I’m thrilled to finally share it with the world. Uncommon Law is now available for pre-order in the shop!
- Special Features include a blooper reel and audio commentary with writer/director Brian Work, actor Mick Taylor, and production manager Amy Morrow.
- Blu-Rays cost $20 and DVDs cost $15.
- Shipping is free within the United States.
- Discs will ship on or before November 15, 2016.
About Uncommon Law:
After years of bailing each other out of bad dates by pretending to be married, best friends and longtime roommates Brendan & Melissa receive a court notice that they are now common law married.
Uncommon Law was written & directed by Brian Work, and stars Mick Taylor, Christie Vozniak, Myles Grier, Jules Nobles, Rob Epstein, Mandi Christine Kerr, Kyle Tutton, & Lacey Patten.
- The World of King Arthur by Christopher Snyder: I’ve been doing a lot of research on Arthurian mythology, and this is one of the best resources I’ve found thus far.
- Batman: Hush by Jeph Loeb/Jim Lee: This is the book that got me into reading comics. My roommate at the time handed me the first issue, and I got hooked pretty quick.
- Nightwing Vol. 1: A Knight in Bludhaven by Chuck Dixon/Scott McDaniel: Nightwing’s my favorite comic book character, and this is the beginning of Dixon’s great run on the title.
- Kingdom Come by Mark Waid/Alex Ross: This whole graphic novel is a work of art. Fascinating storyline with amazing artwork.
- You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) by Felicia Day: I’m a big fan of Felicia Day. Her “just do it” attitude is inspiring and uplifting for creative types looking for the push they need to make something big happen for themselves. But most importantly, this book was important to me for helping me come to terms with some of my own struggles with anxiety and depression.
- Timeline by Michael Crichton: My favorite Michael Crichton book. I vividly remember being engrossed in this book during high school, and then being extremely let down when I saw the movie.
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7) by J.K. Rowling: I didn’t read the Harry Potter books until last year (I know, I missed the boat there),
- A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin: Throughout high school, I didn’t read a whole lot. The vast majority of my reading during that time was fanfiction. A Game of Thrones is what got me back into reading, and ever since then Martin has been one of my biggest influences as a writer.
- Paper Towns by John Green: I’ve started getting into YA lit over the last couple years as I’ve been wanting to write something for that audience, and John Green’s books have really struck a chord with me.
- The High King by Lloyd Alexander: I loved The Prydain Chronicles growing up. The High King struck me with how epic it was, and with how ruthless Alexander was with his characters.
- Changes by Jim Butcher: The Dresden Files books have passed A Song of Ice & Fire as my favorite series, and Changes is my favorite book in that series. You want to talk about a book that changes the entire complexion of a series, this is it. The whole second half is just a non-stop, edge of your seat thrill ride.
- William Shakespeare: The Complete Works: Originally I was going to include Macbeth and Much Ado on this list, but rather than cut something else I just went with Shakespeare’s complete works instead. I’ve always been a fan of Shakespeare, but somehow in the last year I’ve found an affinity for analyzing and directing his work.
- The Collected Plays of Neil Simon, Vol. 1: I did a study on Neil Simon in college, reading and analyzing 20 of his plays and then writing a play in his style. Helped me gain a whole new appreciation for his work.
- The Lion in Winter by James Goldman: My favorite play. Even though I’ve mostly transitioned to writing and directing, this is one play that I’d still love to perform in.
- Improvise: Scene from the Inside Out by Mick Napier: A must read for anyone involved in improv, sketch comedy, or acting in general.
- Directing Actors by Judith Weston: I love the way Weston talks about working with actors, communicating with them on their level and using playable direction. That’s guided me as a director since I first read this book back in 2003.
- Rebel Without a Crew by Robert Rodriguez: This book helped inspire me to say to hell with the odds and try making my own movie. Granted, my first attempt in 2004 failed… as did my second attempt in 2005. But years later I would finally succeed with Uncommon Law!
- Save The Cat! by Blake Snyder: I’ve used elements of Save the Cat in every screenplay I’ve written in the last ten years. Although I’ve begun deviating from the structure he defines, it’s a wonderful starting point for anyone getting into screenwriting. And I still swear by his breakdown of genres as the best way to think about story.
- Outlining Your Novel by K.M. Weiland: After years of writing by the seat of my pants, I picked up Outlining Your Novel and used the system within to outline Into The Black. Thanks to that, I’ve written more on ITB than on any of my previous writing projects that fizzled out partway through. 102k words and still going strong!
- On Writing by Stephen King: Part memoir, part book on writing craft, tons of valuable information for writers.
This month I’m participating in Camp NaNoWriMo with the goal of wrapping up the first draft of Into The Black, the fantasy novel I’ve been working on. I’ll make another post later to go into more detail on that.
While talking with a couple friends who are also participating, the subject of character sheets come up. I’m a big fan of character sheets. I’ve got one that I fill out for all of the notable characters in any fiction project or screenplay that I write, and another more in-depth one that I use for POV characters. The sheets I use were pieced together from multiple ones that I found online (credit: dehydromon & The Lazy Scholar) and modified to fit my needs. They’re constantly evolving as I find new information I want to include, & a lot of my projects require specific fields that aren’t a part of the base sheet you’ll find below. Change yours up and make them your own!
Character sheets are good for a lot of things, but there are three main reasons why I love them:
1. Fleshing Out A Character
This is the obvious reason. After I became a member of Team Outline, I started to really enjoy developing my characters before I ever started to write the story itself. I found it extremely helpful as a means of fleshing out characters who I hadn’t quite grasped yet. It’s easy to come up with ideas for POV characters and other main characters as you write, but too often minor characters fall by the wayside. Having a predefined set of information to fill out gave me a great starting point, and in the process I’d usually grasp onto something that gave me a solid idea of who the character is.
Ideally, every character should have a rich enough backstory and defined personality that you could tell the whole story from their perspective. Now, it would be a very different story from the one you want to tell, which is why you didn’t choose them as a POV. But if you’ve taken the time to dig deep into that character, identify who they are, where they came from, and what makes them tick, they’re going to jump off the page a whole hell of a lot more than one that’s just a generic stock friend/co-worker/family member.
2. Differentiate Characters
Worried that your characters are too similar? At a glance, you can check their sheets and make sure they have distinctive appearances, backgrounds, likes/dislikes, you name it! Sometimes this has to do with physical characteristics, which is usually the audience’s first impression of a character and how they keep them separate in their minds, and sometimes it has to do with how they speak or where they come from. Having character sheets saves you from having to dig through your memory or hundreds of pages of story to make sure you didn’t make five characters who all unintentionally look like Dolph Lundgren.
3. Keeping Track of New Information
This has to do with more than just looking back at your original notes to make sure you got so-and-so’s hair color correct. As I’m writing and I come up with more information or details about a character, I’ll go back and add that information to their sheet. That way, instead of having to find the specific chapter where I mentioned something, I can just refer to the character sheet and find the information (along with a footnote saying where in the story it came up.)
This is where the three sections at the end (Biography, Additional Notes, & Things To Include Later) come in handy. Biography is where I place background information & things from the character’s past. Additional Notes can be anything that doesn’t fit into the other sections, from personality traits and desires to questions that I still need to answer. And then Things To Include Later is where I put ideas for things I want the character to do later in the story (obviously.)
Place of Birth:
First Appearance in the Story:
Theme Song (what song best describes this character?):
How does the character dress?
Equipment or anything else they carry with them:
Habits (smoking, drinking etc.):
Talents, Skills, & Special Training:
Most Important Relationships
Additional Notes on This Character
Things To Include Later
Death (If Applicable)
Age at Death:
Place of Death:
Manner of Death:
This past March I was given the opportunity to direct a production of William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing at my old stomping grounds, Parkview High School in Lilburn, GA. I’ve worked with the students there several times before, including a 24 Hour Play Festival I ran for them back in December, however this was my first time directing a full play over there. But when your favorite teacher from high school asks for your help, that’s what you do!
I was only getting half the class for my show, and the class had significantly more girls than guys. I already knew the teacher was going to need a lot of the guys for hers, so I decided to go a non-traditional route with mine. As much as I love Much Ado, it suffers from an unhealthy dose of misogyny, being a product of the time in which it was written. I’m an unabashed feminist, so I decided that the overarching theme of the production would be “screw the patriarchy.” Rather than gender bend characters, I opted instead to maintain the genders of the characters and cast women to play the members of the patriarchy as pants roles. It created a dynamic that wound up working extremely well, changing up the power structure and highlighting the misogyny in the play. It’s so commonplace in media to see men making sexist remarks to women that it’s easy for those occurrences to skate by. When you have women making those same comments to other women, it shines a light on the absurdity of it. In the end, we did the show using only three male actors (for Benedick, Claudio, & Borachio.) As for the style of the play, we went with steampunk because I wanted something that was close to our world but different enough that it created a little separation. Also, I just like steampunk, and the kids jumped at the chance to make their own steampunk costumes.
I made some cuts to the script, both for time and because I needed to get it down to 16 actors. I condensed the non-Dogberry portion of the Watch down to Verges & Seacole, and cut Antonio entirely, giving most of his lines to Balthasar. The only doublecasting was with Ursula/Sexton, and the only full scene to get cut was Act I, Scene II (between Antonio & Don Pedro.) The majority of the other cuts were to remove lines that referenced older myths & legends, and other things that would have been completely lost on today’s audiences and didn’t do anything to further the plot. I also edited a couple of the problematic (read: racist & anti-Semitic) lines. “If I do not love her, I am a Jew” became “if I do not love her, I am a fool,” (borrowed that change from Joss Whedon’s version) and “I’ll hold my mind were she an Ethiope” became “I’ll hold my mind, e’en were she uncomely.” Just in case anyone is interested in using my edit of the script, I’ve made it available to download here. And if you use it, please let me know! I’d love to know how it works out for you.
This was my first time directing Shakespeare, and it turns out I was in good company because most of the kids had never performed it. They were understandably intimidated, so a big part of my goal was to help them feel comfortable with the language. We spent the first three weeks of rehearsal in the classroom analyzing the text and going through it line-by-line so they knew the meaning of every single word they said. It was a given that a lot of the language would be lost on the high school audience, so it was extraordinarily important that the actors knew exactly what they were saying so the meaning would come across through them. We also did a lot of work on physicality, because I’m a big fan of physical humor and wanted to inject a lot of that into the show.
I’m happy to say that the students absolutely nailed it. From watching them, you never would have known it was their first time performing Shakespeare. They were funny as hell, and by the time we got into dress rehearsals I was getting goosebumps every time we got to the dramatic scenes. I don’t think I could have been any prouder of them if I’d tried. I can honestly say that I’d hold this production up against any college Shakespeare performance I’ve ever seen, as well as a good bit of the professional Shakespeare I’ve watched.
I was blessed with a fantastic cast and crew who made my first experience directing high school theatre such an amazing, rewarding, and unforgettable experience. Watching them get it, really get it, made my day every single time it happened, and it happened a lot. And after it was over, having a student come to me and tell me how much my belief in them made a difference in their life… Well, that meant the world to me. That right there is why teachers do this. Sometimes I wonder if students know that the whole time you’re making a difference in their lives, they’re making a difference in yours as well.
Been crazy busy for the last few months, so I’ve fallen way behind on this (and it’s also why I’ve watched so few movies lately, but incidentally has allowed for a lot of audiobooks.) So here’s a long-delayed update for something that absolutely nobody reads because I really just do it for my own benefit.
- Deadpool (2016)
- Zoolander 2 (2016)
- Zootopia (2016)
- The Loft (2015)
- Spectre (2015)
- The Voices (2015)
- The Witch (2015)
- After Earth (2013)
- Odd Thomas (2013)
- Slightly Single in L.A. (2012)
- The Strangers (2008)
- Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006)
- Pride & Prejudice (2005)
- The Cat’s Meow (2001)
- The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie (audiobook) — 4/5
- Modern Romance: An Investigation by Aziz Ansari (audiobook) — 5/5
- The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Oz #1) by L. Frank Baum (audiobook) — 4/5
- Skeleton Creek (Skeleton Creek #1) by Patrick Carman — 4/5
- 14 by Peter Clines (audiobook) — 5/5
- The De-Textbook: The Stuff You Didn’t Know About the Stuff You Thought You Knew by Cracked.com — 5/5
- I’d Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had: My Year as a Rookie Teacher at Northeast High by Tony Danza (audiobook) — 5/5
- Predator One (Joe Ledger #7) by Jonathan Maberry (audiobook) — 5/5
- Remember: The Journey to School Integration by Toni Morrison — 4/5
- Jerry Finnegan’s Sister by Jack Neary — 3/5
- Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare — 5/5
- The Only Pirate at the Party by Lindsey Stirling (audiobook) — 5/5
- Art of Dying – “Everything”
- Blue October – “Fear”
- Darius Rucker – “Miss You”
- James Bay – “Hold Back the River”
- Keith Urban – “Somewhere In My Car”
- Rise Against – “Tragedy + Time”
- The Summer Set – “Missin’ You”
- Take That – “These Days”
- Thompson Square – “I Can’t Outrun You”
- twenty one pilots – “Tear In My Heart”
- Twin Atlantic – “Fall Into The Party”
Didn’t see a lot of movies this month, but I did rewatch a couple Disney classics that I haven’t seen since I was a kid; unfortunately, for my money neither Dumbo nor The AristoCats holds up overly well, although I actually enjoyed AristoCats a bit more.
- The Last Five Years (2015)
- The Revenant (2015)
- Sisters (2015)
- Here Comes The Boom (2012)
- The I Inside (2003)
- The AristoCats (1970)
- Dumbo (1941)
- The Last American Vampire by Seth Grahame-Smith (audiobook) — 4/5
- Rot & Ruin (Rot & Ruin #1) by Jonathan Maberry — 4/5
- AFI – “A Deep Slow Panic”
- Anna Kendrick – “Still Hurting” (from The Last Five Years)
- David Bowie – “Lazarus”
- The Dreaming – “Painkillers”
- Halestorm – “I Am The Fire”
- Keira Knightley – “A Step You Can’t Take Back” (from Begin Again)
- Mumford & Sons – “Believe”
- Natalie Imbruglia – “I Will Follow You Into The Dark”
- The Struts – “Could Have Been Me”
Two movie highlights this month: The Force Awakens and Begin Again.
First, the obvious: The Force Awakens was everything I was hoping for out of a new Star Wars movie, and may have just taken the spot as my favorite of the whole series. It exceeded all of my expectations and then some. Well written, great story, awesome new characters, and superb acting all around. Daisy Ridley & John Boyega were hands down the perfect casting choices. Even BB8 was a joy to watch. This is not only the Star Wars movie that fans wanted, it’s the Star Wars movie that fans needed.
And then there was Begin Again, the movie that has quickly become one of my all-time favorites. Despite just discovering it, I’ve already watched it several times and shown it to a few of my friends. It’s a modern movie musical by John Carney (writer/director of Once.) Unlike a Broadway style musical where characters randomly burst into song, the songs in Begin Again come from the fact that the characters are musicians, and these are their songs. It has a beautiful story & music, and I absolutely love Keira Knightley in this role. Great performances all around, really. Mark Ruffalo, Catherine Keener, Adam Levine, Hailee Steinfeld… all pitch perfect. The characters feel real and have wonderful story arcs. My emotions were riding high while watching this, as it’s a cathartic, heartfelt story about moving on. Highly recommend.
- Santa’s Little Helper (2015)
- Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2015)
- Begin Again (2014)
- Horrible Bosses 2 (2014)
- The Call (2013)
- Seven Psychopaths (2012)
- Four Brothers (2005)
- Elf (2003)
- Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (2003)
- Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001)
- Trading Places (1983)
- The Dresden Files RPG Vol. 1: Your Story by Leonard Balsera
- Teaching Young Adult Literature Today: Insights, Considerations, and Perspectives for the Classroom Teacher by Jeffrey S. Kaplan
- Adam Levine – “Lost Stars”
- Begin Again Soundtrack
- Butch Walker – “Santa’Self (F*ck Your Christmas Party)”
- Keira Knightley – “Like A Fool”
- The Maine – “Santa Stole My Girlfriend”
- Relient K – “I Hate Christmas Parties”
I’ve always loved Christmas music, although as an adult my tastes have tended to lean away from the standards and more toward rock covers or original songs by rock bands. I know, I’m predictable. Anyway, this year I wanted to compile a list of my favorite Alternative Christmas songs to share with everyone. Some of these may be on the obscure side, not because I have hipster music tastes but because a lot of them came off of compilation CDs that are likely out of print (99X used to release some great Christmas albums, and I don’t know how many of those songs are now available on iTunes.) A few quick notes:
- I use Christmas as a catch-all for holiday music, as there are also some New Years songs & one Hanukkah song in here as well.
- When I say Rock, I don’t mean every song is heavy with drum solos & guitar riffs. Basically, I just mean that these aren’t your typical standards or pop songs. There’s everything here from piano rock to pop rock to metal.
- There are a number of songs that have several covers I like, so in those cases I just picked my favorite version of that particular song.
- Yeah, I know, a lot of these songs tend toward being emo or depressing. We all have our own holiday associations.
Without further adieu, here is my Alternative Christmas Top 40!
- The Fray – “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)”: I love John Lennon’s original, but there’s something about The Fray’s version that I like a little better. There’s also a version by TrancesArc that I really like.
- Paul Young – “What Christmas Means To Me”: This straddles the line between rock and pop, but I grew up on this one, so I like it.
- Billy Idol – “Yelling at the Christmas Tree”: It’s Billy Idol singing an original Christmas song, and it sounds exactly like you’d expect a Billy Idol Christmas song to sound.
- Shawn Mullins – “Lonely Ole Christmas”: This is a fun original song with a bluegrass feel to it. — Girl since you been gone there’s been some drinkin’ goin’ on, but I ain’t had an ounce of Christmas cheer this year.
- Mary’s Eyes feat. Candi Pearson – “Little Drummer Boy”: This is the rock cover that “Little Drummer Boy” deserves. I mean come on, it’s right there in the title. This song needs a great drum part & wailing rock vocals, and Mary’s Eyes delivers.
- Matthew West – “The Heart of Christmas”: The world’s in a hurry this December, city streets and shopping malls. I wish we could slow down and remember the meaning of it all
- Film – “Merry Christmas Everybody”: Keeps the poppiness of the original song by Slade, but bumps up the rock quotient for added fun.
- Rob Thomas – “A New York Christmas”: So call on your angels, your beaten and broken / It’s time that we mended so they don’t fade with the season
- Waking Jane – “Do You Hear What I Hear?”: Just a solid rock cover of this song with great guitar work. Not typically one of my favorite Christmas songs, but this version makes it work.
- Bowling For Soup – “I Miss You Most On Christmas”: Bowling For Soup is one of my favorite bands, and this original song brings their unique sound & lyrical quality into a Christmas song — I miss you when the sun starts to set / Every day on the day that we met / But I miss you most on Christmas
- Angie Aparo – “Silent Night”: The best version of this song out there, period. Angie Aparo has an amazing voice, and it feels raw, powerful, & beautiful here.
- As Tall As Lions – “It’s Only Christmas”: Well it’s Christmas time and all the lights are bright / I want to hold you close and burn them in your eyes
- Christina Perri – “Something About December”: Christina Perri has a voice that’s made for singing this sort of ballad. — We’re hanging mistletoe and hoping that it snows / I close my eyes and then I can still remember how to get back home.
- Neon Trees – “Wish List”: There’s no mistaking that this is a Neon Trees song. — I’ve been an animal since you left me / I need you wrapped under my tree / My Christmas cheer is here and ready / But where are you to set it free
- Thomas Howard – “Silent Hill”: Yes, this is a song from Dance Dance Revolution. Yes, I know that seems silly to have on a list of favorite Christmas songs. No, I will not apologize for its inclusion.
- Linkin Park – “My December”: Another song I won’t apologize for. High school emo Brian really liked “My December”, and adult slightly-less-emo Brian still thinks it’s a good song.
- Thriving Ivory – “Our December”: Not overtly Christmas themed, as it sounds similar to Thriving Ivory’s other songs (which means it sounds very pretty) — I remember streets covered white, and I remember a long tonight / Said our December will be littered with lights, and I see her walking to me
- Emily Saliers – “River”: A beautiful cover of Joanie Mitchell’s “River” by Emily Saliers of the Indigo Girls. The version I have is a live recording off 99X’s 2001 Christmas album, so I don’t know if there’s a studio recording out there anywhere.
- Butch Walker – “Santa’Self (F*ck Your Christmas Party)”: Butch Walker’s newest Christmas song about a narcissistic ex, that he just released for free last week! It should come as no surprise that I’ve got some Butch on this list, & this song comes complete with an old school sax solo.
- Left Front Tire – “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight)”: The original Ramones version is good, but I like Left Front Tire’s cover better. Bowling For Soup also has a version I really like.
- OneRepublic – “Christmas Without You”: I missed Thanksgiving, I missed a birthday or two. I didn’t make St. Valentines, but I was thinking of you. Only one thing in the world, that I couldn’t do. There’s only one thing that kills me, Christmas without you.
- Relient K – “12 Days of Christmas”: Okay, so “12 Days of Christmas” is one of those songs that people usually tolerate more than anything. That’s probably why I enjoy this version so much. Rather than making it a slog to get through to the end, it’s actually a fun, rocked out version. If you’re familiar with Eddie Izzard’s standup bit about this song, it seems like Relient K took a page from his book on the “Five golden rings” line. Plus, they do a fun little bit of adlibbing: What’s a partridge? And what’s a pear tree? I don’t know so please don’t ask me. But I can bet those are terrible gifts to get.
- Hip Heavy Lip – “You’re A Mean One Mr. Grinch”: How is this not the version of this song that everyone listens to? Hip Heavy Lip rocks it out with the perfect voice for this song, while keeping all of the charm of the original.
- All Time Low – “Merry Christmas, Kiss My Ass”: When I gave you my heart, you ripped it apart like wrapping paper trash. So I wrote you a song, hope that you sing along. And it goes, “Merry Christmas, kiss my ass!”
- SR-71 – “Christmas Is The Time To Say I Love You”: Ups the punk rock ante of Billy Squier’s original, and does it with flair.
- The Maine feat. Eisley – “Ho Ho Hopefully”: The first of The Maine’s original Christmas songs on this list. — Ho ho hopefully this holiday will make us believe that we’re exactly where we’re supposed to be
- Another Man Down – “The Dreydl Song”: How do you make “The Dreydl Song” badass? You put it in Another Man Down’s hands, and let them throw in a little Bryan Adams for good measure.
- Down to Earth Approach – “Stay”: Sweet, sad, hopeful, and I love it — It’s true, if we’ve been drinking wine all night and we watch the snow fall down, and I can’t hold out another night, then this Christmas, I’ll be asking her to stay
- Lithp – “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town”: Another badass rock version of a traditional Christmas song, which includes a few extra versus thrown in where they create a backstory for a young Santa Claus as he discovered his powers as “my favorite fat superhero.” Really, this one’s more of an original song than a cover (for a good cover of the original, check out Sugarcult’s version.) Also, sidenote: I’ve had this track for 15 years, and I just now got the pun in the band’s name.
- Goo Goo Dolls – “Better Days”: This is the kind of song that cries out to be featured in a Christmas movie, probably because it stands on its own as a good song even without the Christmas angle. — I need someplace simple where we could live, and something only you can give. And that’s faith and trust and peace while we’re alive.
- Graham Colton – “New Years Resolution”: Probably not intended as a holiday song, but it fits thematically & I’ve been listening to it a lot lately, so I’m going to include it. — I’ve got a new years resolution. I think I know what I’ve gotta do. I’ve got a new years resolution: gettin’ over you. / So here’s to the love, the love that we had. Here’s to the time, the good and the bad. Here’s to the ones you never forget. Here’s to the year that we had.
- Butch Walker – “Merry Christmas”: This may be downbeat and a little depressing, but I love the emotion in it, which is why it’s been a favorite since the Marvelous 3 version in 2000 (I list the Butch Walker version because I like his solo arrangement slightly better than the original.) — All of the times the kids are screaming the lines that say “Jingle bells, shotgun shells, daddy’s got a new 44.” Wish I could say that everything was okay, but I’d be lying like a rug on the floor.
- The Maine – “Santa Stole My Girlfriend”: It IS possible to be emo and still have a sense of humor about it. — Santa, you bitch. Didn’t get a damn thing from my Christmas list. All I got was this broken heart and that’s it. Santa, you bitch. Oh there’s only one thing that I truly wish. I wish my old girl would’ve never kissed Saint Nick.
- Anberlin – “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”: Plenty of versions of this out there, but Anberlin’s is my favorite. The arrangement is great and Stephen Christian’s voice fits perfectly. If you’re looking for one with a little more rock to it, try Injected’s cover.
- Relient K – “I Hate Christmas Parties”: Another sad & beautiful song from one of my favorite bands. — I hope it snows this week. A snowflake on your cheek would make this Christmas so beautiful. But that would just bring the pain, ’cause things can’t stay the same. These holidays won’t be wonderful. I look under the tree, but there’s nothing to see, ’cause it’s a broken heart that you’re giving me.
- Jon Bon Jovi – “Please Come Home For Christmas”: Nobody does Bon Jovi better than Bon Jovi. This one’s considered a classic now, with plenty of covers out there, but as far as I’m concerned the original is still the best. The reason is simple, & it weirdly enough comes down to a musical theatre thing. More than any other version of this song, I believe him when he sings about how the only thing that will make him happy is for her to come home for Christmas.
- Acres – “I Gotta Rock For Christmas”: Now this is how you rock out for Christmas! My favorite hard rock Christmas song, and one that deserves to be on every self-respecting rock fan’s December playlists. — On his list of naughty little kids, my name is there for all the things I did. I try to be good but I just can’t make it stick. That’s one less stop to make for jolly old Saint Nick. / I gotta rock for Christmas. / Yeah, that’s okay. It’s all I ever wanted for Christmas anyway.
- Dexter Freebish – “Last Christmas”: I have so many covers of “Last Christmas” because it’s one of my absolute favorite songs out there. It’s the original emo Christmas song, and although Wham’s version is good, there have been so many great covers done over the years. Dexter Freebish’s version is my favorite, but I also love the covers by Jimmy Eat World, The Maine, and Yuji Oda (feat. Butch Walker.)
- Dave Mellilo – “All I Want For Christmas Is You”: Mariah Carey’s original is an awesome song, and Dave Mellilo’s cover flawlessly takes it into rock territory, beating out the My Chemical Romance version for my favorite cover of this song. I hate to go back to theatre terms again, but what makes this version so great is that Mellilo fully commits to it, which makes the vocals so raw and believable.
- Royal 7 – “It Looks Like Christmas”: This is my favorite Christmas song, and I hate how no relevant results turn up on a Google search for it (in fact, I alone account for 1/3 of its plays on Last.fm.) It’s an original song from 99X’s 2002 Christmas album, and it’s a beautiful piece of music. This is a song that belongs in a movie, and if I ever make a Christmas movie (and I’m considering it), I’ll be scouring the internet for Royal 7’s contact info to see if I can use the song. Again, I love it, and only wish it was more readily available so everyone could hear it. — I’m only looking at your picture, of this time last year. It’s just another silent night. How I wish you were here. / Days go by and I wonder why the memory brings a tear to my eye. I don’t know how but I’ve got to stay strong. Looks like Christmas after all.
So there you have it! My favorite alternative Christmas songs. Let me know if you have any favorites that I didn’t mention here, or if there are any here that you listened to and now also love.
- Creed (2015)
- The Peanuts Movie (2015)
- Two Night Stand (2014)
- Last Night (2010)
- Rocky (1976)
- Dracula by Bram Stoker (audiobook) — 3/5