This past weekend, the new original holiday movie, Dashing in December, premiered on Paramount Network with simulcasts on Pop, TV Land, and Logo. It made headlines for centering around a same-sex love story and starring two out actors in the lead roles.
Dashing in December also featured a stacked soundtrack with favorite tunes from Sam Smith, Shania Twain, and Kacey Musgraves, and new tracks, including one from country crooner Cody Belew. The Nashville-based singer-songwriter appeared on the third season of NBC’s The Voice and has since made a name for himself in the Music City scene — especially because he is one of only a handful of out country artists.
Belew’s new song, “Hang Your Hat on My Christmas Tree,” was featured in Dashing in December. In addition to the jamboree of a music video — there’s line dancing! — Belew also released a cute behind-the-scenes clip taking fans inside Santa’s Pub. He’s even shown donning a rhinestoned Christmas sweater with a cowboy hat. Talk about gay apparel!
Belew spoke with NewNowNext about filming his music video for “Hang Your Hat on My Christmas Tree,” how he became involved with Dashing in December, and what is his favorite country Christmas songs are. Spoiler alert: Dolly Parton made the list!
It seemed like you were having fun on the music video set. Do you have a favorite memory from filming?
I think my favorite memory from set has to be filming the line-dancing scene. I was so proud of my friends that learned the choreography on their own time and showed up ready to kick up some sawdust! We were sore the next day, but it was all well worth the effort.
How did you become involved with Dashing in December?
A total fluke! It all started with a random Instagram message from someone that said they had just discovered my music and wanted to let me know how much they enjoyed it. That person just so happened to be Jake Helgren, the writer-director-producer of the movie! Of course I made sure to let him know that I was available for any role requiring an inescapable Southern drawl. While he didn’t have any part’s on deck within those parameters, he wondered if I might be interested in writing a demo pitch for this line-dancing scene for an upcoming Christmas rom-com. The rest is Christmas history.
Why do you think there are so many holiday movies or specials with LGBTQ characters and storylines this year?
That’s what I want to know! When we started that conversation about Dashing in December back in the late summer, it was to be the first LGBTQ storyline of its kind. It seems like every platform has their own hat to throw in the ring. But, you know, I think it’s a great thing. Remember the days of those obscure, hard to find, low-rent LGBT movies? We’re mainstream, baby!
Do you think country music has become more accepting of queer artists?
Some days, yes, and some days, no. I think about those artists that have seemingly muffled which parts to express and which parts to keep to themselves. We’re all entitled to our own levels of comfort where that’s concerned, but sometimes I wonder if it’s more a play to the broader country music base, and less about being uncomfortable with fully representing who they are. I have to believe it’s a business decision on their part. Though those of us that lead with transparency may get a little kick-back, I find that the outpouring of positivity from fans and supporters far outweighs the appeal of trying to reach the broadest audience. It’s going to take that transparency and authenticity to get us over the hilltop. I know now that that’s my cross to carry.
Do you have a favorite country Christmas song?
I have too many! But the top of the list belongs to these: “Hard Candy Christmas” by Dolly Parton, “Who Would Imagine a King” by Whitney Houston, “Celebrate Me Home” by Kenny Loggins… don’t make me keep going!
Where did you get that cowboy hat Christmas sweater? I need one.
Isn’t it the GOAT!? I bought the “blank” sweater from Amazon. It was basically just a screen-printed pattern in white ink. I took it to my favorite vintage store in Nashville, Starstruck Vintage, and left it in the nimble hands of owner Shane Markus. She’s only the best rhinestoner in town. You should’ve seen my face when I picked it up. Don’t be surprised if it ends up framed in a shadow box!