Country crooner Cameron Hawthorn gets both his literal and figurative kicks on the dance floor in his latest video, depicting a Tennessee fantasy that’s inclusive and sexy.
HuffPost got an exclusive first look at “Oh Hot Damn!” — the follow-up to Hawthorn’s March breakout, “Dancing in the Living Room.” In the new video, the Nashville-based singer-songwriter wanders into a saloon, where he exchanges flirtatious glances with a mysterious cowboy.
As Hawthorn joins the object of his affection in a hip-swiveling line dance, the video suggests a rush of physical chemistry as it transitions from black and white to vibrant color. (Catch “Oh Hot Damn!” above.)
“To be frank, it’s the first song I wrote about sex,” he told HuffPost. “I was thinking about line dancing and how people — when they go to line dance, they own it, you know? They don’t care what anybody thinks. So it’s about being turned on by somebody and finding the freedom to express it.”
The Tuesday release of “Oh Hot Damn!” comes months after “Dancing in the Living Room” positioned Hawthorn as the latest member in a small but vocal group of openly LGBTQ artists in country music.
Though Hawthorn announced that he was gay in an Instagram post last year, “Dancing in the Living Room” was widely interpreted as a coming out moment, capturing him and a boyfriend (among other couples) sharing a sweet embrace. The cinematic video struck a chord among viewers, garnering coverage in People and The Advocate as well as on the country music network CMT.
Prior to relocating to Nashville, the Kansas-born Hawthorn had spent years in Los Angeles recording tracks for film and television, and in 2017, he released a self-titled, three-song EP. Even so, he views “Dancing in the Living Room” as a life-changer and the first video to reflect his authentic self.
“I’d been doing music for a while and I wasn’t out,” he recalled. “People were saying, ‘Who is Cameron Hawthorn? What do you want to say as an artist?’ And I knew what I wanted to say, but I was scared to say it. I sat on [the video] for so long, and I thought a lot about whether I wanted [my sexuality] to be a part of my story. But I’m inspired by other artists who are true to who they are, so I saw it as my chance to go out there on a limb and just do it with no regrets.”
The positive response to “Dancing in the Living Room” encouraged Hawthorn to move forward with “Oh Hot Damn!” — the narrative of which takes a few cues from his own journey as an artist.
“It’s about seeing where I want to be, taking that leap of faith and joining the dance, in a way,” he said. Hopeful that his fans will also want to partake in that dance, he has also created a tutorial video that breaks down the moves in the “Oh Hot Damn!” video.
The number of visible LGBTQ personalities in country music has gradually increased over the years. In comparison to pop and rock, however, the genre continues to be viewed as an unfriendly place for both queer artists and fans.
Kacey Musgraves acknowledged that stodgy image in a 2018 HuffPost interview, saying she was “dreaming of the day when we have a gay country music icon that is loud and proud and really, like, a hero for country music fans.”
If all goes according to plan, Hawthorn ― who cites Musgraves, Tim McGraw and Dierks Bentley as musical influences ― would like his shot at becoming that icon.
Acknowledging that he would love to “sell out stadiums and win Grammys” one day, Hawthorn said he’s nonetheless grateful to be carving out a space where he can “put out music that I’m proud of and connect with people who like it.”
“I’m getting to be creative and put my heart into what I love right now,” he said.