By James Barker, Staff Writer
Brandy Clark has released a holiday song: “Only Time of Year,” from the upcoming Hulu film “Happiest Season.” The film is an LGBTQ+ rom-com focused on a relationship between two women, and just like the film, “Only Time of Year” is, for better and for worse, “delightfully conventional.”
The song starts off with Clark’s voice accompanied by whistling and gentle guitar picking, before picking up the rhythm and full production in the pre-chorus: “Oh with my family, making memories.”
The pace of the song and its main melody kicks in at the mention of ‘family’ as Clark embraces the hallmarks of a happy seasonal song, while implicitly acknowledging that for LGBTQ+ listeners, holidays with family can be a more fraught time. Yet in this song we’re promised “everyone you love is near” and all round good “cheer.”
The question of whether queer politics should embrace this kind of inclusion within the mainstream remains contested, and for some that leads to narrowing the limits of what our politics and artistic expression can achieve.
Similarly, a dominance of miserable queer stories is also an issue as it perpetuates a whole set of damaging stereotypes. Both of these are real risks, and in many ways the solution is not one or the other, but multiple voices representing the full range of LGBTQ+ experiences, which are, after all, human experiences.
Clark nods to this clash between tradition and progress when she sings, “We all got our traditions / but we love breaking the rules,” perhaps to suggest that queer inclusion in family-friendly holiday entertainment is unfortunately still a radical move.
And as much as I tend to prefer sad and dramatic songs, Clark’s crisp vocals give “Only Time of Year” just enough bite that the song’s wonderful conventionality avoids becoming bland.
“Only Time of Year” is available on all platforms, Happiest Season is out Nov. 25 on Hulu.