John Legend and Kelly Clarkson are making headlines after releasing a remix of Frank Loesser’s original holiday classic “Baby It’s Cold Outside.” Legend and Clarkson put their own spin of the song, which has been shrouded in controversy the last few years in light of the #MeToo movement.
Legend shared a link to the song on his personal Twitter account with the caption, “NEW VERSION of #BabyItsColdOutside! A welcome update or ‘PC Culture run amok & destroying everything great in the history of music?’ You decide. Check out my new track w/ @kellyclarkson! Updated lyrics co-written w/ @natasharothwell.” You can check out the song below:
The song features on his holiday album, “A Legendary Christmas: Deluxe Edition,” and changes the lyrics of the original version (circa 1944), giving it a more modern, less controversial sound. Here’s what you need to know:
The Original Song Has Been Shrouded in Controversy Over Recent Years
The popular call-and-response tune is often played over the holiday season and includes a woman singing about wanting to leave a man’s house as he continues pressuring her to stay. The original lyrics, written by Frank Loesser and made famous by the film “Neptune’s Daughter” in 1949, includes phrases like “I’ve got to go away,” and, “The answer is no,” which has raised some eyebrows in the wake of the #MeToo movement.
Many have argued against the song in recent years, claiming the original version promotes rape, keeping a woman in a house against her will, and also hints at drugging the woman after she asks “say, what’s in this drink?”
The song makes a yearly comeback, and although it’s considered a classic holiday tune, many radio stations have started banning the song in recent years after listeners voiced concern about the song’s predatory undertones. Radio station WDOK and Star 102.1 in Cleveland both pulled the song from the air last year after receiving complaints from listeners.
Legend & Clarkson’s Version Emphasizes Consent
Legend and Clarkson decided to add their own modern spin on the song, which sounds less like a “date-rape anthem” and more like the parting of two friendly lovers.
Legend’s version of the song appears to emphasize the fact that Clarkson is an independent woman who can make her own choices, and although it’s clear the couple wants to spend the night together, Legend encourages her to leave if she wants to. He also offers to order her a ride home and asks her to text him so he knows she is safe.
“It’s your body and your choice,” he tells her as she worries what her friends will think, while the cab driver pops in later and tells Clarkson “ma’am, I really can’t stay.” You can check out some of the lyrics below:
I really can’t stay (Baby, it’s cold outside)
I’ve got to go away (But, I can call you a ride)
This evening has been (I’m so glad you that you dropped in)
So very nice (Time spent with you is paradise)
My mom will start to worry (I’ll call the car and tell him to hurry)
My daddy will be pacing the floor (Wait, what are you still livin’ home for?)
So, really, I’d better scurry (Your driver, his name is Murray)
But maybe just a half a drink more (Oh, we’re both adults, so who’s keepin’ score?)
What will my friends think? (Well I think they should rejoice)
If I have one more drink? (It’s your body and your choice)
Ooh you really know how (Your eyes are like starlight now)
To cast a spell (One look at you and then I fell)
I ought to say, “No, no, no, sir” (Then you really ought to go, go, go)
At least I’m gonna say that I tried (Well, Murray, he just pulled up outside)
Legend’s Twitter post makes it clear that the singer expects some negative feedback on the song; in the post he asks viewers to decide if the song is “a welcome update” or “PC Culture run amok & destroying everything great in the history of music?” so he is obviously expecting some backlash.
‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’ Remixes & Covers Have Been Popping Up Over The Last Few Years
As more attention is brought to the potentially offensive original lyrics of the song, artists have been releasing new covers and remixes that are more “consent-friendly” versions of the popular tune.
The Holderness Family, known for their viral videos, parodied the song last year to make it more tongue-in-cheek and less offensive to those who feel the original song had violent undertones. Check out the video above.
The song includes new lyrics and instead features a man encouraging the woman to leave when she wants to while emphasizing that he understands consent and that she is completely free to do whatever she likes because “no means no.”
There Has Already Been Some Negative Backlash to Legend’s Song
Deena Martin, Dean Martin’s daughter, called Legend’s new lyrics “absolutely absurd” and believes Legend’s version is “stealing the thunder” from Loesser’s tune, as well as her father, who sang one of the most popular versions of the hit.
“I think what he’s done is he’s stealing the thunder from Frank Loesser’s song and my dad,” she said on Good Morning Britain. “He should write his own song if he doesn’t like this one, but don’t change the lyrics. It’s a classic, perfect song.”
She also believes Legend and Clarkson somehow sexualized the song even more, saying “He made it more sexual with those words.”
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