Now that Halloween is out of the way, Christmas playlists across the country are on standby, ready to be played on a continual loop for the next two months. Last Christmas, All I Want For Christmas, Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree and Santa Claus Is Comin to Town are all bound to be on there. And there’s one particular song that always floods our ears during the festive season, despite the fact that it’s incredibly problematic.
Baby, It’s Cold Outside is a song about a man refusing to let a woman go home. In fact, he spends the whole song pressuring her to spend the night with him. At one point, after repeatedly saying no, the female lyrics even ask: “Hey, what’s in this drink?”. For many people, this suggests that the male singer has “slipped something” into her glass.
The song was originally written by Frank Loesser in 1944, and won an Oscar for best original song in the 1949 film Neptune’s Daughter. Worryingly, the original score even lists the man’s part as ‘Wolf’ and the woman’s part as ‘Mouse,’ confirming the weird predator/prey dynamic.
Cue: Kelly Clarkson and John Legend.
Legend and Clarkson have reworked Baby, It’s Cold Outside song for the post-MeToo era, ensuring that they highlight the importance of consent. The pair have worked together on the US version of The Voice, which makes them an ideal match for the duet.
You can listen to the full carol below:
In an interview with Vanity Fair, Legend said he and writer Natasha Rothwell have penned new lyrics for the song and that he has recorded it with Clarkson.
The theme of this updated, rerecorded version is consent: “I want you to stay, it’s not up to me,” Legend croons at one point. Other lyrics include the line, “What will my friends think? (I think they should rejoice) / If I have one more drink? (It’s your body, and your choice).”
Also notable is just how much Legend and Clarkson’s Baby It’s Cold Outside features the male character telling the female character that she should leave their date whenever she wants to. So much so, in fact, that he repeatedly calls her a “ride” from a ride-share app. (“Your driver’s name is Murray,” Legend sings to Clarkson. We think this might be the first Christmas carol in recorded history to feature an Uber driver as a character.)
Not everyone is happy with the single, though. Deena Martin, the daughter of legendary singer Dean Martin, who penned the song back in 1944, has called Legend’s update “absurd”.
“You do not change the lyrics to the song,” she told Good Morning Britain. “[Legend has] made it more sexual with those words he said. It’s absolutely absurd… 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.”
Interestingly, the original song lyrics have been covered before by Lady Gaga, Michael Bublé, Tom Jones and Cerys Matthews. Will Ferrell and Zooey Deschanel also performed it in the hugely popular family movie Elf.
We’re guessing that Deena won’t be buying the Legend’s seasonal album A Legendary Christmas, which will feature the new track alongside a brace of other Christmas hits. If you’re a Legend fan, though, you can buy the album now.
Now that the full single has dropped, we think an evening inside listening to the song with that first mince pie of the season is in order.