“Baby, It’s Cold Outside” — now with more consent.
The Frank Loesser-penned holiday duet has proved to be divisive in recent years, with a Cleveland radio station even banning the title last Christmas over concerns about the “date-rapey” implications of the song. In response to such complaints, John Legend is planning to release a version of the track with updated lyrics.
In the latest Vanity Fair cover story, Legend revealed his plans for the track, one among a slew of new Christmas songs he’s releasing this year on an expanded version of his 2018 album A Legendary Christmas. Legend is duetting with fellow The Voice judge Kelly Clarkson, and he’s tweaked the lyrics alongside Insecure comedian Natasha Rothwell to reflect a more sensitive take for today’s climate.
Whereas once the lyrics went, “Say, what’s in this drink?” and featured a woman protesting “The answer is no” and her male partner continuing to try to wear her down, Legend has revised them.
“What will my friends think?” Clarkson now asks, before he responds, “I think they should rejoice.” Clarkson finishes her thought with “If I have one more drink?” before Legend replies, “It’s your body, and your choice.”
Another section goes:
I really can’t stay (BABY IT’S COLD OUTSIDE)
I’ve gotta go away (I CAN CALL YOU A RIDE.)
This evening has been (SO GLAD THAT YOU DROPPED IN)
So very nice (TIME SPENT WITH YOU IS PARADISE)
My mother will start to worry (I’LL CALL A CAR AND TELL ’EM TO HURRY)
The emphasis is now on consent in what Legend’s press release calls “a modern and irreverent narrative.” But it’s not the first time “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” has received a woke update. In 2016, as complaints about the song’s content were just gaining steam, Minneapolis-based singer-songwriters Lydia Liza and Josiah Lemanski released a revised version of the song with new lyrics like “Baby, I’m fine with that” and “Been hoping you get home safe.”
Loesser’s daughter has previously defended the song vehemently, stressing that we should bear in mind the context in which it was written. “I think my father would be furious at that,” Susan Loesser said of stations banning the song last year. “People used to say, ‘What’s in this drink?’ as a joke. You know, ‘This drink is going straight to my head, so what’s in this drink?’ Back then it didn’t mean you drugged me… Absolutely, I get it. But I think it would be good if people looked at the song in the context of the time. It was written in 1944.”
A representative for Legend confirmed the new song to EW, as well as sharing the news that the other three new tracks on the deluxe version of A Legendary Christmas will be “This Christmas,” “My Favorite Things” and “Christmas in New Orleans.”
A Legendary Christmas: Deluxe Edition will be released Nov. 8.