The holiday standard “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” has come under fire in recent years. A common complaint against the tune is that its lyrics — which present a push and pull between a woman attempting to leave for the night and a man trying to convince her to stay — carry overtones of sexual harassment and coercion. Many have used the word “rapey” to describe the song’s connotation to the modern ear, even if others have argued that it was quite progressive in its time and was actually a nod to women’s liberation. Either way, the song’s yuletide ubiquity persists, and it continues to be awkward.
John Legend’s solution to was to record a “modern and irreverent” new version of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” with Insecure’s Natasha Rothwell, to record it with his fellow The Voice affiliate Kelly Clarkson, and to release it on the deluxe reissue of A Legendary Christmas, his holiday collection from last year executive produced by Raphael Saadiq. The resulting remake has gotten more media attention than all the other Christmas music coming out this season combined.
The deluxe version of A Legendary Christmas is out today, and therefore so is the woke “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” It subs in lyrics like, “My mother will start to worry (I’ll call a car and tell ‘em to hurry)/ My daddy will be pacing the floor (Wait, what are you still livin’ home for?).” And when Clarkson sings, “What will my friends think if I have one more drink?” Legend replies, “It’s your body and your choice.”
Not everyone is thrilled about this turn of events. Earlier this week, Deana Martin, daughter of famed “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” singer Dean Martin, called in to Good Morning Britain to complain about Legend’s remake. Among her critiques: “You do not change the lyrics to the song. He’s made it more sexual with those words that he has just said. It’s absolutely absurd.”
Hear it for yourself below.
A Legendary Christmas is out now on Columbia.