The classic, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” has been a staple Christmas song for decades. Growing up in Florida, I know I would hear it play in stores and at school every year as soon as the weather hit the seventies. However, despite the traditional value it holds, when critiques broke down the conversation between the man and woman throughout the song, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” has recently been interpreted very differently from the light and romantic duo it once was.
Critiques have now interpreted the lyrics of the song and accused them of suggesting date rape or displaying a non-consensual relationship. As we know, the female lead sings, “Say what’s in this drink?” as if it is stronger than she ordered it and continuously pushes the man away. Many people now agree that though it was created a long time ago, dating back to 1944, when things were very different, there is simply no room for this song in our society today.
Enter: John Legend and Kelly Clarkson. This winter, Legend and Clarkson have collaborated to bring us a new version of the classic with revised lyrics that were created to represent a healthy and consensual relationship. In the rewrite, Clarkson sings the traditional line “I ought to say no no sir –“ to which Legend’s response is now “Then you really ought to go, go, go” instead of the traditional “Mind if I move in closer.” Other revisions include “I simply should go”, followed by “Text me when you get home” and “Oh, I’m supposed to say no,” with the polite response “Mm, I guess that’s respectable.” You can listen to the full lyrics here.
While the revisions have received lots of praise, Sharon Osbourne publicly noted the alternative perspective, stating, “it’s a piece of art and the thing is to change an innocent lyric to what is it, ‘Your mind and your body’? What the h*ll are you on? That’s ridiculous.” Many people agree that the rewrite was unnecessary. Others feel that it raises other issues. Rajvi Desai & Liesl Goecker from The Swaddle write, “ignoring that subtext — or writing it out entirely — ignores a very common and very gray area of real-life sexual interaction.”
Since the issue arose, many stores and radio stations have removed the old song completely from their Christmas playlists to avoid upsetting consumers. The new song maintains the old-time jazz tune so this rewrite should allow us to resume enjoying the song, just now with a 21st-century perspective. Along with “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”, Legend released a deluxe version of his Christmas album including three other new additions to revamp last year’s playlists. With other recent releases such as “Like It’s Christmas” by The Jonas Brothers as well as suspected holiday music from Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber, the next month will be full of holiday spirit so get your lights up and those cookies in the oven!
All gifs courtesy of Giphy.