John Legend rewrote the lyrics to the problematic song ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’

John Legend attends the 2019 LACMA Art + Film Gala at LACMA on November 02, 2019 in Los Angeles, California © J Graylock/jpistudios.com

About a year ago, a radio station finally took a bold step: they banned the famous Christmas-season song “Baby It’s Cold Outside.” The song has been around for like 80 years and the lyrics are often interpreted as problematic AF. I covered all of this last year – the history of the song, the long-standing complaints, and how in the Me Too age, maybe radio stations shouldn’t play music where the duet sounds like a man is trying to get a woman drunk so she’ll spend the night with him. The song’s lyrics are so completely creepy that Key & Peele did a great sketch send-up of the song years ago too.

Anyway, thousands of radio stations still play the song and it’s not like “cancel culture” even really worked in any way regarding this f–king song. So John legend decided to do something else: he reworked and changed the lyrics and then he and Kelly Clarkson recorded it. Behold, the Woke version “Baby It’s Cold Outside.”

Just like the radio station banning the song last year, there’s a backlash to the backlash. People are truly MAD that John Legend changed the lyrics to reflect consent culture. There’s also a bizarre criticism that Legend’s lyrics make it too much about sex, which…I mean…

The new #MeToo-fueled version of the holiday ditty scrubs the song of lines in which a male suitor insists that a woman stay because the weather is bad, for ones where he calls her a cab and asks her to text him when she gets home. In another eye-rolling instance, Clarkson’s character asks, “What will my friends think? If I have one more drink?” to which the Legend ‘s suitor replies: “It’s your body and your choice.” In a lighter moment, Clarkson offers up the excuse, “My father will be pacing the floor,” to which Legend replies, “Wait, what do you still live at home for?”

The song will be released on a deluxe edition of Legend’s Christmas album, “A Legendary Christmas,” also out Friday. But news of the duet — released in 1949, and famously crooned by the likes of Bing Crosby and Doris Day — has already been met with a flurry of criticism. Nay-sayers include Deana Martin, the daughter of Dean Martin, who sang one of the most popular version of the hit.

“You do not change the lyrics to the song,” she fumed on “Good Morning Britain” earlier this week, adding that the new song is oddly more sex-focused. “He made it more sexual with those words … and I think what he’s done is, he’s stealing the thunder from [composer] Frank Loesser’s song and from my dad,” she said. She called the tune’s new iteration, which was penned by Legend, “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.”

[From Page Six]

For the love of God! It’s JUST A SONG. You can say that about either version, the original or the update. I can’t stand the original song because at some point, it changes from playful to predatory (in my mind, in my interpretation). Legend’s version keeps it playful, almost dorky. Why all the backlash?? My lord.

John Legend attends the 2019 LACMA Art + Film Gala at LACMA on November 02, 2019 in Los Angeles, California © J Graylock/jpistudios.com

Photos courtesy of WENN.

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61 Responses to “John Legend rewrote the lyrics to the problematic song ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’”

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  1. Ann says:

    I never liked this song. I always thought of it as a Christmas date rape song. My mom and my aunt made fun of me. This was long before Me Too. It’s so obvious. Good for John. We’ll probably still hear the bad version for eternity but at least some people get it.

    • Yzzah says:

      I feel sorry for people who are too ignorant and clueless to understand the actual meaning and intent of the lyrics. Anyone who can’t be bothered to figure out that society was different back then, social mores and standards were much stricter than today, and the song is a reflection of that era. Get over yourselves and crack a book.

      • MrsBanjo says:

        Perhaps you could take a minute to reflect on the fact that some things don’t age well, and this song is one of them. But sure, if you want to hold on to something of a different era so hard, more power to you. You do you.

      • ItReallyIsYouNotMe says:

        And realize that plenty of people understand that societal mores were different back then and are STILL uncomfortable with this song. You don’t need to feel sorry for them (me) because we’re doing just fine with taking the position that we choose not to listen to it.

      • chicken tetrazzini! says:

        @ Yzzah

        OK Boomer

      • Catting says:

        Lmfao. There are two types of responses, from @MrsBanjo and @chicken tetrazzini! and I’m here for both of them. <3

      • horseandhound says:

        omg I can’t believe people are still discussing this. the song is not about him forcing her to stay and her wanting to leave. it’s about him trying to convince her to stay and her wanting to stay, but worrying that it would be viewed as wrong by her family and the society. that song is not problematic. please leave the song alone.

      • Christina says:

        Yzzah, did you know that in the 1930’s, 40s, and 50s that over 90% of women where struck by their spouses in some way? Most men would slap their wives at least once to “keep ‘me in line”. Getting slapped by your husband at least once in a marriage was common then. I heard this statistic from a woman on some PBS radio show in her book about the history of domestic violence and women in general. Women did not report it because they accepted it as the norm. I heard the author of the book discuss her book, and she was saying that things seem really bad for women right now, but that it was much, much worse. We just never had stats to tie to it like we do now. THAT is why men think of women as their own personal property. It was just that no one could see it. So that “stricter” society you discuss was stricter for WOMEN. We know that men protect each other no matter what.

        What an ignorant comment… I feel sorry for you.

      • Christina says:

        Mrs. Banjo, Chicken Tetrazzini, and Catting, I’m a gen-Xer, like Kaiser. You all make me so proud. I learn so much from my 18 year-old daughter. She is my hero.

        Experience is important, but so are fresh takes and improving society. You ladies are changing the world, taking names, and NOT taking any shit!!! ❤️💋

      • Rose says:

        Yes, society standards were different back then.

        If you were raped it was your fault.

        If you were homosexual you were a pervert and mentally ill.

        If you were a woman your place was in the home watching after the kids.

        If you were black you were segregated into different waiting rooms, restrooms, hospitals, schools, even water fountains. “Don’t let the sun go down on you in this town”

        The original version needs to go in the dustbin of history.

    • Genessee says:

      I like the Idina Menzel & Michael Buble kid-friendly version:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6bbuBubZ1yE

  2. Ali says:

    The original song is creepy af.

    • Yzzah says:

      Only to people who don’t understand what society was like back then. Geez!

      • Olive says:

        critics understand clearly what society was like back then, it’s the ENTIRE POINT of their complaints about the song – that it represents a less enlightened time in society and we don’t want to hear songs that reflect that era anymore because we know better now. why are you so defensive over this song?

      • Sarah says:

        I adore the song; it’s playful and naughty and sexy. It’s of another era, for sure; B&W movies, smoking, dames in hats, and fellas in ties. I’m glad the world has changed for the better, but this song reflects fun from a period of true charm (and rotten rights for women).

  3. savu says:

    I love this. I’m not sure it’ll get tons of radio play (because of the backlash to this version) but maybe they’ll surprise me! I’ve been telling people the lyrics are date-rapey since I was 14ish, of course thinking I was SO smart for having an “original” opinion. Except that so many of us have been having these thoughts for years, or decades.
    Also, people who get mad about changing/pointing out something problematic because it’s “a classic” or “tradition” are the kind of people you need to watch out for.

    • Some chick says:

      I agree. It’s always sounded creepy to me. Too bad because Ray Charles and Betty Carter recorded a version that I’d absolutely love – if I didn’t understand English.

      Hope the holidays treat you well!

  4. Rapunzel says:

    And of course Piers Morgan was leading the outrage… shocker.

    • horseandhound says:

      people are so crazy right now and out of touch with common sense that piers morgan started to sound like the voice of reason. when that happens people should start to wonder if their positions are really that right.

  5. DaisySharp says:

    I have to tell you something, I was NOT expecting this at all, but this song made me feel so happy. I guess it’s a mix of my love for John Legend and the adorable humor he uses, and they both sound so great. I am going to get this album for sure!

  6. Bebe says:

    “Wait, what do you still live at home for? ” Lollll. Amazing.

  7. Planner Girl says:

    Why can’t John Legend re-write blurred lines instead I can see why some would have an issue with it but still it’s so much more misogynistic than “Baby it’s cold outside” and I saw the most about pharrell williams saying that now in the midst of the #MeToo era it’s problematic which is a gross understatement to me. That song is disgusting.

    • Jennifer says:

      It’s really shocking to me how little time there was between “Blurred Lines” being a hit and Me Too.

    • TQB says:

      I’d just rather bury Blurred Lines in a really deep, dark hole. At least you have to listen to “Baby, it’s Cold Outside” a few times before it gets creepy. I heard Blurred Lines for the first time and was all, holy shit, that’s rather rapey, no?

  8. Bookworm says:

    With all the filthy, misogynistic, violent songs out there, THIS old song is offensive? Insane world.

  9. PizzaLove says:

    I like the original song, I see it as flirty not sexual. If Legend wants to rewrite lyrics I have a huge list of hip hop and rock lyrics that are incredibly misogynous. It just seems weird they are going after an old classic Christmas song when there are so many songs out there that are not subtle and openly demeaning women.

    • ariel says:

      I enjoy the original song too, but the line about “what’s in this drink” which was probably intended as a less creepy- he made it strong (as opposed to drugged to incapacitate)- still rubs me the wrong way.
      Young men are driven (by hormones, peer pressure and society) to get laid at any cost and therefore want to get the girl as drunk as possible so she will not say no to sex.
      I recall that as a teen in the late 80s, and i’m sure it is still true today.
      But I am thrilled to no longer think that is how it should be.

      I am happy the younger generations are standing up, to a degree, and saying- that’s just not cool.

      So I enjoyed the new version.

      • PizzaLove says:

        Ariel, I always thought of that line “what is in this drink” as the woman trying to blame the alcohol for wanting to stay longer. I think many of us have done things while drinking and used the alcohol as an excuse. Like telling a brother-in-law off. ;-)

        I love the original song and think the new version is stupid, but if they can make money off it, go ahead!

      • Market Street Minifig says:

        @PizzaLove is right that “what’s in this drink” refers to plausible deniability. She wanted to stay, but to preserve her reputation, she used that then popular line to suggest that she wasn’t responsible for her own actions. Totally tongue-in-cheek though because she knew he knew that she knew it wasn’t really the drink. I grew up at a time when *good girls* were expected to say no when they meant yes, so my impression back then was that it was a playful, fun song. I’m still sort of able to look at it that way—but only if I’m not watching the video. The choreography has him really getting into her personal space and practically undressing her as she’s trying to put on her outerwear.

        Although I’m practically old enough to be OK-Boomered, I do applaud what Kelly and John tried to do with the update. But it feels a bit to PSA-heavy to me and that really dials back the enjoyment factor even though I love their voices. I support the “your body, your choice” message, I just wish he’d found a more creative way of getting it across.

    • adastraperaspera says:

      I confess to really liking the song as a flirty thing, and also to singing it as a duet with my partner each holiday season. That said, good for John Legend for re-arranging the lyrics so the lovely melody can have a fresh life.

  10. emmy says:

    I mean the original is creepy but not that bad. This stuff is found in countless classic movies and we still watch them. And tthey still play rap? Hip Hop? Anyone listen to Tom Jones’ Delilah recently? Sure, ban the damn song but I just don’t see it. Come at me.

    I always appreciate new Christmas songs and certainly new John Legend music, so yay!

    • DaisySharp says:

      Wow I just googled the lyrics to Delilah, holy cr*p! Do radios still play that song?

    • Market Street Minifig says:

      Hip Hop encompasses many subgenres. There is something for everyone who enjoys rhyming schemes and the spoken word set to music.

      But I will give you Delilah. I grew up listening to Tom Jones because my mom is a HUGE fan of his. “I felt the knife in my hand and she laughed no more?” She laughed at him, he murdered her and then he blamed her. In another song, the woman who breaks his heart is a Daughter of Darkness.

      So when my mom starts going on about *music today* I bring that up—or the big guns, “Young girl get out of my mind” by Gary Puckett.

      • emmy says:

        There’s great Hip Hop out there. I love it. I do still listen to the questionable rap and honestly, Delilah came to mind because… I love the music. I just do. I always think there’s a difference between me at 35 liking certain things and knowing the true meaning and all of this shit permeating teen culture. Maybe that’s naive.

        We need better music but I don’t think we have to throw out all of the old stuff just because we know better now. I’ll draw the line at making current problematic people money.

  11. Jennifer says:

    “Murray” – This is hilarious.

  12. Christina says:

    I viewed the original as playful and funny until someone tried to coerce me into sex as a young woman. Now that I’m older and have some self-esteem, the original creeps me out.

    Deana Martin feel bad, but some legends remain. Most of us are forgotten to history. Artists and their families act like fame is for ever. Everyone can’t be Bob Ross, painting “…happy little trees.”

    • DaisySharp says:

      You’re right Christina, fame isn’t forever. That’s a good point. I think people get upset because these songs excite nostalgia, that most bitterly sweet of all emotions, within some of us. Listen, I hear dean martin and I am back to being a little girl, excited Santa is coming, my mom is cooking fish for our big Christmas eve dinner, and my dad is playing carols on the record player. I get it. But I can also let go of it. People need to work on this. Dean Martin is dead and buried long ago. Let’s enjoy John Legend!

  13. Brandy Alexander says:

    So, I listened to it and it seems like he only changed the man’s side of the lyrics? Which makes the woman’s side make no sense to me… But their voices sound great together.

  14. Lisa says:

    I’m just IN LOVE with John and Kelly’s rendering of the song. That in itself is enough to keep listening!

  15. No Doubt says:

    I never liked the song, but not because it’s creepy. It’s just so overdone. Same with Santa Baby. Making the season “sexy” is very strange to me.

  16. Dr Mrs The Monarch says:

    This is the first version I’ve ever heard that is actually charming and seductive.

    “Time spent with you is paradise”

    The original looks even worse now.

  17. N says:

    So now we will probably have radios play one version during the day and the other at night. Speaking of new Christmas albums, Andrew Bird whistles Oh Holy Night in its entirety!

  18. Texas says:

    I love the original song and think the backlash is silly. Semantics vs substance. However, the new version is really cute.

  19. BC says:

    Women suing Cosby and Weinstein encountered these abuses eons ago. So, should the fact that these offenses happened years ago, make them ok? Saying an obviously offensive song made years ago should not evoke outrage in the now is what is plain wrong. Anyone who has been unfortunately a victim of date rape knows how absolutely horrible the feeling is when it sinks in that no amount of “No”s will save you that night. This song is triggering for me and i just dont know how anyone can be ok with the original. Especially a woman. Its disgusting and upsetting. I like Johns version. Made me smile because he is living the choice to stay or leave. When she says she wants to go, he says ive called a cab for you. When she says she wouldnt mind one more drink, he says her company is delightful. He doesnt force his notions on her and at the end she stays because she wants to. Its fun. I like the bit where she sings – Theres bound to be talk tomorrow – and he says – theyll talk but what do they know…😂

  20. GenX says:

    I’m not comfortable with “Boomer” being used as a slur. It’s ageist. Flame away.

    • Marigold says:

      Agreed. Those Boomers everyone lambastes all the time are my parents, and they’re decent people moving through life the best way they know how. And they paved the road through most of this nonsense. It was just a muddy wheel rut before the 1960′s came. The Boomers have many faults as a collective, just like my generation does and yours will.

      But they are people, and they accomplished good as well as bad. I’m tired of the young being infantilized to ignore and silence them…and I’m tired of the elderly being treated the same way. As a middle-aged X’er, I feel those attitudes all around me. I remember being dismissed as a non-voice in my teens and twenties. I refuse to be dismissed as a non-voice when I’m in my 60′s and 70′s. Society works best when its natural mixture of ages and gender groups and perspectives are all given the dignity of “the right to be here.”

  21. Marigold says:

    It’s not like you can’t listen to the original if you’re attached to it, but I think it’s great he re-wrote it. It’s funny. The song was always about staying over for sex. The new lyrics don’t change that.

    I always liked the rhythm and feel of this song, but the lyrics bothered me since the 90′s when I got old enough to pay attention and understand them. The original is about a woman saying, “no,” over and over again with a man following her around coercing her toward “yes.”

    We get it. She’s the good girl being seduced by the bad boy and it’s supposed to be cute. I thought it was creepy 35 years ago…and it has nothing to do with my politics. I didn’t have any then. My objection to this song is born out of the fear I felt every time I tried to say “no” to someone (male or female, romantic situation or otherwise) and the person I was talking to refused to “hear that.”

    I think his version is cute and funny, and it gives the holiday song back to people who can’t hang out with the original lyrics. It changes the dynamics in the song completely without changing any of that actual intent of the original. It’s a comedic take on a girl and boy who are choosing to hang out together even though people might not approve…because MUTUAL holiday passion and puppy love. I think the rewrite is funny and great. The original is still there for any and all who want it.

    Women saying “no” and being ignored has always been scary, whether the contemporary generation understood that or not. A lot of attitudes and behaviors were considered absolutely fine in the 1940′s and 1950′s that are not today. Women couldn’t serve on juries. Everyone chain-smoked. The nation was covered in whites-only businesses and public services. Women had to have a man co-sign on bank accounts.

    So, yeah, I’m sure this “chasing a skirt who wants it” song was considered harmless fun when it was written. We know better now.

  22. Caty Page says:

    I don’t understand when people take offense and get defensive in response to someone else being offended. It’s so hypocritical.

    When someone says they’re offended, my first instinct is never to force them to justify. They don’t owe me an explanation; I am not the final judge of what is offensive.

    No one is offended by the John Legend song itself. They are offended someone else has dared to be offended. They are being complete hypocrites.

  23. Laura says:

    I’ll admit-I enjoy Baby It’s Cold Outside (especially the Idina Menzel/Michael Buble version). My husband and I do an awesome duet of it dancing around the kitchen while cooking dinner. I also understand how it’s creepy and problematic. I don’t have a problem with radio stations banning it. I can listen on Youtube. Personally, if I ever heard my niece (or any kid in my family) listening to it, after the song was over I would use it as a teaching lesson. “Yes, it sounds cute and flirty in the song, right? But the song is make believe and not real. In real life, if anyone tells you ‘The answer is no’, you listen to them the first time, even if you think they’re being flirty. And it’s not ok for someone to not listen to you when you say no, even if they swear they’re just being cute and flirty.”
    I like the song, but I don’t care for the tantrums some people are throwing about the lyrics being updated to not be problematic.